Wednesday 20 August 2008

How to make a top-rope anchor, Earth Treks style

OK I'm back-dating this one. Before we left Baltimore I did the Earth Treks top-rope course, which was excellent. It was basically a full day of tying top ropes, and the instructor was a very experienced, knowledgeable climber and moutaineer. He started out by telling us that the double fishie above the figure 8 that American gyms require for harness tie in is useless, it is just for people who don't know how to tie a figure 8.

His method used 100ft (30m) of 10mm static line:
  • Take a bight of rope and tie a quick bowline (see below) around your best anchor, securing with a double fishie (make sure you put it one the right strand of the rope, where the end exits the knot).
  • Use the short(er) tail to tie in to your harness with a figure 8, you are now (reasonably) safe.
  • Tie a big friendly knot (see below) as your focal point and position over the climb by clipping your rope/backpack or something else heavy to two screw gates. Try and get the rope to hang off the rock in a hollow or in an overhang, so any rubbing happens above the knot.
  • Tie your second anchor point in the same way with a quick bowline and double fishie.
  • Adjust equalisation by holding the circle of rope you made in your bowline and sliding the knot up or down the rope (leave yourself some room!).
  • Done. Note he only used two anchors, but they have to be good ones (like big trees).

Quick Bowline

Very cool way to tie a bowline quickly. Make a loop on the load side of the rope and pull a loop through the circle from the load side of the rope. Pass the other end of the rope through your loop. Hold the load part of the rope with your right hand and slide the knot up with the left - it will sort of flip over and you will get the classic lifejacket look that means you have done it right.

Big Friendly Knot

The instructor uses this instead of a figure 8 because it has redundant strands that mean if part of the rope loop fails, there is another backing it up. Couldn't find this on the internet anywhere under this name so have taken a few photos. Only an overhand is needed, not a figure 8, but you can do one if you want to shorten the rope a little.

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