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LostinMaine


Jul 4, 2012, 5:25 PM
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Building anchors with the rope
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There are threads galore about anchor building with sliding X's, cordelettes, equalettes, stupidlettes, and every other gizmo under the sun. Anchor books skim over the good old days when cave men in lycra or EBs simply used the climbing rope for building anchors. When they are described, they are always described at a disadvantage because they are presumably static with poor load distribution among anchor points. There is a strong contingent of climbers who eschew the 'lettes in favor of the rope.

For those who prefer to use the climbing rope, what is your preferred rope anchor design when in these two "ideal" conditions:
1. 3 bomber nuts in a vertical crack with a fourth set for an upward pull

2. 3 bomber cams in a horizontal crack

In scenario #1, I generally figure-8 to the top-most piece and clove hitch the remaining pieces trying my best to equalize them.

In scenario #2, I tend to focus on the two strongest pieces and tie in with a bowline on a bight and clove hitch the third somewhat snugly.

I'm curious what others typically do since most all of my partners use cords and slings in mystifying configurations.

Edited to add image with redirect for 3 horizontal placements.



(This post was edited by LostinMaine on Jul 5, 2012, 11:08 AM)


Partner rgold


Jul 4, 2012, 6:16 PM
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Re: [LostinMaine] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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For the bazillioneth time, here's what I do with horizontal pieces.



i clove vertical pieces in series from the bottom up. When making the top clove hitch, I take in slack so that the two biners below are roughly horizontal, which means that the two higher pieces will get at least a little loading. If the anchor needs a directional piece, I usually use a sling for that. Of course, the method depicted above for horizontal pieces can be used for anything including upward directionals.


guangzhou


Jul 4, 2012, 7:23 PM
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Re: [rgold] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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RJ, Excellent response.

I like using the rope as the anchor and usually do. The times I don't is when my partner isn't going to lead the next pitch. (Leap Frog)


bearbreeder


Jul 4, 2012, 11:56 PM
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Re: [LostinMaine] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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clove one of the outer piece ... pull through enough rope ... clove the other outer piece ... tie a fig 8/overhand with the bights you pulled through ...

easy, simple, fast, and works as well as anything fancier

an even faster way with 3 pieces is to take a sliding x to 2 pieces with a sling clove the rope to that, clove the rope to the 3rd piece, and then clove the bight in between to the masterpoint ... i say faster because there are no knots to untie when the second takes it apart ...


Partner cracklover


Jul 5, 2012, 10:09 AM
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Re: [LostinMaine] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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LostinMaine wrote:
There are threads galore about anchor building with sliding X's, cordelettes, equalettes, stupidlettes, and every other gizmo under the sun. Anchor books skim over the good old days when cave men in lycra or EBs simply used the climbing rope for building anchors. When they are described, they are always described at a disadvantage because they are presumably static with poor load distribution among anchor points. There is a strong contingent of climbers who eschew the 'lettes in favor of the rope.

For those who prefer to use the climbing rope, what is your preferred rope anchor design when in these two "ideal" conditions:
1. 3 bomber nuts in a vertical crack with a fourth set for an upward pull

2. 3 bomber cams in a horizontal crack

In scenario #1, I generally figure-8 to the top-most piece and clove hitch the remaining pieces trying my best to equalize them.

In scenario #2, I tend to focus on the two strongest pieces and tie in with a bowline on a bight and clove hitch the third somewhat snugly.

I'm curious what others typically do since most all of my partners use cords and slings in mystifying configurations.

For most any 3 point anchors, assuming I'm climbing on a single rope (doubles would be different): Fig-8 on a bight to one piece, equalize the other two with a sliding-x on a sling, clove the rope into that, and adjust the clove to equalize load.



GO

(edited to show the powerpoint/redirection point in the image).


(This post was edited by cracklover on Jul 9, 2012, 9:33 AM)


LostinMaine


Jul 5, 2012, 10:43 AM
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Re: [rgold] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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rgold wrote:
For the bazillioneth time, here's what I do with horizontal pieces.

Thanks for the post (even if it was excessively redundant to what you have posted in the past). I was hoping for dialogue rather than a search.

If I recall, you said you climb most frequently on doubles ropes. What, if anything, changes with the configuration you've posted if you are on doubles?


JimTitt


Jul 5, 2012, 11:33 AM
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Re: [LostinMaine] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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Double rope:-
Two pieces- clove each rope into one piece.
Three pieces- clove into one then the next, back to your harness (karabiner or direct tie in), other rope to other piece.
Four pieces-as for the first two pieces in a three piece system but twice.


acorneau


Jul 6, 2012, 12:55 PM
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Re: [LostinMaine] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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My favorite way is almost exactly what you have pictured, except in opposite order...

I clove myself in to the first piece (the right piece in your picture), bowline on a bight to the second and third, clove the end of that back to my belay loop, master point is the same as in your picture.

It's quicker for the team if you can clove in to a bomber piece and go off belay, that way you can continue to construct the rest of the anchor while your belayer is doing stuff on his/her end of things.

Cool


(This post was edited by acorneau on Jul 6, 2012, 1:00 PM)


Partner rgold


Jul 6, 2012, 3:36 PM
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Re: [LostinMaine] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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LostinMaine wrote:
rgold wrote:
For the bazillioneth time, here's what I do with horizontal pieces.

Thanks for the post (even if it was excessively redundant to what you have posted in the past). I was hoping for dialogue rather than a search.

If I recall, you said you climb most frequently on doubles ropes. What, if anything, changes with the configuration you've posted if you are on doubles?

I do what Jim said, which is exactly as in the shot I posted, except that knot #4 is made with the second rope.

Also, if you aren't a power point believer, you can skip the power point and use the rope tie-in loop for that purpose.


LostinMaine


Jul 7, 2012, 10:49 AM
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Re: [acorneau] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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acorneau wrote:
My favorite way is almost exactly what you have pictured, except in opposite order...

I clove myself in to the first piece (the right piece in your picture), bowline on a bight to the second and third, clove the end of that back to my belay loop, master point is the same as in your picture.

It's quicker for the team if you can clove in to a bomber piece and go off belay, that way you can continue to construct the rest of the anchor while your belayer is doing stuff on his/her end of things.

Cool

I used to do that as well, until my bomber first piece wasn't as bomber as I thought. Though I was on a decent ledge, it still shook me up a bit (having called off belay already but only in a single piece that didn't hold so well). Yep, it should have been bomber before I trusted it, but at times it can be deceiving. The rock broke, in this case.

Since then, I have always tied the bowline on a bight first. I'm not convinced it slows me down enough to consider going back.


guangzhou


Jul 7, 2012, 8:24 PM
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Re: [LostinMaine] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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LostinMaine wrote:
acorneau wrote:
My favorite way is almost exactly what you have pictured, except in opposite order...

I clove myself in to the first piece (the right piece in your picture), bowline on a bight to the second and third, clove the end of that back to my belay loop, master point is the same as in your picture.

It's quicker for the team if you can clove in to a bomber piece and go off belay, that way you can continue to construct the rest of the anchor while your belayer is doing stuff on his/her end of things.

Cool

I used to do that as well, until my bomber first piece wasn't as bomber as I thought. Though I was on a decent ledge, it still shook me up a bit (having called off belay already but only in a single piece that didn't hold so well). Yep, it should have been bomber before I trusted it, but at times it can be deceiving. The rock broke, in this case.

Since then, I have always tied the bowline on a bight first. I'm not convinced it slows me down enough to consider going back.

It's what I do, but I don't call "Off belay until the entire belay station is completed.


Partner cracklover


Jul 9, 2012, 9:41 AM
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Re: [rgold] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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The OP said he was interested in starting a discussion. I'd be interested also. I'd love to hear the arguments for or against one method over another. I'm particularly interested in things that someone might not notice the first time setting up the method, but something you've learned over time and with use.

Those of you who use one of these methods - can you elucidate specific benefits that you do not see in the other two methods?

And also, those of you who use one method regularly, is there anything you've found from experience is either annoying, or you've realized could potentially be a problem?

I feel that some degree of organization is required to get the ball rolling, so let me propose the following.

It sounds to me like there are three methods that have been proposed here, with each one most likely having many variations. I'll lay them out and give them provisional names.

1 - Bowline on a bight plus clove:


2 - The Bazillianchor:


3 - Figure-8 on a bight plus sliding-x:


I'll start.

  • From my understanding of them, all three do an adequate job of dividing the forces between three pieces. All three anchors will, in an average case, put half the force on one of the pieces, and split the remaining load on the other two pieces. None attempt to split the load evenly between all three pieces. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just worth noting.


  • All three incorporate clove hitches on the anchor points. This should allow for a little bit of self-correction for imperfectly "equalized" legs in the event of a very heavy load on the anchor.



  • Number of knots/cloves:

    1. Bowline on a bight plus clove: Two knots and one clove hitch.

    2. The Bazillianchor: One or two knots, and four clove hitches.

    3. Figure-8 on a bight plus sliding-x: Two knots and one clove hitch.


    It seems to me that of the three, the Bazillianchor would require more time than the other two for setup and breakdown, due to the number of knots and cloves.

    A few benefits I see to my method owing to the fact that the figure-8 on a bight plus sliding-x is the only one of the three that incorporates any dynamic equalization.

  • It might provide slightly better equalization between the two shared pieces than the other methods in all generic cases when the leader doesn't get the cloves perfectly equalized.


  • It could provide significantly better equalization if a load were to come unexpectedly from one side. Both other anchor methods would always feel the entire force on only one piece: the outer piece opposite the direction of load. The fig-8 on a bight plus sliding-x, however, in the same situation, could distribute forces between the middle and outer pieces.


  • If the piece feeling half the load on any of the three anchor methods were to fail, the method incorporating the sliding x would most likely do the best in distributing the load equally between the two remaining pieces, making further cascade failure less likely.


  • And a few (minor?) negatives:
  • It does absorb a single biner and a sling from the rack.


  • If the sling is cut, and no limiter knots had been tied in it, the anchor now only has one piece.


  • And one last thing I'll add. If you use my method, make sure to tie your redirection/powerpoint knot first. If you try to tie it after doing everything else, you may discover that you don't have enough rope, or it moves you from the stance you wanted to use to belay.

    Sorry this post got so long. Just wanted to put everything out in one place. Feel free to just address one point at a time.

    GO


    Partner rgold


    Jul 9, 2012, 12:41 PM
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    Re: [cracklover] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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    cracklover wrote:

  • From my understanding of them, all three do an adequate job of dividing the forces between three pieces. All three anchors will, in an average case, put half the force on one of the pieces, and split the remaining load on the other two pieces. None attempt to split the load evenly between all three pieces. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just worth noting.

  • The now-named bazillion anchor does attempt to equalize all pieces, and unlike the others does not start from a baseline in which half the load goes to one piece.

    In reply to:
  • The Bazillianchor: One or two knots, and four clove hitches.

  • That second knot is just an illustration of something that might be done with the slack rope, so for comparison purposes you should say one knot if a power point is desired or else no knots if the biner at position 3 in the diagram is clipped to the tie-in knot loop. But, as indicated in the diagram, if you want to engage the entire anchor while escaping the belay, then you'll need another biner and another clove hitch.

    In reply to:
    It seems to me that of the three, the Bazillianchor would require more time than the other two for setup and breakdown, due to the number of knots and cloves.

    Maybe in some cases, but you are talking about seconds, not enough to make a difference even on a twenty-pitch route, and I'm not even sure you are right, since the other methods have knots that have to be adjusted---one or two-looped figure-8's on a bight---and these take longer to get right than clove hitches, and can be harder to untie if they've been weighted.

    In other cases, when that first anchor is remote and not near where the belayer wants to be situated, the eight on a bight knots make it harder to get adjustment right and will likely either consume more time than the cloves or else oblige the belayer to settle for a less optimal configuration.

    In reply to:
    A few benefits I see to my method owing to the fact that the figure-8 on a bight plus sliding-x is the only one of the three that incorporates any dynamic equalization.

  • It might provide slightly better equalization between the two shared pieces than the other methods in all generic cases when the leader doesn't get the cloves perfectly equalized.


  • It could provide significantly better equalization if a load were to come unexpectedly from one side. Both other anchor methods would always feel the entire force on only one piece: the outer piece opposite the direction of load. The fig-8 on a bight plus sliding-x, however, in the same situation, could distribute forces between the middle and outer pieces.


  • If the piece feeling half the load on any of the three anchor methods were to fail, the method incorporating the sliding x would most likely do the best in distributing the load equally between the two remaining pieces, making further cascade failure less likely.

  • All of these are suppositions that might be true, but also might not. The more "dynamic equalization" systems are tested, the less evidence there is that they work at all.

    In reply to:
    And a few (minor?) negatives...

    The Bazillion anchor is the only one that adapt to anything that happens in the field. The other two both require that two of the three pieces be very close together.

    The double figure-eight/clove hitch seems the least versatile. What happens if you have to place all three anchors essentially at belay-ledge level, for example? It also seems to have inferior behavior in a factor-2 fall situation, since the belayer is only directly anchored to two pieces, and, although the rope can be redirected through the power point, the rigging makes it possible that the power point could be too low to be loaded in some cases, not to mention the potential problems caused by possible collision of the belay device and belayer's hand with the power point.

    All that said, they'll all work in most situations most of the time, so whatever floats yer boat applies.


    wivanoff


    Jul 9, 2012, 5:34 PM
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    You guys should add a few more photos and get this thread pinned - as there seems to be a resurgence of interest in anchoring with just the rope. Great information consolidated here in one place. A fine contrast to the multitude of 'lette threads.

    Cracklover: you missed Bearbreaders two methods and tying in with double ropes. Maybe I (or anyone else) can take some photos and post them.


    MFC


    Jul 9, 2012, 6:25 PM
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    I am enjoying this discussion and look forward to more contributions/thoughts.

    Perhaps an easy way for people to transition to using the rope to construct belay anchors is to show them how to use the climbing rope to connect the pro in a webolette/cordalette manner (something most are already used to).

    For instance in a typical 3 piece horizontal set up, using the climbing rope, clove hitch into the left most piece leaving enough slack for later tying into the final masterpoint. Clip the rope into the second (central) piece of pro and leaving sufficient length clove hitch the rope into the third (right most piece).

    Collect the strands between the pieces and tie a master point as when using a cordalette. Connect yourself to this masterpoint with the slack from the first (left most) piece.

    This isn't always the best setup depending on the belay stance/pro but it is just another "tool in your bag."


    bearbreeder


    Jul 9, 2012, 9:26 PM
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    Re: [MFC] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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    ^^^^ my point exactly ... KISS ... many will use the rope as something they do infrequently ... KISSing insures they dont fumble when they are cold, tired, hungry, 15 pitches up in the dark ...

    the belayer can also clove in to the masterpoint should they wish ...

    any decent method should work well enough ... just like cord and slings and even GASP those metolliius 50$ anchor chains ... its all preference


    JimTitt


    Jul 9, 2012, 11:11 PM
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    cracklover wrote:

  • From my understanding of them, all three do an adequate job of dividing the forces between three pieces. All three anchors will, in an average case, put half the force on one of the pieces, and split the remaining load on the other two pieces. None attempt to split the load evenly between all three pieces. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just worth noting.


  • The more traditional method of up to one piece, across to the next, down to the belayer and back up to the third piece (if you are on a single rope) does of course attempt to equalise the force.

  • It could provide significantly better equalization if a load were to come unexpectedly from one side. Both other anchor methods would always feel the entire force on only one piece: the outer piece opposite the direction of load. The fig-8 on a bight plus sliding-x, however, in the same situation, could distribute forces between the middle and outer pieces.


  • You have to appreciate that when the load shifts to one side all the force doesnīt come directly on one piece. The force on outer piece rises as the load angle changes until the connection to the other piece becomes slack, in a 90° included angle setup this is when the load is at 45° to the side for example. While narrow angles are considered desirable for strength reasons they are less forgiving of load angle shift.
    The friction in the sliding X means that it stays as a fixed system until the friction is overcome which for a 90° internal angle anchor you need a load angle shift of about 15° before there is any difference between the two systems. How this load angle change would occur is not clear.

  • If the piece feeling half the load on any of the three anchor methods were to fail, the method incorporating the sliding x would most likely do the best in distributing the load equally between the two remaining pieces, making further cascade failure less likely.


  • However this is a selective case since you decided which piece would fail, if you randomly select a piece to fail you have a 2 in 3 chance the failed sliding X makes the situation worse. Since the objective in building belays is generally not to achieve the optimum solution for one case but to get the best solution for most or all cases then the X is clearly not desirable.

    I donīt understand the reason for building a power-point into the belay, the belayers tie-in/belay loop is the focal point for the loads in multi-pitch trad climbing unless the belay points are of unquestionable strength in which case any methor of tying to them is acceptable. If escapingthe system is nescessary there are other ways of doing this.


    notapplicable


    Jul 10, 2012, 9:58 AM
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    JimTitt wrote:
    cracklover wrote:
    If the piece feeling half the load on any of the three anchor methods were to fail, the method incorporating the sliding x would most likely do the best in distributing the load equally between the two remaining pieces, making further cascade failure less likely

    However this is a selective case since you decided which piece would fail, if you randomly select a piece to fail you have a 2 in 3 chance the failed sliding X makes the situation worse. Since the objective in building belays is generally not to achieve the optimum solution for one case but to get the best solution for most or all cases then the X is clearly not desirable.

    Nothing to add here, just wanted to quote for emphasis. I have personally always felt that using a sliding-X (especially without limiter knots) in the construction of an anchor is more than just undesirable, it's sketchy. Mostly because I think lack of extension in the event of a placement failing is more important than maximizing equalization in an attempt to prevent placement failure.


    JimTitt wrote:
    I donīt understand the reason for building a power-point into the belay, the belayers tie-in/belay loop is the focal point for the loads in multi-pitch trad climbing unless the belay points are of unquestionable strength in which case any methor of tying to them is acceptable. If escapingthe system is nescessary there are other ways of doing this.

    I incorporate a masterpoint in my anchor most of the time so that my attachment to the anchor is easily adjustable without altering the anchors construction. I may, for example, want to be seated while belaying my second and then stand while belaying their lead on the next pitch. All I have to do is adjust a single clove hitch to achieve this.

    I'm not working today, so I will go take some pictures of what I use most frequently as a 3 point gear anchor.

    edited for grammar


    (This post was edited by notapplicable on Jul 10, 2012, 9:59 AM)


    notapplicable


    Jul 10, 2012, 11:25 AM
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    Sorry the pictures are so small. The hammer is the belayer in all pictures and only clove hitches are used to construct the anchors.

    I never liked the bulk and lack of versatility of a cordelett and abandoned it after a few months of use. I mostly used the anchor below during my first 3+ years of climbing. I have no idea if other people use it but I just made it up in the field so I could build with the rope. Major disadvantages are that the middle strands are cumbersome to adjust (it may be hard to see but there is not clove hitch at the middle "gear placement" biner) and it uses more rope



    I think it was about 4 years ago that I saw rgolds rope anchor and made some modifications to my own based on his design. It solves the middle strand adjustability problem and uses less rope but retains the 3 piece masterpoint (advantage over the Bowline plus clove) and still allows the belayer to easily adjust how far from the masterpoint they are anchored (advantage over all three anchors posted so far). It also only uses clove hitches which are very easy to untie after being weighted (advantage over any system that ties overhand or figure-8 knots that will be weighted).

    If anyone is concerned with how the upper basket of the masterpoint locking biner will be weighted in the event of a Factor 2 fall, you can use separate lockers for each clove hitch coming down from the gear placements and clove them together at the bottom with the belayers rope.



    I sometimes use the same system for vertically oriented placements but leave slack in the rope attached to the bottom two pieces so they will end up roughly equalized once fully weighted. Some times I clove in sequence.

    I use the system picture below for two bolt anchors. The lower biner on the right serves as a redirect and something for the second to clove in to while the gear swap is conducted.




    (This post was edited by notapplicable on Jul 10, 2012, 11:39 AM)


    JimTitt


    Jul 10, 2012, 12:49 PM
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    The second one is good to go, thatīs the sort-of usual traditional way to do it but with the powerpoint/adjustable length/escape issue neatly worked out.
    Have a prize!


    Partner rgold


    Jul 10, 2012, 1:06 PM
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    I agree with Jim about the power point; I put it in my diagram mostly so I wouldn't have to argue about it not being there. I rarely tie it.

    But I think Jim must be nearly as out of fashion as I am, because nowadays an awful lot of people are using guide-type ATC's to belay the second off a power point. I do not do this as a matter of course, but sometimes, when there are two followers following simultaneously, I'll go over to the dark side and tie the power point so as to do the guide belay.

    It is true that escaping the belay is easier with a tied power point in place; you'll probably need some extra slings otherwise. Given that the need for such escapes is almost vanishingly small, this really isn't much of an issue.


    climbinANF


    Jul 10, 2012, 1:23 PM
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    Re: [rgold] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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    I don't want to change the course of this thread but was wondering how one would best incorporate a piece for upward pull into one of these anchor schemes? Is it just not necessary?


    Partner rgold


    Jul 10, 2012, 1:58 PM
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    In the Bazillion anchor, take the strand hanging off the last-clipped piece, clove it back to the power point, and then run it down and clove it to the upward directional.


    notapplicable


    Jul 10, 2012, 8:25 PM
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    Re: [JimTitt] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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    JimTitt wrote:
    The second one is good to go, thatīs the sort-of usual traditional way to do it but with the powerpoint/adjustable length/escape issue neatly worked out.
    Have a prize!

    WOO!! I'll take the pink giraffe with the funny hat!


    notapplicable


    Jul 10, 2012, 8:36 PM
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    Re: [rgold] Building anchors with the rope [In reply to]
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    rgold wrote:
    I agree with Jim about the power point; I put it in my diagram mostly so I wouldn't have to argue about it not being there. I rarely tie it.

    Just curious. If you don't usually tie the butterfly knot in that way, how do you incorporate/equalize the left most strand in to the anchor?

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