Sunday, December 14, 2014

So many mysteries.

The Dead Tree, anchors in the air, and festive carabiners dangling in the air.

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Leading candidate for worst idea ever: two clove hitches to a carabiner instead of a knot.


  1. Umm, a Clove Hitch is a knot, or well a hitch ...
    The terminating end has a safety backup knot .
    What exactly is your issue with this? Suggest an alternative maybe?
    How about 2 Alpine Butterfly's? Or aFig8 on a bight and a clove hitch? Fig8 & AB?

  2. Simplicity is the first principle of safe anchors. Introducing hardware violates that. A knot around the tree is simple and safe.

    1. Hey John,

      This is my anchor. I'm aware that it's not the prettiest thing in the world. But if you really wanted to help people you could have introduced yourself and said something, instead of using it for filler on your website. Btw it held fine and I'm alive and well.


  3. I gotta agree with John on this, a bowline would be far simpler, safer, and faster. In it's current position this is roughly the same strength, but if the carabiner moves at all it could become cross-loaded and be much weaker than the rope, perhaps even mess with the screwgate.

    There are many worse things on this site though..

  4. This post should be titled 'learn to tie a bowline.' Many people don't know how, after all its a knot with limited applications. It also has potential for being tied incorrectly. If someone is uncomfortable with the knot, I would remind them that a rethreaded figure 8, such as the one they tie in on, works perfectly fine.... It just takes a longer time to tie and its hard to untie after loading. But.... Learn to tie a bowline. I don't think these anchors are unsafe...I find no safety issue with the carabiner. It is perfectly acceptable to connect two pieces of line or sling or webbing with a carabiner. Preferable, in fact, to connecting webbing on webbing. The caveat is that there should be very little possibility of it opening and it shouldn't rest over an edge. And I don't see that being a danger here... It's a locker, in the air, not over an edge. Let's be real here, the chances if it crossloading are small. And if it does crossload, it doesn't pose much of a risk... The forces exerted on a tope rope are small. Your belay carabiner crossloads all the time. That being said, we can all be anal here and agree that a line with more knots is weaker, and a crossloaded carabiner is weaker. Is this a weaker anchor? Yes. But does it cross the threshold of unsafe? No. It is monumentally dumb. I think it is important to be as concise as possible in these matters. There are a few principles that are important to uphold but...'introducing hardware violates that.' That's a statement that is simply not true all the time. New climbers should learn that building anchors is a craft not a science. Meaning, it is situational. It is important to use your own logic for every situation. Let's not introduce any mythological principles even if they are true must of the time. Let's be straight

  5. I've gone from the days of having a few biners, wearing a Swami belt of 1" tubular (when Bill Forrest's Sit Harness replaced that 25' of web I was a happy climber (the Troll harnesses were not available in the US and Don Whillans' 1970 sit harness was a specialty product and well outside my budget). I started climbing in boots, thin canvas & rubber boat tennies, and (then RR's came out, followed by EB's... again, life was good) - over the first 8 years of New England climbing from 64-72 I never had a serious incident or accident. And, the Gunks and I became great friends. I left for college and Colorado and the Tetons. The Front Range, Boulder Canyon, Eldorado Canyon, the park, and the Flatirons were great fun. My hardbound copy of the CMC guide to the Rockies is in great shape (damn shame Pat Ament's High over Boulder was so poorly bound).

    I saved a month's pay to accumulate enough money to buy my first Kernmantle rope (a Mammut 165' 11mm courage-giving piece of safety (see, )) around 1968 (goldmantle and the British #1 hauser-laid ropes were what we had used).

    I took pride in tying off directly to the anchor (or, where there was a fixed pin, one of my five biners were used - often my sole locking biner).

    Aside from the fact that I didn't have much gear, and neither did my buddies, we all carried prusik loops in a pocket and had a second become hung up - I'd attach one to the belay line and clip the other end into the anchor - heave and get the second up inch by inch.

    Hey, with only 5 biners, eventually some soft iron (and then chrome molly) pitons, some webbing and climbing clothing (a/k/a anything tough enough for the Gunks) - water, and summit packs came later.

    What I see on the site is a plethora of gear. More of everything is better and redundancy (something Ed Leeper taught me about - use different types of anchors - if one type fails and you used two of the same type - well you might just see both fail) is not "more" but the wise use of different anchors.

    I cannot see any reason for the biner in this anchor. On the other hand, as a prior comment points out, there is a barrel knot that would lock the clove hitch and the anchor is supposed to be a top-rope anchor - where not much force in excess of a climber's weight (lets say 100kg) could load the system - I doubt that it would fail.

    I'd never tie in like this and if I was going to spend any length of time top-belaying a slew of novices up a 5.6/5.7 route I'd tie a figure eight in the rope about 3 meters from the standing end and loop the tree three times and follow the figure eight back through and add a half-hitch. If for no other reason than the novices could see a belt-and-suspenders anchor to a live tree (three loops are less likley to saw through the bark and do damage to the living part of the tree - the vascular cambia). If I was going to self belay or rappel a short section I'd still use three wraps, and a bowline backed up by a double barrel.

    Simplicity, redundancy, common sense - they are concepts to live by. The more stuff that you use means that there is more stuff present to fail and more ways for a failure to occur. KISS