Over-engineered Anchor

Over-engineered Anchor

This photo of an anonymous urban guerrilla big wall aspirant practicing jugging his rope at Castle Rock State Park was contributed by Brian Kimball.

As Brian notes, the climbing anchor really isn’t likely to fail. It’s just a little busy and over-engineered. What we have here is serial (rather than equalized) redundancy, which is how they rocked it old school Yosemite stylie. The climbing rope is tied to a single anchor point (looks like two double runners basket hitched around a steel pole). Then another length of the climbing rope is tied to a back up anchor (the serial redundancy part), which is another double runner girth hitched around a tree. It’s not going anywhere.

Close up of Over-Engineered Anchor

Close up of Over-Engineered Anchor

But as Brian points out,there’s an “over-engineered backup of the backup (what’s the point of the sling between the caribiners?).”

Good point Brian. I don’t really see that the dyneema sling between the two anchor powerpoints is adding much. It’s just making things busy and eating up extra gear.

Thanks for the submission! Keep ’em coming.

Location: Castle Rock Falls, Castle Rock State Park, California, USA

6 thoughts on “Over-Engineering

  1. Claudia

    Not so sure about the backup anchor. Wouldn’t that girth hitched dyneema sling fail under a shock load? Just thinking back to all the drop tests they did on those… Maybe they put in that second sling in an attempt to minimize the shock? Still, equalized would be better.

    1. Steve Post author

      I don’t think there’s a lot of danger of the back up anchor getting shock loaded (the dynamic properties of the climbing rope would absorb quite a lot of shock). That said, a basket hitch (used on the slings on the other anchor) would be better than a girth hitch.

  2. Dan Africk

    I see many problems with this anchor, but I would not describe it as ‘over-engineered’. It looks like that short sling is a poor attempt to equalize the two anchor points, but not only is it slack, but it’s clipped with a non-locking carabiner on one-end, and the main carabiner would be triaxially loaded if the sling were taught as intended. And the position of that wiregate caught in between the two webbing strands makes me cringe..

    There is no master point. Tying one in that long sling (slings?) around the fence post and clipping the short sling to that would be an improvement, but he could have used that same gear (ideally with an another locking carabiner or two) to better use by using a short sling around the fence post, and using a longer sling to make a proper equalized and redundant anchor.

    The girth-hitch around the tree illustrates one of my pet peeves with the common application of this knot- there is an unnecessarily sharp bend, weakening the sling. By switching around the ends of that sling (so that the working end in the photo becomes the ‘basket’ and vice versa), and carefully positioning the hitch, you can eliminate the sharp bend almost entirely. This would also form a much smaller angle between the two anchor points. Note that there are some times you want a bit of an angle to keep the sling from sliding up or down the tree, but in this example that would not be a concern.

    I also can’t tell if he has two carabiners clipped to the main point on the rope, or just one. Finally, I wonder if the concrete block that the fence post is bolted to is attached to the rock at all, or just resting on it? And what is the other end of the fence is attached to? Might not be as bomber as it looks at first glance, which would make equalization all the more important..


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