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Anchor Bolts: Clip Above or Below Chain/QuickLink?


Original Post
FourT6and2 ... · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 45

Been climbing a little more than 3 years now, but still a lot to learn. I ran into this situation the other day with another climber I was with. I lead a route, got to the bolts at the top. Typical two-bolt setup. Each bolt had a quicklink or maybe each bolt had a two-link chain with rap ring on each. I don't quite remember, but it shouldn't matter either way. I was taught to always clip in the locking carabiners underneath the chains/quicklinks on the bolt hangers, not on top of them, when building an anchor on which the rest of the party will top rope. The reason being, if the carabiner is laying on top of the rings/chain/link, if you really weight the system the biner gets wedged in there and bent over the ring/chain/link and can snap. Whereas clipping in underneath the ring/chain/link lets the carabiner hang freely.

The other climber who scolded me about it said it was really difficult to clean the anchor because he was weighting the system with his PAS and couldn't get the anchor carabiners out of the bolt hangers since his own locker was on top of them. He said you should always clip the anchor lockers in on top of whatever permanent gear is attached to the bolts (chains, links, rings, etc.). And the reason I didn't build the anchor through the existing hardware, was so the quicklinks or rings would be free to set up the rappel.

What do?

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

I’ve always clipped my anchor to the hanger above link or to the quick link itself for the reason your follower stated. 

FourT6and2 ... · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 45

Nick Drake wrote: I’ve always clipped my anchor to the hanger above link or to the quick link itself for the reason your follower stated. 

Ok thanks, so like this:



And not like this?

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

Either way has the potential to suck depend on the individual process you use to clean the anchor. I usually try to clip any anchors or personal tethers to something different than what the rope will need to be fed through to avoid this whenever possible. Except on the Fixe ring anchors where it's very hard to get a biner in and out of the hanger so clipping the rings is a better option.

FourT6and2 ... · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 45

eli poss wrote: Either way has the potential to suck depend on the individual process you use to clean the anchor. I usually try to clip any anchors or personal tethers to something different than what the rope will need to be fed through to avoid this whenever possible. Except on the Fixe ring anchors where it's very hard to get a biner in and out of the hanger so clipping the rings is a better option.

Makes sense, thanks.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
FourT6and2 ... · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 45

FrankPS wrote: Looks like a similar discussion:

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/114251255/anchor-in-chains

Kinda similar I guess. I do see where someone brought up the above/below thing. Seems like everyone has a different opinion on the matter (as usual).

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

Underneath is better to reduce torque on the carabiners, but it can create a pain to clean. However, you should be able to unweight one bolt at a time fairly easily at most anchors. If it's full hanging and going to be a pain, I'll just clip to the rings.

FourT6and2 ... · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 45

John Wilder wrote: Underneath is better to reduce torque on the carabiners, but it can create a pain to clean. However, you should be able to unweight one bolt at a time fairly easily at most anchors. If it's full hanging and going to be a pain, I'll just clip to the rings.

Yeah that's what I told the other climber. I didn't want to argue with the guy, but he rolled his eyes at me and we went about our day haha.

Anyway, was just looking for some clarification. It seems the answer is every situation is different and you just gotta know all the options.
S.Mckinna · · CaƱon City, CO · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 1,725

FourT6and2 ... wrote:

Yeah that's what I told the other climber. I didn't want to argue with the guy, but he rolled his eyes at me and we went about our day haha.

Anyway, was just looking for some clarification. It seems the answer is every situation is different and you just gotta know all the options.

Whoever scolded you probably needs to refine their cleaning skills instead of bitching.  I almost always clip underneath to reduce torque as well.  Rings are pretty roomy so I am more prone to clip directly into them.  Smaller carabiners for personals alleviate cleaning issues somewhat as well.

Nate Ball · · Portland, OR · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 9,230

This is a real problem if the anchor bolts don't have rap/lower hardware on them. Examples: Metolius fat rap hangers and bare glue-in bolts.

If they do, clip your PAS/tether into something other than the bolt (chain, link, ring, whatever) then pull on the quick-draw or sling that's on the other bolt so that you are not weighting the bolt from which you are trying to remove quick-draw or sling, remove said QD/sling, weight your PAS/tether, then remove second QD/sling (or use it as backup and remove it later along with your PAS/tether), set yourself for lower/rappel and check your system, remove PAS/tether (and second QD/sling if using this for backup), then come down. By clipping into the rap/lower hardware, your PAS/tether is also not being pinched and is thus easy to remove.

You can also just clip the QD's or locker/sling setup directly to the rap/lower hardware, and clip your PAS/tether into the bolts.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

FourT6and2 ... wrote:

Ok thanks, so like this:



And not like this?

Yup, in most all cases the spine pressing on the ring/link isn’t remotely a problem. Think about where the spine of the biner is making contact, if it’s way out near your sling/dog bone that’s a very short lever arm. 

Kelley Gilleran · · Sacramento, Ca · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 2,672

It only matters on a low angle

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490

FourT6and2 ... wrote: The reason being, if the carabiner is laying on top of the rings/chain/link, if you really weight the system the biner gets wedged in there and bent over the ring/chain/link and can snap. 

I know it doesn´t look "nice" and I tend to clip underneath as well but I doubt very much if the karabiner would break even fully loaded let alone the forces involved top-roping. The hangers bend and distort so much under load and before things break that any leverage you see unloaded would dissapear.

Kelley Gilleran · · Sacramento, Ca · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 2,672

Jim Titt wrote:

I know it doesn´t look "nice" and I tend to clip underneath as well but I doubt very much if the karabiner would break even fully loaded let alone the forces involved top-roping. The hangers bend and distort so much under load and before things break that any leverage you see unloaded would dissapear.

I can see your point for steel hardware. Not a lightweight aluminium biner though. I've broken my share of biners doing tree work. They're not that difficult to make snap when loaded in the manner we are discussing. 

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 430

For TRing probably not a big deal one way or the other.

Keep in mind that Chains and Quick Links vary enormously in strength and should never be a primary connection for belaying a leader. They are body weight/TR/rappel worthy only, imo.

The Fixe welded rings are redonkulously strong (like 10,000#) so no issues there but I would still never clip a biner so that it would torque over hardware when weighted. Tell the dude/dudette cleaning the anchor to figure it out. It should take a second of un-weighting the anchor to get the biners out.

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 871

I would concern yourself more with a safe anchor setup and properly loaded binders than your dorky partner that doesn’t know how to clean a loaded anchor.  The fact that he clipped his tether on top of your setup was the mistake he made, not you.  Clippping your binpers below the ring is usually better for the biner. Clipping directly to the rap ring is an option too, if they are substsntial such as a fix stainless steel ring.

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490

Kelley Gilleran wrote:

I can see ypur point for steel hardware. Not a lightweight aluminium biner though. I've broken my share of biners doing tree work. They're not that difficult to make snap when loaded in the matter we are discussing. 

As it happens I took time out from building a race-boat rudder to test it. this is an 8mm chain link in a normal stainless hanger (AstriAlpin) and pulled dead flat over a steel plate (I couldn´t be bothered to do it in a rock).


No load


14kN

20kN

21.6kN Failure.
As I thought (I´ve broken a lot of hangers over the years) the hanger just bends and distorts and the biner moves and twists away from the link.
Kelley Gilleran · · Sacramento, Ca · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 2,672

Jim Titt wrote:

As it happens I took time out from building a race-boat rudder to test it. this is an 8mm chain link in a normal stainless hanger (AstriAlpin) and pulled dead flat over a steel plate (I couldn´t be bothered to do it in a rock).


No load


14kN

20kN

21.6kN Failure.
As I thought (I´ve broken a lot of hangers over the years) the hanger just bends and distorts and the biner moves and twists away from the link.

I like that you destroyed a biner and a hanger to prove a point. The hanger is steel so it bending dosent suprise me.

I think the angle of loading makes a difference on the aluminum biner. Like on a slab or over an edge.

Cool stuff!
Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 871

Thanks for the tests Jim. That looks like a fairly linear loading along the spine of the biner. Could you do a test or two where the biner is leveraged over a ring or a link. That’s when thngs can get weird.

Kelley Gilleran · · Sacramento, Ca · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 2,672

Greg D wrote: Thanks for the tests Jim. That looks like a fairly linear loading along the spine of the biner. Could you do a test or two where the biner is leveraged over a ring or a link. That’s when thngs can get weird.

That's what I was trying to get at..

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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