Extending a rappel anchor master point over a ledge can make for an easier rope pull, but a tougher start to the rappel. Rigging a “courtesy anchor” can make things easier and safer for just about everyone. (Sorry there, last person . . . )
You top out on a pitch, and see a perfect tree anchor 10 feet back from the edge. Here's how to quickly rig a stout anchor that will position you in the perfect spot with a ready-made masterpoint to belay or haul.
You're setting up a top rope anchor at a cliff top. There are no bolts or hangers at the top of the route, but there are some stout trees growing a ways back from the edge of the cliff. You have two ropes. What's a good way to quickly rig a super strong and secure anchor?
Especially on alpine routes, you can count on occasionally finding a rappel station with just a single marginal connection for the rope. There's a few ways to back it up. Here's one that doesn’t involve leaving a precious carabiner behind.
There are many variations on anchor building with a cordelette. Here's one that uses pretty much no knots at all, just a couple of clove hitches.
Do you need to fix a rope and have a stout tree available? Lucky you - this is probably the simplest and strongest anchor you could ever build. Just avoid those pine trees . . .
Passing a long cordelette loop around a stout tree and tying off with an overhand knot is an excellent way to make an anchor. However, if you want to use the shelf, you want to think carefully about where it actually is. It may not be where you think.
You’re a newer climber. You want to learn the critical skill of building good anchors. Here’s an excellent place to start.
Using a sling to make an anchor from two pieces of gear? Try a clove hitch at the master point; it has several advantages over the standard overhand loop.
Making an anchor with only the rope and a few carabiners can be a very useful skill. Here is a Crafty Rope Trick (CRT) that does this with just a few carabiners and knots you already know.
The “quad” anchor rig doesn’t have to be tied with a humongo cordelette. If you have two stout bolts or screws next to each other, get the benefits of fast set up, super strong, good load distribution and complete redundancy, all in a light, compact package with the “mini quad.”
The “backside clove hitch”? Is that something you might find in a San Francisco leather bar? Nope, it's a new approach to transitioning from climbing to rappelling. It has a host of subtle benefits, and it's a Crafty Rope Trick (CRT) well worth adding to your toolbox.
Trying to build a three piece rock anchor with just one double runner? The “V clove” anchor is a Crafty Rope Trick (CRT) that will let you do this. Slick!
Need to build a quick 2 piece anchor and all you have left is a shoulder length sling? The SWAMP anchor is your new best friend! Learn it here.
Move over, old school cordelette-tied-in-one-huge-loop. The bunny ears cordelette is an improvement.
Using a cordelette is standard practice for many climbers often build multi piece of gear anchors. But, there’s a few more tricks than the standard set up that can make your life easier. Learn a few here.
Setting up a top rope anchor from above can place you dangerously close to the cliff edge. Here’s a simple and fast way to safeguard yourself whenever you’re working close to a drop off.
Climbing sport routes with a beginner who doesn’t know how to safely clean and lower? Here’s how to rig the anchor with no wear on the fixed gear, and maximum safety for your follower.
Cordelettes - If you want to use one, the first choice is diameter and length. There are some standards, but which one you pick might depend on what kind of climbing you’re mostly doing. (If you climb a lot on snow and rock, you might want to get one for each.)
A majority of sport climbers are fine with using two standard quickdraws for their anchor. Most of the time, that's probably cool, but for instructional settings or your own peace of mind, you can go one step further and use lockers on everything.
Need to make an absolutely bombproof anchor around a tree, for a rappel or maybe to pull your car out of a ditch? Try this.
There may be a few rare times when you need to make a stopper knot semi permanent, but still have a way to easily untie it when needed. Answer: zip tie.
Part tensioning hitch, part rope sorcery. Plus, it has a great name. You don't need to learn the “voodoo hitch”, but you should. Tie it 10 times, you still probably won't figure out how it works.
The bowline can be a helpful knot for climbers to fix a rope around a tree or boulder. But, many people it tricky; the “rabbit coming out of the hole and running around the tree” thing is not as easy as it might sound. Check out the “snap bowline”, where a slip knot and little bit of rope sorcery semi-magically cause a completed bowline to “snap” into place.
Every climber knows how to tie a water knot in webbing. But, there is a lot more you can do with a length of webbing, and canyoneers know all the tricks. Check out this video by canyoneering expert Rich Carlson to learn a few of them.
If you clip a carabiner inside the master point knot on your anchor, you probably won't have to resort to your teeth or needle nose pliers to get it untied,
Yes, every climbing instruction book for the last two decades has told you to always use a double fisherman's knot to tie your cordelette into a loop. Guess what: the overhand knot works fine.
The munter pop? Is that some kind of Austrian ice cream? Nope, it’s a very Crafty Rope Trick (CRT) you can use if you ever need to lower someone two rope lengths.
While more of a trick knot used by guides, the auto locking Munter hitch can still be a good tool in your bag of Crafty Rope Tricks (CRT).
The brake knot, designed to add increased friction in the event of a crevasse fall, is the best choice for traveling as a two person team on a glacier.
The water knot, a long-time standard to connect tubular webbing, is not the best choice. Here's an alternative knot that’s more secure.
If you're on multi pitch bolted routes, you really don't need any anchor building supplies. The rope and willingness to learn a new knot or two are all you need.
Need to lower two people at once on a rope, or some really heavy haul bags? The “Super Munter” hitch would be an excellent choice.
The butterfly knot is probably something you didn’t learn on day one of climbing school. But after the basics, it's a good one to add to your toolbox. Learn the four climbing situations where the butterfly knot comes in handy.
The flat overhand knot (formerly known as the European Death Knot, or EDK) is a fine choice for general rappelling. But, if you have ropes of significantly different diameters, are rapping with an extra heavy load, or just want a little extra confidence, here’s an excellent, easy-to-tie alternative.
Does every climber need to know these definitions? No. But for the Type A personality, (which is probably most of us climbers) the difference between these three different terms is actually quite interesting.
Sometimes, to better share the load on an anchor, it's helpful to shorten a sling just a centimeter or so at a time. Here's two nifty ways to do it.