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Weighting the Belay Anchor and Repositioning
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dredsovrn


Nov 21, 2003, 10:08 AM
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Weighting the Belay Anchor and Repositioning
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I am a little new to multi pitch. It seems to me that it may often be necessary to rework the belay anchor when the second takes over and the leader moves on from the belay.

When belaying the second, the anchor is set up for a downward force, and the belayer is positioned to look down (maybe even sitting). When the second takes over, the direction of force may be up or down and the belayer will be looking up and likely standing.

Assuming you are using three placements, do you replace one for up and make sure the other are set for down? If you are going to be in a different position than the previous belayer, do you rework the cordellette/anchor so that you are weighting the anchor (to reduce shock load)?


climbingbum


Nov 21, 2003, 10:18 AM
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If possible you should have a multidirectional anchor to start.


maculated


Nov 21, 2003, 10:30 AM
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Interesting that you reconfigure your belays for belaying second and leader. You'll find your climbs will go faster if you find the optimum belay for both. ESPECIALLY if you guys are switching leads.

Ideally, setting up an anchor is omnidirectional. Certainly there have been times when this isn't always a possibility, but at that point, you make sure your pieces off the deck are omnidirectional (cams or opposed nuts).


dredsovrn


Nov 21, 2003, 10:33 AM
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In reply to:
If possible you should have a multidirectional anchor to start.

Just to clarify, you are saying the leader should already have the anchor set up as multi directional so that the follower (assuming you are not swinging leads) can just adjust their tie in? In this case, I assume it makes sense to set you belay anchors high at the stance so that the second can stand without having to change the anchors.

The reason I ask is that if the leader set the anchor 2 feet off the ledge because they would be sitting, and the follower stands, those anchors may now be positioned for upward force only, or at least need to be repositioned to account for the different stance. I am assuming a relatively small ledge. A big ledge gives you a lot more position options.


dredsovrn


Nov 21, 2003, 10:45 AM
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Interesting that you reconfigure your belays for belaying second and leader. You'll find your climbs will go faster if you find the optimum belay for both. ESPECIALLY if you guys are switching leads.

Ideally, setting up an anchor is omnidirectional. Certainly there have been times when this isn't always a possibility, but at that point, you make sure your pieces off the deck are omnidirectional (cams or opposed nuts).

Again, I am new to multi pitch, so I have not yet reconfigured any belay. I haven't swapped leads yet as I am not yet leading. More of a what if. It makes sense that it should be set up that way in advance, but I was belaying (as a second) last weekend and found myself in a somewhat odd and uncomfortable position based on the direction the leader went.

I was belaying off my harness and tied into the anchor, but due to the length of the cordelette I was unable to weight the anchor without moving to an even more odd position or retying it. I considered clipping in short with a sling to the best piece, but thought that would defeat the purpose of the equalization, so I did not.

It just made me feel like I needed to be more competent with anchors for the future. I have done a lot of reading, set up top ropes, and set ups for practice from the ground, etc... As you know, you can't always find what you need further up. I just want to make sure I am doing as the best way possible.


Partner cracklover


Nov 21, 2003, 11:05 AM
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I was belaying (as a second) last weekend and found myself in a somewhat odd and uncomfortable position based on the direction the leader went.

I was belaying off my harness and tied into the anchor, but due to the length of the cordelette I was unable to weight the anchor without moving to an even more odd position or retying it.

I've got two big issues with your post. First this one... Never mind the direction of force for the moment. I don't understand how the above could happen. Was your anchor below you? What was the postion of your leader as (s)he brought you up to the belay? If your leader was weighting the anchor, why couldn't you do the same?

Now direction of force... As a general rule, anchors are not omni-directional in real life. Sometimes you could set one that was, but why bother? The purpose of an anchor is to be able to catch each of these three falls: Second, Leader above*, Leader below. When you get to your belay position, you should be able to analyze the direction of force for each of these falls, and set your anchor up accordingly. All three of these may, depending on the situation, put a different direction of force on the anchor. However, I've never seen a situation (yet) where an anchor could be configured to handle some of the three, but not all three at once.

GO

* In many cases, a leader fall above should put no weight at all on the anchor. Therefore, depending upon the situation, this force may be discounted.


dredsovrn


Nov 21, 2003, 11:19 AM
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I've got two big issues with your post. First this one... Never mind the direction of force for the moment. I don't understand how the above could happen. Was your anchor below you? What was the postion of your leader as (s)he brought you up to the belay? If your leader was weighting the anchor, why couldn't you do the same?

Now direction of force... As a general rule, anchors are *not* omni-directional in real life. Sometimes you could set one that was, but why bother? The purpose of an anchor is to be able to catch each of these three falls: Second, Leader above, Leader below. When you get to your belay position, you should be able to analyze the direction of force for each of these falls, and set your anchor up accordingly. All three of these may, depending on the situation, put a different direction of force on the anchor. However, I've never seen a situation (yet) where an anchor could be configured to handle some of the three, but not all three at once.

GO

By the way, I like the "GO." I may be over analyzing this, but here we go. The leader was sitting on a ledge (about 1-1.5' wide) while I came up. I belayed from a standing position so that I could see the leader (the route went up 5' then traversed right 10' before going up again). This put the anchor below my waist by about 6 inches. As the ledge was not wide, and I was not sitting, There was slack in the cord between myself and the anchor. I suppose I could of leaned out in a semi hanging position to weight the anchor, but thought I would be more stable belaying while standing.

Thinking about it later, I wondered if I should have reworked the anchor altogether so that I could weight it from my position. Additionally, because of the traverse, the direction of force on the anchor and myself would have been sidways (maybe there should have been some pro between before beginning the traverse, but I wasn't leading). I did my best to position myself, and did reposition one of the cams to account for this. It just seemed less than ideal. Maybe that is just the way it works sometimes, but I thought it worthy of wider discussion.


ricardol


Nov 21, 2003, 11:20 AM
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.. there are some great book on belay anchors .. 2 of them come to mind

"Climbing Anchors"

"More Climbign Anchors"

.. ideally you want to always setup your anchors to take upward and downward pulls ..

.. ideally you dont reconfigure the anchor after it has been set ..

... you should definately weight your anchor as you belay, this gve you the advantage of not shock loading the anchor when the second (or leader) falls .. plus i find that weighting the anchor makes it comfortable on non-ledge belays ..

.. i think that once you get some experience under your belt, all these issues will become clear.

-- ricardo


brianc


Nov 21, 2003, 11:28 AM
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It at least sounds like your leader built the belay to match his stance (in this case sitting) instead of buliding a "regular" anchor and adjusting his tie-in to match his stance (sitting).

Could well be that he built the belay in the only way possible - nothing higher to throw gear into. In this case probably better for you to just sit like he did.

Generally speaking though, you should adjust your tie-in to your preferred stance rather than adjusting the belay.


Partner cracklover


Nov 21, 2003, 11:39 AM
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In reply to:
In reply to:

I've got two big issues with your post. First this one... Never mind the direction of force for the moment. I don't understand how the above could happen. Was your anchor below you? What was the postion of your leader as (s)he brought you up to the belay? If your leader was weighting the anchor, why couldn't you do the same?

Now direction of force... As a general rule, anchors are *not* omni-directional in real life. Sometimes you could set one that was, but why bother? The purpose of an anchor is to be able to catch each of these three falls: Second, Leader above, Leader below. When you get to your belay position, you should be able to analyze the direction of force for each of these falls, and set your anchor up accordingly. All three of these may, depending on the situation, put a different direction of force on the anchor. However, I've never seen a situation (yet) where an anchor could be configured to handle some of the three, but not all three at once.

GO

By the way, I like the "GO." I may be over analyzing this, but here we go. The leader was sitting on a ledge (about 1-1.5' wide) while I came up. I belayed from a standing position so that I could see the leader (the route went up 5' then traversed right 10' before going up again). This put the anchor below my waist by about 6 inches. As the ledge was not wide, and I was not sitting, There was slack in the cord between myself and the anchor. I suppose I could of leaned out in a semi hanging position to weight the anchor, but thought I would be more stable belaying while standing.

Thinking about it later, I wondered if I should have reworked the anchor altogether so that I could weight it from my position. Additionally, because of the traverse, the direction of force on the anchor and myself would have been sidways (maybe there should have been some pro between before beginning the traverse, but I wasn't leading). I did my best to position myself, and did reposition one of the cams to account for this. It just seemed less than ideal. Maybe that is just the way it works sometimes, but I thought it worthy of wider discussion.

Thanks, that helps. The problem is clear as day, now. The anchor was not set up correctly for you to be able to use it. This could have been either because the leader was confident (s)he wouldn't fall on the next pitch, because nothing better was available given the protection options, or because he just didn't think about it. Next time this happens, grill him on it before he leaves the belay. At the least, it's an opportunity to learn more about anchor building, and at the most, you might even catch and fix an unsafe situation before it unfolds.

At any rate, I've never seen a belay that was set correctly the first time and needed to be re-configured at the changeover.

Cheers!

GO

PS - my intials are G.O.


sfclimber


Nov 21, 2003, 12:07 PM
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.. there are some great book on belay anchors .. 2 of them come to mind

"Climbing Anchors"
"More Climbign Anchors"

-- ricardo

These are indeed both fine books. And, in them you will see another alternative that, depending on the available placements, could well have solved your problem. Specifically, using a self equalizing setup (e.g. sliding 'x') such that you could have repositioned yourself and still kept the weight on the anchor as the power point naturally adjusted itself to your new position.


dredsovrn


Nov 21, 2003, 12:15 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
.. there are some great book on belay anchors .. 2 of them come to mind

"Climbing Anchors"
"More Climbign Anchors"

-- ricardo

These are indeed both fine books. And, in them you will see another alternative that, depending on the available placements, could well have solved your problem. Specifically, using a self equalizing setup (e.g. sliding 'x') such that you could have repositioned yourself and still kept the weight on the anchor as the power point naturally adjusted itself to your new position.

I am familiar with the sliding X and thought of that after the leader was in mid climb. I thought it better to deal with what I had, since there wasn't a good place to stop until he topped out. I also thought I could have quickly tied an equalizing figure eight close to my tie in and clipped into the anchor with that, but not until later that night. All of these would require some rework of the anchor (at least the tie in) which is one of the reasons I am asking if this is a common situation.

I know how to do a lot of these things, but apparently lack the experience to think of them at the right time. In the future, I will think through the anchor for a little longer before the leader moves on.


Partner cracklover


Nov 21, 2003, 12:48 PM
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Don't beat yourself up, dresdovrn. Brianc is right. Your leader built the anchor too low. If you're standing and the anchor is below your waist, it doesn't matter if you use cordelette, your rope, a sliding-x, or Mother Theresa's girdle - the anchor is still in the wrong place. Your only choices are to move the anchor, or suck it up and sit/hang uncomfortably. Sounds like you chose the latter (probably what I would do too in your position), but you're right to wonder about the former.

GO


tedc


Nov 21, 2003, 12:50 PM
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Assuming that the leader could have built a better (higher) anchor to accomodate your ability to belay him/her, he/she should have. It was thier a** on the line. Assuming that there were no better anchoring options (higher), you just deal. Assuming it is a good piece, there would be nothing wrong with you adjusting your position by tying in to a higher piece; just stay backed up to the "power point".


Partner cracklover


Nov 21, 2003, 1:20 PM
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Assuming it is a good piece, there would be nothing wrong with you adjusting your position by tying in to a higher piece; just stay backed up to the "power point".

Except that this would remove both the equalization and the non-extedability from the anchor. Suck it up and hang, unless not being able to see the leader is a bigger risk on the pitch than having a non-equalized, shock-loading anchor.

Sorry to say so, but often anchor-building on trad climbs is all about compromises.

GO


piton


Nov 21, 2003, 1:41 PM
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Now direction of force... As a general rule, anchors are not omni-directional in real life. Sometimes you could set one that was, but why bother? The purpose of an anchor is to be able to catch each of these three falls: Second, Leader above*, Leader below.

on multi pitch it's sometimes good to have a piece for an upward pull on the belayer.

also the anchor should be weighted at all times to avoid high impact forces!

imo i really think that the anchor should be your last resort to catch a fall. place directionals when you can.


skiorclimb


Nov 21, 2003, 1:53 PM
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Hanging belays can be down right comfy! Just because there is a ledge near your belay don't feel obliged to use it if it dosn't make things better. You may have tied in with a clove hitch, backed up with an eight, and sat back in comfort. I would have also belayed trough a directional at the power point. I think you will also find that seeing the leader climb is a luxury that you are often deprived of on multi pitch routes.


Partner cracklover


Nov 21, 2003, 2:19 PM
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One last note.
In reply to:
I belayed from a standing position so that I could see the leader (the route went up 5' then traversed right 10' before going up again).
You go on to mention that your leader did not place any pro on those five feet straight up.

In this situation, you'd better be d@mn sure that left-most piece on the anchor is bomber (towards a left/upwards pull) - otherwise if the leader had taken a hard fall, that one piece would have been cleaned right out of it's placement, especially since you weren't hanging from the anchor.

In addition, it'd be useful (if the leader can't get gear on that 5' up) for the leader to set the anchor with a crossed sling on the left and middle piece, so even if the belayer gets pulled to the right, those two pieces are still equalized.

GO


dredsovrn


Nov 21, 2003, 2:26 PM
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In reply to:
One last note.
In reply to:
I belayed from a standing position so that I could see the leader (the route went up 5' then traversed right 10' before going up again).
You go on to mention that your leader did not place any pro on those five feet straight up.

In this situation, you'd better be d@mn sure that left-most piece on the anchor is bomber (towards a left/upwards pull) - otherwise if the leader had taken a hard fall, that one piece would have been cleaned right out of it's placement, especially since you weren't hanging from the anchor.

In addition, it'd be useful (if the leader can't get gear on that 5' up) for the leader to set the anchor with a crossed sling on the left and middle piece, so even if the belayer gets pulled to the right, those two pieces are still equalized.

GO

The left most piece and the one on the right were nuts slotted the left that would hold if the force came from the right or down. The cam I repositioned was placed for downward primarily and I adjusted it to be better prepared for right/downward.


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