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Rope anchor question


Original Post
JRZane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 90

Yes, I use a PAS most of the time. Yes, I wear it as a thong sometimes (when I have a lot of cams/draws). Yes I am a beginner climber (entering my 3rd year, 2nd leading trad).

I enjoy learning many different anchor techniques and when theres a good belay ledge i have been making my anchor out of the rope more and more often.  To the point Im considering ditching my much-mal-aligned PAS thong.  I can't get past one thing.....

I use the: harness to clove hitch on piece 1, clip piece 2, clove hitch piece 3 and pull down to a MP technique. Ive found it fast and efficient. However, what I can't get past is the situation where I'm NOT on a good ledge (say semi-hanging to just very small and leaning back weight on the anchor).  We swap leads and now my leader is taking up all the slack. once it gets to the anchor I grab the rope and yell THATS ME and he puts me on belay.  He yells ON BELAY and I proceed to break down the anchor.  Except now theres 8-10' of slack in an anchor that I'm either weighting or don't really feel so great about breaking down.


what am i missing here?

Tristan Burnham · · La Crescenta, CA · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 1,585

Use a cordalet to equalize the anchor. And clove into that. Then you only have like 1 foot of slack to undo the Clove. 

JRZane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 90

Tristan Burnham wrote:

Use a cordalet to equalize the anchor. And clove into that. Then you only have like 1 foot of slack to undo the Clove. 

using a cord is exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,832

Look for some links + photos from posts by rgoid. He was a big promoter of rope anchors.
. . . (His approach tends to use a butterfly knot in addition to clove hitches).

Or take a lesson. But don't be surprised if your instructor insists on teaching you how to use a cordalette. Unless you're swinging / alternating leads with your partner, most leaders find it quicker and simpler.

Note that a PAS is still rather useful for setting up rappels.

Since you're carrying it anyway for that purpose, might be worth figuring out some way of more quickly building a hybrid anchor out of both rope and PAS.

Ken

Jared Casper · · St. George, UT · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 0

I don't usually use a rope anchor so can't answer your question with confidence... but I don't understand why you can't start breaking down the anchor from your partner's side of the rope. Each piece you take out creates some slack that your partner pulls up (because he is actively belaying you) until you have the first piece you are cloved into, take that out (which won't create much slack) and start climbing.

And even if you end up with a bit of slack from breaking down your anchor, your life isn't on that anchor now, it is on your partner's above.  Sure you have the chance of taking a bit of a whip if you fall off the belay ledge directly after breaking down your anchor and before the belayer pulls up slack, but that's not much worse than when you first arrived at the belay ledge before you put in your first anchor piece.  So why wouldn't you feel great about breaking down your anchor?

JRZane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 90

Jared Casper wrote:

start breaking down the anchor from your partner's side of the rope. Each piece you take out creates some slack that your partner pulls up (because he is actively belaying you) until you have the first piece you are cloved into, take that out (which won't create much slack) and start climbing.


i guess i never thought of that. good point. thats why i asked the question.

obviously my P would know theres a rope anchor, once he puts me on belay would also know the first few feet would be slower. I could also tighten the clove to my harness and weight the first piece directly to assist while he takes up the anchor slack. thanks!

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

JRZane wrote:

using a cord is exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

Stop letting other people dictate how you do things.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with using cordelettes or PAS’s, unless you’re using the latter to connect to a multi pitch anchor and belaying your leader.  Check out RGold’s rope anchor technique, bunny ears, etc so that you have lots of options that you know well, then use the best method for the task at hand.  None of these methods are meant to be the end-all, be-all for every situation; the one you are describing seems like a good example of one where a rope anchor is less ideal.  However, if you have a PAS already, why not go direct onto one of the pieces while breaking down the anchor?

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

JRZane wrote:

i guess i never thought of that. good point. thats why i asked the question.

obviously my P would know theres a rope anchor, once he puts me on belay would also know the first few feet would be slower. I could also tighten the clove to my harness and weight the first piece directly to assist while he takes up the anchor slack. thanks!

When the leader yells off belay you use your tether to clip into the most bomber piece of the anchor and break down the rest of the anchor. Then the leader pulls up all the slack until it's tight on you and puts you on belay. Then you can clean the last piece and start climbing. 

JRZane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 90

Ted Pinson wrote:

Stop letting other people dictate how you do things.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with using cordelettes or PAS’s, unless you’re using the latter to connect to a multi pitch anchor and belaying your leader.  Check out RGold’s rope anchor technique, bunny ears, etc so that you have lots of options that you know well, then use the best method for the task at hand.  None of these methods are meant to be the end-all, be-all for every situation; the one you are describing seems like a good example of one where a rope anchor is less ideal.  However, if you have a PAS already, why not go direct onto one of the pieces while breaking down the anchor?

typical setup Is a cord and whatever pieces. I usually clip into the MP with my PAS and often times still clove into the MP too, especially if I'm hanging.  Something about the redundancy eases my mind. 


As far as going in direct into a single piece while breaking down the anchor, I DO trust the gear, but again theres something about being reliant on a single piece that lets doubt creep in.  Weird bc when I'm leading and know I've got good gear I will go for big moves (I've got three real trad falls in my first two years, all on good gear and all worked as designed.  Plus I've done lots of TR-backed lead falls on gear that went a long way in learning to trust gear).  I think its a good point about getting on belay with only the anchor slack left, ill try that, I'm sure at that point being in direct on a single piece won't be as big a deal.

JRZane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 90

eli poss wrote:

When the leader yells off belay you use your tether to clip into the most bomber piece of the anchor and break down the rest of the anchor. Then the leader pulls up all the slack until it's tight on you and puts you on belay. Then you can clean the last piece and start climbing. 

I like it all, except id prefer to be on belay PRIOR to breaking down the anchor and requiring belayer to pull the extra few feet through the device.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

If you've got a single bomber piece, there really no reason not to break down the rest of the anchor. Saves time, and it will add up really quickly when you're doing more than 2 or 3 pitches. On long routes, speed is safety. 

Also, your primary connection to the anchor should be the rope. If you want to clip a tether in as well, make sure the tether is slack and your weight is actually on the rope. That way there is always at least a short length of dynamic rope in the system. 

Jason Kim · · Encinitas, CA · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 255

This is a variation on Rgold's theme and works in almost any situation. You can break down the anchor except for the piece you're cloved into and there's no slack to worry about. 

https://youtu.be/OasGT6RggGw


John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

JRZane wrote:

I like it all, except id prefer to be on belay PRIOR to breaking down the anchor and requiring belayer to pull the extra few feet through the device.

It's all about trade offs and willingness to accept risk.  95% of the time, I break down the anchor to the last piece I'm cloved to and as soon as I'm on belay that clove comes out and I'm moving within seconds. 

At a full hanging belay, I'm gonna leave two pieces in. I'll probably tether to one with a sling and the second with a clove. Once belay is called, I pop the clove pull the piece and then pull the other piece and move to the closest stance to rack properly. 

On a big ledge, as soon as my partner is off belay, I'm tearing down the entire anchor and getting ready to go. No reason to be clipped to a piece if I'm just standing there waiting. 

If you want to move faster, sometimes it means increasing risk. The question is, how much faster and how much risk are you willing to accept to do so?

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

JRZane wrote:

typical setup Is a cord and whatever pieces. I usually clip into the MP with my PAS and often times still clove into the MP too, especially if I'm hanging.  Something about the redundancy eases my mind. 


As far as going in direct into a single piece while breaking down the anchor, I DO trust the gear, but again theres something about being reliant on a single piece that lets doubt creep in.  Weird bc when I'm leading and know I've got good gear I will go for big moves (I've got three real trad falls in my first two years, all on good gear and all worked as designed.  Plus I've done lots of TR-backed lead falls on gear that went a long way in learning to trust gear).  I think its a good point about getting on belay with only the anchor slack left, ill try that, I'm sure at that point being in direct on a single piece won't be as big a deal.

Well, Eli's method is more for when you're at a good stance where you wouldn't be fully weighting/trusting that piece.  Hanging belays are usually on bolts, as a prudent leader would try to avoid that situation entirely on gear, and trusting a single piece while hanging woudl definitely be sketchy.  However, if you do this while on belay, you can break down the rope anchor without having to worry about all of that extra slack as you remove each piece. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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