Your climbing goals are fulfilled when you fly up bolted faces on immaculate rock. A mistake on the top of a climbing route can have fatal consequences, however. For a safe top-rope climb, how do you set up the right climbing anchors? How do you clean the gear off the anchor afterward?
Clean climbing involves untying the rope from the harness – a daunting prospect, even terrifying. We want to make the complicated, and potentially dangerous, into something much safer and easier here at Trek Amaze. The following post will walk you through setting up and removing climbing anchors. To know How To Set Up Top Rope Anchors With Static Ropes check out this article!
WHAT IS CLIMBING?
Climbing is a sport of climbing up bolted rock route, consisting of a series of safety bolts drilled into the rock every few meters. When you climb, you clip the wire rope into the lower carabiner, securing the top carabiner to each bolt as you climb. In the event of a fall, this will catch you.
WHAT IS AN ANCHOR?
An anchor is at the top of every climb. Almost always, there are two points of safety, whether they are bolts, chains, or rings attached to bolts in the rock.
The top carabiner of a quickdraw should be clipped into each anchor point of a climb. The rope should be then be clipped into the lower carabiners of each quickdraw. To ensure the rope cannot unclip from both quickdraws, ensure the quickdraws face opposite directions. (This is the only reason why you should always bring two quickdraws more than the number of bolts on the route: one for each bolt, and two for the anchor.)
The belayer can safely lower you to the ground once the rope is clipped through opposing quickdraws on the anchor. The route has now been equipped for other climbers, with quickdraws on every bolt and two at the anchor.
Among the safest forms of climbing, top-rope climbing involves a rope that runs from the belayer to the anchor at the top, and then back down to the climber. By maintaining a tight belay, the climber will fall with the least amount of rope stretch possible – often only a few inches.
For top-roping, you will find several ways to set up the anchor, but never thread the rope directly through the chains or rings on the anchor points. This practice is considered poor since it will wear down the anchor points and ultimately render them unsafe to use.
QUICKDRAWS ON THE ANCHOR POINTS
A top-rope anchor can most easily be set up by having the rope run through the lower carabiners of two opposing rapiddraws. A climber usually sets up this setup once they reach the top of a route.
AN EQUALIZED MASTER POINT
In addition to using opposing quickdraws, which are perfectly safe, you can also set up an equalized anchor system, in which the climber’s weight is equally distributed across both anchor points.
Two double-length slings/runners or cordelettes and four carabiners will be needed for this project. Attach a carabiner to each anchor point, and thread the sling through the carabiners. All four strands of the sling should be pulled downwards so that they will be parallel to the climber’s location. The master point is located in the best position to absorb the force of a fall on both anchor points, so if the climber falls, the master point will absorb the fall.
A ‘V’-shaped sling should now be in place. You are now ready to create a master point. You can do this in two ways.
Flip one side of the sling once to create a sliding X. The two remaining carabiners should be clipped into the sliding-X, and the rope should be clipped through both carabiners. Ensure that the carabiners are facing opposite directions. This method has the advantage that the master point automatically equalizes, regardless of the direction of pulling on the anchor. As a result of the extended sling, if one of the anchor points fails, the other anchor point will be shock-loaded and the sling will lengthen. Take a look at this video to learn how to build a sliding-x.
Tie all four strands of the sling together in an overhand knot or a figure eight knot. In this way, the anchor points are pre-equalized and made independent of each other. Your two remaining carabiners should be facing opposite directions. Clip the rope into the carabiners and then into the carabiners.
As the climber moves around, the master point may not always be perfectly equalized, but it will still be fairly equalized. When a pre-equalized anchor is used, both anchors are protected if an anchor fails for any reason. Take a look at this video to learn how to build a pre-equalized anchor.
Top-rope anchors are intended to avoid potential hazards. It’s a good idea to avoid running your rope or sling over rough, sharp edges, as this could cause damage. Also, the carabiners need to be cleanly hung. In the event that a carabiner runs over an edge, a fall could bend the carabiner, compromising its strength, and possibly causing it to break.
Make sure the anchor bolts are tight, and if not, tighten them. Make sure your carabiners don’t have sharp edges that could cut the rope. Hardware, including bolts, chains, and carabiners, should stay relatively free of rust and not be worn out too much. Sometimes, the metal will almost completely wear through.
While it is not unsafe to use non-locking carabiners, it is safer to use ones that are locked. Make sure all locking carabiners are locked if you’re using them.
CLEANING THE ANCHOR
We will elaborate on the most common methods for cleaning anchors of climbs in this post.
As soon as you reach the top of a sport climb and want to clean the quickdraws or the master point, you must secure yourself into the anchor. To clip from the waist and leg loops of your harness to the anchor, you can use a sling, quickdraws, or a Personal Anchor System (PAS).
Ensure you are always backed up. Clip a different loop of your PAS to each anchor point using two locking carabiners. Make sure that your PAS is tight by calling “SLACK” to your belayer and putting your weight on it.
Call “SECURE” to your belayer once you are securely attached to the anchor and ready to clean your gear. Now that the rope has been rethreaded through the anchor points, you must fix it.
As you untie the rope from your harness, you may want to secure the rope so that you don’t drop it, leaving you at the top of the climb without a rope to get down. Climbers typically tighten their rope to a quickdraw on their harness by pulling a few meters of slack.
Later you have to untie the rope from your harness, thread it through both rings or bottom chain links of the two anchor points, and then tie the rope back through your waist and leg loops of your harness as if you were about to begin climbing again.
The anchor points can now be cleaned of any gear, including quickdraws, slings, and carabiners, except for the PAS. Remove the clove-hitched rope from your harness as well.
To let your belayer know when you are ready for the descent, call “TAKE”. Through the anchor points, the rope should be tight. To test if the rope can take your weight, remove some weight from the PAS.
Ensure that your belayer is holding your weight by removing your PAS and remaining carabiners from the anchor before calling “READY TO LOWER”. It’s a good idea to leave your anchor the way you found it – with two points of safety and nothing else.
(When the route has sharp edges, rappelling from the anchor can put the rope at risk of being cut. If this is the case, rappel down after the anchor has been cleaned. Know how you and your belayer are going to descend the climb before you start; many accidents have resulted from misunderstandings between climber and belayer, primarily when the belayer thought the climber was going to rappel.)
CLEANING THE QUICKDRAWS FROM THE ROUTE
If you need to clean the quickdraws off the bolts on the climb, you may want to clip a quickdraw to the belay loop of your harness, then clip the other carabiner of the quickdraw to the rope running through the other quickdraws. The bolts will be closer to you as you are lowered, so you can reach them more easily.
Before you remove the final quickdraw (the one closest to the ground), remember to unclip the quickdraw from the rope. If you don’t, you might knock your belayer off balance as you clean the last quickdraw.
Pull the rope down from the anchor once you are back on the ground, and move on to the next route.
How do you use climbing anchors?
To use climbing anchors, check out this video.
What equipment do you need to sport climb?
The equipment you need for sport climb is as follows:
Down-turned Climbing Shoes
Braking Belay Device
How do you clean anchor climbing?
To know how to clean anchor, you need to check this article as it is written above.
How do I get started in sports climbing?
To get started with sports climbing, check out this video.