Been meaning to draw a diagram for the extendible top belay that Matt Perrett taught me for a while, and after last weekend I thought I’d draw up a few of the trad anchors we used at Point Perpendicular as well, just as more material for some of the up-and-coming climbers in the club. All this stuff is reasonably to scale, except for the climber in the second diagram.
First, here’s the anchor we used to top-rope the grade 10 corner at Crocodile Head, Point Perpendicular. It was rigged with old 9mm static.
- The main worry is if the boulder moves. It was large refrigerator sized, had lots of contact with the rock underneath it and bedded pretty well with the boulders on either side. I had to poke the rope around the back of the boulder using a stick. Boulder belay anchors have rolled off the tops of cliffs before, taking climbers with them, but it’s extremely rare.
- The tree was a bit spindly with soft bark, but was alive, a fair way back from the cliff, and had large roots bedded in the soil. Often with trees I reckon their strength comes from the deadman action of the roots in the soil – i.e. the tree would uproot before it snaps.
- As the corner hangs out over the ledge at the bottom, we tried putting in some pieces as rebelays to stop a) the rope from getting jammed in the crack and b) the climber swinging out into space. The downside of rebelays is they’re complicated to explain to a toproping beginner (they have to clip/unclip a lot of things as they climb, and tension traverse as they’re lowered). Remember to use a separate quickdraw for both sides of the rope to prevent rope-on-rope friction.
- I also put in a cam at the base so the belayer (me) had something to clip into, again to stop them from getting lifted up and swinging out into space, as amusingly happened to Emma and Damon at Nowra a few weeks back.
- For safety as you approach the power point you can clip into the tree line.
This is the anchor Bulti and Simon set up for the grade 17 corner at Crocodile Head, Point Perpendicular.
- Again, boulder moving, rolling off the cliff. This one was tent-sized and less of a worry than the last one.
- Does the power point extend over the edge of the cliff so you can belay from the bottom? Or, if you’re belaying from the top with an autoblock, is it extended too far making for an awkward belay stance?
- There was much more risk of the sling sliding over and off the top of the boulder. Placing a chock between the boulder and the wall lessens the chance of this happening.
- This one is plenty redundant with two separate bits of rigging cord/tape.
- The rebelay off the cam in the crack stops big pendulum. Can’t have those top rope tough guys worried about the swing being too big.
- For safety as you approach the power point, you can clip into the sling or cordelette.
Moving away from Point Perp, here’s the anchors I built on the Mt Piddington classic Joseph when I took Nick up the whole thing a few months ago.
There’s a bolted belay at the end of the first pitch; most people rap from here. I continued up the second pitch, and decided to build an anchor at the last ledge because the rope drag was bad, so the total climb took three pitches.
- I didn’t have a cordelette or slings so I used the climbing rope to build the anchor by clove hitching three good pieces, in two separate crack systems.
- The ledge was huge and I was easily able to take my second’s weight on stance.
- Belaying off the harness can be convenient when the rope drag is really bad.
- When you do belay off the harness, clip your device into both your belay loop and your figure 8 tie-in loop. It stops your spine from being wrenched in two different directions when you second takes tension and transfers weight to the anchor better.
- Again, when you do belay your second off the harness, remember to rig your device upside down! Remember the force comes from below you, so you need to pull your hands up to lock off!
Finally, consider how I belayed off stance at the top of Joseph in the last example. It’s very desirable that you’re able to see your second as they climb from your stance for as much of the pitch as possible. I tied in with a clove hitch on the tree anchor, then had to scramble to and from my stance on the edge of the cliff, to the anchor and back, to adjust it to get the length right. I also belayed off the harness; what if I’d wanted to use a Reverso or Guide in autoblock mode?
Matt Perret showed us a complicated but handy rigging method he used at Mt Buffalo last year, for when the anchor is a long way back from the edge of the cliff.
- By looping the rope through the power point and having your tie-in knot on your harness, you can adjust the length of your tie-in without moving away from the edge.
- By pulling up all the extra rope before you set up the auto-block at the edge of the cliff, you can use it to rescue the second without having to escape the belay if that becomes necessary.
Well, I hope that was helpful and the diagrams reasonably clear! If you want clarification on something please let me know in the comments.