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Transferring anchors?


Original Post
Jacob Deneault · · Silverthorne, CO · Joined May 2018 · Points: 0

Pardon the newbie question.  But I’ve got a good one IMO.  We’ve climbed over at White Cliff in summit CO a bunch this summer and have been eyeballing a few routes that are just outside our lead climbing abilities.  Today I finally got the route next to one of them done.  Is there anything wrong with cleaning up that anchor and lowering over to the other anchor and building a new anchor there.  I cleaned up my anchor and lowered down and over to the other.  Ten feet down ten yards over.  Clipped my tether in, clipped a few draws in, rebuilt the anchor, sliding x with knots because we still wander a bit, clipped the rope in, took a bite on the belayer/old anchor side and tied a new 8 on a bite, clipped that into my harness, pulled the rope through old anchor, threw it down to belayer who put me back on belay, untied the 8 on a bite on the belayer side, tested the system, untethered, lowered down.  I have yet to see where anyone asks about it.  Is that safe?  Was that totally screwed up?  Better ways?  Thoughts?  We do our best to avoid lowering off chains btw...

Jon Rhoderick · · Redmond, OR · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 865

That’s totally fine

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

You'd get your hands chopped off for an act like that in at least a half dozen 3rd world countries.

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 867

Sounds like some extra steps.  Why the draws?  Why the second 8?  Was the rope long enough to just continue lowering?  Or did you need to pull the rope and toss for the extra lengh?  Did you remain redundant?  Or were you clipped in to just one bolt with your tether?  Keep it simple. Less likely to make a mistake. 

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 122

That sounds fine, but could be simplified.

What I'd do upon arriving to the anchor (assuming this is a typical US bolted sport anchor): tether to the new anchor with two (2) points, "Off belay, <belayer>", pull the rope through the old anchor and drop it, clip two quickdraws to the chains (opposite and opposed), clip the rope through the quickdraws, "On belay, <belayer>", wait for them to get you on belay and tight, remove tethers, "Ready to lower, <belayer>".

There's two improvements I made to your method:

  1. Choose the sliding x or 2 opposite and opposed quickdraws. You don't need both. I chose quickdraws, because on modern bolts the sling in the sliding X is far more likely to fail in anything else in the system. I know of no accidents caused by opposite and opposed quickdraws failing. The sliding x might make sense in some situations, but I don't think the sliding x AND quickdraws makes sense in any situations I've come across.
  2. Adding a second tether point. I get that your method of tying the figure 8 on the belayer's side and clipping it to the harness is intended to create redundancy for your tether, but tethering into 2 points is faster, and avoids some possible ways your way could go wrong. Consider what would happen if your tether point failed and the route is overhanging: now you're hanging on your rope, and it may be problematic to safely unweight the rope so that you can untie to get lowered. Also consider that now you've got two figure 8s (your original one and the one you just tied) which creates the opportunity to untie the wrong one when it comes time to untie: that's potentially game over. Adding a second tether point avoids these issues entirely.
Jacob Deneault · · Silverthorne, CO · Joined May 2018 · Points: 0

Thanks for the responses!  I thought there was a character limit on the posts so I crammed it all into one big heaping messy question.  Let me clarify a couple of steps I did.

1.  The quickdraws I mentioned were just used to secure myself to the chains on the new route while I built the new anchor.  I was tethered to the bolt with a sling and a couple of quickdraws on the chains for redundancy.  They weren't part of the anchor I built.  Just redundancy while attached to the anchor chains and working on new anchor.

2.  In hindsight, I realized last night, the second figure eight on a bite was not necessary and could lead to a bad mistake of untying the wrong one.  I did it because I was used to securing the rope while cleaning up the anchor.  Being that I was off belay and running the rope through I naturally tied it to myself to secure it.  But...I was already tied into it so in reality that rope wasn't going anywhere and it was an unnecessary step.

3.  I use the magic x with limiting knots because we do still move around a bit on routes.  It allows for the system to be equalized where just using two quick draws wouldn't be equalized.  It's quick, easy to setup, redundant, limited extension, and stays equalized.  If there's a better option I am always open to hear it that's for sure.

Thanks again for the responses and feedback.  It was a process I hadn't read much about or seen done anywhere so I felt it'd be best to ask.

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 122
Jacob Deneault wrote:3.  I use the magic x with limiting knots because we do still move around a bit on routes.  It allows for the system to be equalized where just using two quick draws wouldn't be equalized.  It's quick, easy to setup, redundant, limited extension, and stays equalized.  If there's a better option I am always open to hear it that's for sure.

I think you're overestimating the danger of moving around on routes: a lack of micro-equalization like that isn't going to be what causes your anchor to fail. Nor is "not moving around on routes" a really achievable goal--moving right and left is probably going to be a part of your climbing forever. The sliding X is arguably useful for multipitch if the pitch coming into the anchor arrives in a different direction than the pitch leaving the anchor leaves, so that you're talking about 90 degree changes in direction--much more than is going to be caused by you moving around a bit on toprope. And even then I'd be looking for other solutions instead of trusting my life to a single sling. But on a single pitch, the equalization benefits of the sliding X are fairly irrelevant.

Unless you're doubling up the sling on the sliding X, it's NOT redundant, and that's a much bigger issue than any lack of equalization. The sling that isn't backed up is way more likely to fail than either of the bolts.

Don't take my word for it, though, listen to the ASCA, who have even stronger words to say about the sliding X:

Many climbers use a "sliding X" to equalize two pieces - ususally beginner climbers with bolt anchors. You should NEVER use this except in two specialized              cases (see below). While the sliding X does equalize the pieces, it assumes that neither could break, since if one does break, there is severe extension in the system - enough that it would              likely cause the carabiners to break. Since it assumes neither piece would break, it's a stupid system - if neither would break, there's no need for equalization. If one might break, then              there is WAY too much extension. This is why many call it the "death X." Instead, use one sling off of each bolt or piece. You can tie one shorter to approximately equalize the pieces              if needed.
http://www.safeclimbing.org/education/slidingx.htm
Harumpfster Boondoggle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

Its a frickin' top rope. A sliding X is not ideal for belaying a FF2 onto the belay, but the fact of the matter is that it is fine for anything else.

If your bolts are failing on a top rope fall (1 foot fall with 30 feet of rope out = FF 0.0333) then you are just plain gonna die. Another 12" of extension (now a 2' fall with 30' of rope = FF 0.0666) is still **thousands of pounds** less force than a FF2 which is what the bolts should **easily** hold . We are talking about forces barely larger than body weight even after extension.

State of the Art thinking about anchors emphasizes the strength of placements, not myths of equalization OR myths about "shock loading". If you are clipped to both bolts in a redundant fashion you are safe. Using two slings and two carabiners with gates opposed is very sound practice, imo.

Stop overthinking things and go actually climb something.

And yes, I am sponsored by the ASCA for rebolting projects. Greg Barnes (or some other well meaning person) wrote that about the sliding X in 2003, it was a worry just over-emphasized in the past.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535
David Kerkeslager wrote:

I think you're overestimating the danger of moving around on routes: a lack of micro-equalization like that isn't going to be what causes your anchor to fail. Nor is "not moving around on routes" a really achievable goal--moving right and left is probably going to be a part of your climbing forever. The sliding X is arguably useful for multipitch if the pitch coming into the anchor arrives in a different direction than the pitch leaving the anchor leaves, so that you're talking about 90 degree changes in direction--much more than is going to be caused by you moving around a bit on toprope. And even then I'd be looking for other solutions instead of trusting my life to a single sling. But on a single pitch, the equalization benefits of the sliding X are fairly irrelevant.

Unless you're doubling up the sling on the sliding X, it's NOT redundant, and that's a much bigger issue than any lack of equalization. The sling that isn't backed up is way more likely to fail than either of the bolts.

Don't take my word for it, though, listen to the ASCA, who have even stronger words to say about the sliding X:

http://www.safeclimbing.org/education/slidingx.htm

He's using a quad, not a sliding X. Read it again.

To the OP- you can use draws on any bolted anchor. No anchor will equalize the load, so you don't have to worry about it. 
Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 582

10 feet down 10 meters over?? Couldn't this be a potentially nasty pendulum fall?

Best, OLH

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240
Old lady H wrote: 10 feet down 10 meters over?? Couldn't this be a potentially nasty pendulum fall?

Best, OLH

Come on where is your sense of adventure! Just think king's swing etc.

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 122
John Wilder wrote: 

He's using a quad, not a sliding X. Read it again.

Huh? He says,

Pardon the newbie question.  But I’ve got a good one IMO.  We’ve climbed over at White Cliff in summit CO a bunch this summer and have been eyeballing a few routes that are just outside our lead climbing abilities.  Today I finally got the route next to one of them done.  Is there anything wrong with cleaning up that anchor and lowering over to the other anchor and building a new anchor there.  I cleaned up my anchor and lowered down and over to the other.  Ten feet down ten yards over.  Clipped my tether in, clipped a few draws in, rebuilt the anchor, sliding x with knots because we still wander a bit, clipped the rope in, took a bite on the belayer/old anchor side and tied a new 8 on a bite, clipped that into my harness, pulled the rope through old anchor, threw it down to belayer who put me back on belay, untied the 8 on a bite on the belayer side, tested the system, untethered, lowered down. I have yet to see where anyone asks about it.  Is that safe?  Was that totally screwed up?  Better ways?  Thoughts?  We do our best to avoid lowering off chains btw...
And then again:

3.  I use the magic x with limiting knots because we do still move around a bit on routes.  It allows for the system to be equalized where just using two quick draws wouldn't be equalized.  It's quick, easy to setup, redundant, limited extension, and stays equalized.  If there's a better option I am always open to hear it that's for sure.
(I've heard the sliding x also called the magic x.) Also note that this is a response to my post and he doesn't correct me when I mention the sliding x.

Nowhere does the OP mention the quad, and the addition of limiting knots does not turn the sliding X into the quad, because the sliding X doesn't typically have 4 strands (if the OP is doubling up the sliding X it would, but there's no mention of this).
John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535

A sliding X with limiting knots is, for all intents and purposes, a quad.

The quad was born from the sliding X in an attempt to provide equalization and no extension. The quad simply added a couple of strands to it, but they function the exact same way as an anchor setup. 

Moreover, the link you provided is warning against using the sliding X with no knots, which is not the case here.

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 122
John Wilder wrote: A sliding X with limiting knots is, for all intents and purposes, a quad.

The quad was born from the sliding X in an attempt to provide equalization and no extension. The quad simply added a couple of strands to it, but they function the exact same way as an anchor setup.

Moreover, the link you provided is warning against using the sliding X with no knots, which is not the case here.

Okay, but can we agree that the sliding x and the quad are not the same thing, and that even with the limiter knots, it isn't redundant, which was my main criticism to begin with?

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535
David Kerkeslager wrote:

Okay, but can we agree that the sliding x and the quad are not the same thing, and that even with the limiter knots, it isn't redundant, which was my main criticism to begin with?

Why isn't it redundant? You can lose a strand on any part and it won't fail.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 582
ViperScale . wrote:

Come on where is your sense of adventure! Just think king's swing etc.

Lol! Yeah, I'd totally be up for that....except we have arete, dihedral, arete, dihedral, arete, dihedral, into infinity here. Stooopud rock!

Best, OLH
David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 122
John Wilder wrote:

Why isn't it redundant? You can lose a strand on any part and it won't fail.


Oops, yeah! I missed the fact that this was an effect of the twist combined with the limiter knots.

Jacob Deneault · · Silverthorne, CO · Joined May 2018 · Points: 0
Old lady H wrote:

Lol! Yeah, I'd totally be up for that....except we have arete, dihedral, arete, dihedral, arete, dihedral, into infinity here. Stooopud rock!

Best, OLH

I thought about the fact that I might go for a ride if I fell but the section was pretty mellow slab and a pretty clean ledge over to the new anchor so I went for it.  I'm due for and could probably use a few falls at this point anyways lol, would just prefer it not to be on any of the slab in that area.  Maybe I wouldn't be so petrified of falling if I took a few.


Thanks for all the feedback everyone!!  Sounds like my decisions weren't too off the wall (pardon the pun) and that is nice to know.

Bryce Adamson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 748
Jacob Deneault wrote:

I thought about the fact that I might go for a ride if I fell but the section was pretty mellow slab and a pretty clean ledge over to the new anchor so I went for it.  I'm due for and could probably use a few falls at this point anyways lol, would just prefer it not to be on any of the slab in that area.  Maybe I wouldn't be so petrified of falling if I took a few.


Thanks for all the feedback everyone!!  Sounds like my decisions weren't too off the wall (pardon the pun) and that is nice to know.

Am I understanding correctly that you traversed 30 feet out from your anchor without intermediate protection and thought a fall would be ok? I don't know what there is to hit on that cliff, but people have died from shorter falls. Stay safe.

Ocalslay Onlyyay · · Not That Into Climbing · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 1,160

Add one more figure 8 and three draws and you're solid.

Jacob Deneault · · Silverthorne, CO · Joined May 2018 · Points: 0
Bryce Adamson wrote:

Am I understanding correctly that you traversed 30 feet out from your anchor without intermediate protection and thought a fall would be ok? I don't know what there is to hit on that cliff, but people have died from shorter falls. Stay safe.

I wouldn't quite put it that way but I completely get what you're saying.  I was still on top rope.  Moving over to the other route also involved climbing down a bit.  So yes I would have pendulumed a little but not from a straight 30 feet out really.  It felt and appeared no different than climbing a bit left or right while in a normal climb on top rope.  Also it was nowhere near long enough to worry about hitting the ground or anything like that either.

It's a big mellow smooth slab.  It may make me nervous but I anticipate that most climbers would probably walk right up the damn thing lol.  As you can tell I'm fairly new to the sport but it felt no different then moving around a bit on top rope.  Definitely let me know if I'm wrong after clarifying it a little.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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