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Trad anchor scenario questions


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anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70

I just got done reading John Long's Climbing Anchors book and some questions occurred to me...

If you have a rock pro belay anchor on a wide ledge, and the route immediately traverses left. How would you choose to rig the anchor and how would you place pieces for the different directions of pull? 

I ask because the force from a leader fall after the first piece is likely going to be very hard as there is no gravity to assist the belayer in giving a dynamic catch and they will very likely have to stand at full extension of the anchor to the left so as not to be pulled off of their feet in a leader fall. This makes me wonder whether a single fourth piece oppositional in the anchor is enough regardless of what style of rigging you use. 

How would this change if it was a hanging belay in this scenario?

Thanks!

cyclestupor · · Woodland Park, Colorado · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 93

When the route traverses immediately off the belay, the ideal solution is to have the leader clip a piece placed directly above the belayer before he/she starts traversing.  Then if the climber falls during the traverse, the belayer will still be tugged upward.  This is sometimes called a Jesus piece.  Some climbers will clip the rope to the highest piece of their anchor to serve as the Jesus piece (but there is some debate as to whether or not that is a good practice).

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70
cyclestupor wrote:

When the route traverses immediately off the belay, the ideal solution is to have the leader clip a piece placed directly above the belayer before he/she starts traversing.  Then if the climber falls during the traverse, the belayer will still be tugged upward.  This is sometimes called a Jesus piece.  Some climbers will clip the rope to the highest piece of their anchor to serve as the Jesus piece (but there is some debate as to whether or not that is a good practice).

I agree that that is the ideal situation to keep the direction of pull up and down and using gravity for the belayer for a soft catch and keeping everything simpler, but I don't suspect you'll always have that choice on a traversing route. I imagine sometimes your first piece is going to be off to the side. Is this a highly unusual scenario to be worried about?

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,745

The belayer could hang a few feet below the anchor and redirect the rope up through it (and then off toward the traverse).

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70
Gunkiemike wrote:

The belayer could hang a few feet below the anchor and redirect the rope up through it (and then off toward the traverse).

That's an excellent idea! At least for the hanging belay scenario. Would you do this if the belay spot was a wide ledge?

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,523

If the leader is going to run it out on challenging terrain, an immediate redirect through the anchor is a very bad idea ... unless the belayer is prevented towards much movement towards that redirect.

An anchor piece that opposes a pull towards the first piece on the traverse is a good idea.

More generally, these kinds of questions are good and ought to be running  through the leader's head as each three-dimensional lead progresses. :-)

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70
Bill Lawry wrote:

If the leader is going to run it out on challenging terrain, an immediate redirect through the anchor is a very bad idea ... unless the belayer is prevented towards much movement towards that redirect.

An anchor piece that opposes a pull towards the first piece on the traverse is a good idea.

More generally, these kinds of questions are good and ought to be running  through the leader's head as each three-dimensional lead progresses. :-)

Excellent Bill! Thank you for your input. 

Edit: Is a single oppositional enough? Since any falls will place force on the anchor unlike a typical up/down direction of pull anchor and climb where as long as no factor two falls occur, the anchor is not really being loaded beyond static body weight of the belayer. 

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,523
anotherclimber wrote:

Edit: Is a single oppositional enough?

A comprehensive answer would be pretty lengthy of course and full of conditional statements.

Practically speaking, I suspect most of us effectively accept a single oppositional piece since most anchors have at most one upward pull piece. 

That said, peak forces occur within a short lift of a belayer (within 10 inches?) while body weight doesn't help so much with a side pull (though stance might). So maybe not so much accepting?

And then there are the specific protection circumstances of each lead. One pitch I fell on lead where just one BD C4 was intentionally in opposition to the side pull - was just fine. But quite a bit of rope was out, lots of friction from rope against rock, and the fall factor was small.

Again, the leader has to think about these things while making progress on lead.  These discussions may be moot if the traversing rock is bomber and climbing is at a free-solo-able level before the route comes back to directly above the belay. Or the leader could be surprised by the difficulty and lack of additional pro and need to come back to the belay to place a second piece in opposition to a side pull.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

In my experience, putting a piece above the anchor may not be possible, and if possible it might make for bad rope friction later on, so I'd be cautious about that.  Hanging down from the anchor can work in some cases but not all, as it depends what the terrain is like under the normal stance.  Most of the time, I rig an anchor with a directional piece to keep me from being pulled sideways, and make everything snug so I'm not going to move much.  If I already have two excellent pieces for the downward load, I make my third piece the directional.

I've never used more than a single piece for such a directional purpose.  I have to catch factor 1.8 fall in exactly this situation---load straight out to the side---and my single directional (which I had judged to be good) did fine.  Of course, some of the load went to the other two anchor pieces as well.  In any case, the other pieces in the anchor will still work if that single piece were to blow.

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70

Thank you Bill and rgold for your additional input. It's much appreciated. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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