Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

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pierre.joubert
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Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby pierre.joubert » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:57 pm

Following from last week's lesson, we start the week with equalising 3 (or more) anchor points to create one bomb-proof anchor with a power point to clip into, belay off/through, haul from, hang your portaledge from, etc.

So bring pics, MS paint drawings, cryptic descriptions and the like. How do you do it?

Nic Le Maitre
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby Nic Le Maitre » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:08 pm

Hi

Buy 7-8m of 6mm cord.

Tie off one end to the anchor on the extreme left (or right, doesn't matter), use a Fig 8 or equivalent.
Take a bight to the next closest point.
Repeat for all but the furthest point.
Tie off the rope to the furthest point (Fig 8 is good).
Take all the loops, put a biner though them all.
Pull the biner in the direction (and angle) that the load will come from.
When all the strands are evenly loaded and in the correct orientation, tie the loops into an overhand knot (don't bother with a Fig-8, because there are so many loops in the knot it will be easy to undo).

And there you are, you have a multipoint equalized anchor. (For those of you who care it is called a BFK)

Will post some pick when I get home, work unfortunately lacks climbing gear.
Happy climbing
Nic

mokganjetsi
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby mokganjetsi » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:11 pm

trango's alpine equaliser is da bomb for belay stances with 3 (or 2) pieces. hassle free and you can't stuff it up. a bit expensive but well worth the money imho. actually surprised that other manufacturers aren't producing the same - it works on basic principles and there will be more than enough demand if the price drops a bit....

http://www.trango.com/slings_webbing/al ... cordalette

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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby Nic Le Maitre » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:26 pm

Hi

The Tango equaliser is cool but it has one serious draw back. If any ONE of the strands fails/is cut/gets hit by a falling rock/etc the whole thing will pull through. You can overcome this by clovehitching the webbing onto each point but that kind of defeats the purpose.

IMO, a snake cord/cordelette is cheaper and more versatile. (If you had to back off a route and needed ab cord, which would you rather cut up, your R100 snake cord or your much more expensive Equalizer?)
Happy climbing
Nic

pierre.joubert
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby pierre.joubert » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:36 pm

Like so:
Image
Alpine equaliser, in default mode, is auto adjusting - i.e. if the direction of pull changes the acnhor will adjust itself to be equalised for the new pull. In this mode however, it looks as if any piece had to fail, the anchor would extend with a possible shock loading. The overhand shown in this pic would prevent this because the knot is too big to pass through the metal rings.

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Hann
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby Hann » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:47 pm

Nic Le Maitre wrote:The Tango equalizer....If any ONE of the strands fails...the whole thing will pull through.....overcome this by clovehitching but that defeats the purpose

...cordelette is cheaper and more versatile...


I agree with Nic on both.

However.

In setting up anchors for more permanent use (Hoisting, toproping, rescue) the cordelette works well.
You need about 8m - 10m for it to be effective.

But when climbing I find it a cumbersome and unnecessary extra piece of gear to carry.

I prefer to use my 2 half ropes, already attached to me, + 1 x sling to fashion a 3 way equalized stance. Although not self equalizing, it is easy to adjust when using clove hitches, and there are no redundancy issues.

Problem with my preferred method is when you are not alternating pitches with your climbing partner.
Because you are effectively part of the stance you have to redo it all if you are leading both pitches. A rather tricky business when in a hanging stance.

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Hann
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby Hann » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:00 pm

Oh,
And Nic's Cord will work for any amount of pieces. 3, 5, 10, whatever. It is only limited by your length of cord.
The trango is limited to 3 points.

In the less is more attitude:
Anything and everything in climbing. Be it a stance, hoisting, jummaring should be possible with a rope, a prussic cord and a screwgate.
I am therefore a great advocate to not rely on ropemans, tiblocs, grigris, trango equilizers or such. But that may just be my purist pain in the arse attitude. :mrgreen:

Personally I think the trango equalizer is a gadget. Similar to those rope organizer loop thingies.

Chalk
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby Chalk » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:03 pm

Setup: I have: a) three ice screws / three wire nuts set and;
b) tie off with a Bow line knot on the to outer placements and;
c) thread the middle placement

I was using a piece of 8mm dynamic rope that I balanced off with an overhand knot.

I had run out of screwgates and was forced to improvise and top-out placement.

Question: is it acceptable to tie directly into the gear (ice screw or cable of a nut (or similar radius)) with a snake cord/ dynema cordelette?

pierre.joubert
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby pierre.joubert » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:14 pm

You're still alive, so I'd guess it doesn't kill eveytime?

Getting back to the extendable-slings-on-cams question - the reason for not having skinny, extendable slings on C4s (from Black Diamond) is that the thumb loop pinches closed when loaded in a fall, and enough fall force could cause the loop to pinch enough to cut the clip-in sling. The C4s have a nice fat wire in that thumb loop (3.5mm?) with a friendly plastic coating making the radius on the thumb loop even bigger.

My guess, and it's just a guess, is that if they are worried enough to change the sling (make it wider) then I'd be worried about using 8mm rope over a nut's wire (2.5mm?). It also makes me think that it may be the pinching effect rather than purely the radius of the connecting piece that causes the issue.

frosty
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby frosty » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:18 pm

Okay so I have a question regarding this and would love some advise.

This is my "normal" stance:
- Place first piece of gear - clip rope 1
- place second piece of gear - clip rope 2
- place thrid piece of gear - attach sling to belay loop and gear
- tie off first two pieces of gear and equalize them seperatley
- shout safe
- pull through
- attach belay device to belay loop
- shout belay on and climb when ready

My concern is that ropes are connect dirrectly to the belay loop, therefore the sling anchor will see the majority of the force in fall as it is connected to the belay loop and therefore the sling. I have taken to bringing the ropes back to the carribner I am belaying from, which is connected to the belay loop, and not using the rope tie into the harness.

Is this good practise? I prefer using ropes to slings as they are easy to adjust and shock load the gear way less!! Also if the seconder then wants to climb through its easy, and more slings can be used for extending pro.

I recon those equalizers are pretty dodge, one sharp rock and its over, I mean why do we place 3 pieces in the first place....

Secondly my overseas friends freak out when making stances soley from gear, they want bolts, whats the norm globally? And even more so on three people hanging belays! :lol:

mokganjetsi
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby mokganjetsi » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:23 pm

Nic Le Maitre wrote:The Tango equaliser is cool but it has one serious draw back. If any ONE of the strands fails/is cut/gets hit by a falling rock/etc the whole thing will pull through.

true, but then it is made of dyneema and i'm not climbing with edward scissorhands.... and the same argument goes if you're climbing on a single rope and it doesn't stop too many people. the odds of failing are extrememly remote & i prefer it for ease of set-up. the most realistic issue is shock load in case 1 piece fails - this could be a problem but the shock will be controlled since you won't fall very far before the other 2 pieces are loaded.

loneranger
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby loneranger » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:46 pm

For those who prefer the Trango "gadget" setup, there is a neat trick you can do exactly the same rig with a piece of cord/rope and carbiner! Will do the rigging when I get home and post pics tommorow. To give you an idea, it is a double loop figure of eight knot with one large loop and one small loop, the large loop gets clipped to all the ancors as with the Trango setup and the attached to the smaller loop with a carabiner (or two for extra safety). But I will post pics tonight or tommorow.

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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby Nic Le Maitre » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:48 pm

Hi

The pictures as promised. Sorry about the quality. Couldn't find batteries for my decent camera.
The anchor rigged, but not equalised
P8230040.JPG
P8230040.JPG (28.36 KiB) Viewed 2487 times

The rigged and equalised anchor
P8230042.JPG
P8230042.JPG (26.8 KiB) Viewed 2487 times


- EDIT:
I forgot to say, I'm not putting the rope directly into the gear, but putting it into quickdraws/biners that are attached to the gear.
Last edited by Nic Le Maitre on Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Happy climbing
Nic

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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby DeanVDM » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:50 pm

Great discussion.

Here are three options I have used. For the sake of the discussion and reference I have named them and I will not discuss them in this post and will post my comments in a separate post.

D1: Static equalisation with a simple piece of rigging rope (untied cordelette) tied into a BFK (big fat knot).
Cordelet 1.JPG
D1: Untied cordelet in an anchor
Cordelet 1.JPG (127.41 KiB) Viewed 2486 times


D2: Dynamically equalisation using a double loop figure of eight. On the left is the first step: tying a double loop figure of eight with a big and a small loop. On the right it is connected to the three anchors (as mentioned by loneranger, Fanta showed this to me first). This can be modified to a statically equalised anchor by tying figures of eight at the 3 top 'biners
Double Loop 1.JPG
D2: Double loop figure of eight in an anchor
Double Loop 1.JPG (146.53 KiB) Viewed 2486 times


D3: Static equalisation using an alpine butterfly to create a bight in the rope / cordelet. The inset shows the first step that has a single alpine butterfly to add one extra piece (Fanta showed this to me too)
AlpineB 4.JPG
D3: Apline butterflies in an anchor
AlpineB 4.JPG (116.03 KiB) Viewed 2486 times


Several variations of the above are possible depending on the soft conncetion and the way you tie them off or (k)not.

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Hann
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby Hann » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:10 pm

DeanVDM is obviously well educated in knots.
I applaud.
As a good friend said: "A knowledge of knots weights nothing"

The systems shown are good for self equalization and VERY handy if the Focal point may alter while the system is in use.
But all expect D1 has the same inherent weak-point as the Tango equalizer:
- If one point fails, the rest of the system gets shock-loaded and the BFK ends at an unpredictable place/angle.
- It is also possible for the whole system to fail should one stand be cut (it happened to AdK on one of his adventures, and a girl died at Muizenberg a few years ago of ropes being cut on rock)
- To continue the rope-cutting point: WE TESTED A 11mm STATIC UNDER TENTION AND WE WERE ABLE TO CUT THE ROPE WITH THE SIDE OF A BRICK, A NORMAL HOUSE BUILDING BRICK.
- As with the Tango equalizer the solution is to tie clove hitches at each of the pieces of pro, or to knot the middle line. This then makes the self equilizer redundant.

The Pic as shown by Nic and D1 of Dean's photos are easy to set up, can be used with an unlimited number of ancors, have no redundancy issues.

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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby loneranger » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:26 pm

Thanks Dean! D2 is the one. No nead for my photos anymore! :thumleft:

Nothing more to add about the draw backs, Hann said it.

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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby mokganjetsi » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:43 pm

Hann wrote:WE TESTED A 11mm STATIC UNDER TENTION AND WE WERE ABLE TO CUT THE ROPE WITH THE SIDE OF A BRICK, A NORMAL HOUSE BUILDING BRICK.

YIKES!!! :o

from the Trango R&D dude (Jim Cormier) re: shockloading
"I am glad to see some people are finally catching on to some real fun physics.
Cordellettes are fine if the direction of force never changes. If it does you are now only weighing one piece and if it blows you will shock load the rest of the anchors and it would be damn near impossible for the remaining anchors to be loaded equally and simultaniously. The Alpine Equalizer is designed to be used with 1, 2, or 3 piece anchors (you can get creative and add more). If a piece blows it self equalizes and the movement through the remaining pieces causes extension and also absorbs some of the impact as it extends. Another added feature is it is less prone to human error (mis tied knots, open carabiner gates) and it saves weight and bulk.
Of course I am somewhat biased as I did the R and D for this for 6 six years. I personally pull tested samples rigged with 3 points and took them to over 9000 LBS (5/8" spectra with SMC aluminum rappel rings. In all my tests with Self Equalizing Anchors I have never seen one blow additional pieces while extending, and I even did a 8 point anchor and cut away one at a time all the way down to 2 with a 1200 LB load. (That was tied with a 10mm climbing rope) I have been using many versions of this since 1994."

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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby hugov » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:58 pm

Hi

There are some scary ideas out there. Always use 'biners to attach the ropes or yourself to anchors.

Dyneema (or any other static sling) does not absorb any force through extension, so Nick's proposal softens the blow of your fall on the anchors better. This is a good thing, abeit not very noticeable if there is a low fall factor on the rope. It is however, very important for ice anchors, where you want to be very gentle indeed. In any case, you should belay off your harness strong point to protect the anchors even more buy adding your (considerable) inertia to the system.

Trying off is important, because if the one anchor fails, the others will take a large impact when the system eventually tightens.

In general, you want to use the cordelette, not a sling, and particularly not a dyneema sling. If dyneema runs over something, it melts. The slippage that happens when a knot in the sling tightens can be enough to burn a dyneema sling. Of course, the system from Trango (or other manufacturers) has been designed to cope with this by not having knots, but this is a "don't build this at home" scenario.

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Hann
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby Hann » Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:16 am

Thumbs up to the contributers of this and to the "Loading a BD Camalot over an edge" topics.

Informative and mature. :thumleft:

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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby klimkop » Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:33 am

What's the next topic? Im interested in some pulley systems for rescue or hoisting.
Since I started climbing I developed a big crack addiction.

Larry Thomas
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby Larry Thomas » Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:35 am

Nobody has mentioned the "Equalette".

I don't have any pictures at the moment, maybe somebody does.

pierre.joubert
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby pierre.joubert » Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:14 am

hugov wrote:In general, you want to use the cordelette, not a sling, and particularly not a dyneema sling. If dyneema runs over something, it melts. The slippage that happens when a knot in the sling tightens can be enough to burn a dyneema sling. Of course, the system from Trango (or other manufacturers) has been designed to cope with this by not having knots, but this is a "don't build this at home" scenario.


Just to be clear, by cordalette above, you mean accessory cord/nylon/perlon/polymaide/the round stuff right?
This:Image

Dyneema is the modern light/thin/flat/8-10mm wide slings, often used for trad draws...
Image

Interesting stuff about the different materials used for cordalettes: http://www.mountaineers.org/seattle/climbing/Reference/Cordelette.html
The above guys confirm that Polyethylene/Dyneema® is probably not the way to go, mainly because of the alarming strength loss of repeated flex (up to 40%) and strength loss due to knotting (again, up to 40%) not leaving much over for you and 2 mates at a stance. The meling point is also rather low, at 147C, so friction generating heat quickly becomes an issue.

Old school nylon/polymide has the advantages of being cheaper (to abandon on the mountain), less prone to strength loss due to knotting and flexing and slightly less prone to UV damage.

Read this: http://www.xmission.com/~tmoyer/testing/High_Strength_Cord.pdf

I have a cordalette tied of Mammut Pro Cord http://acmeclimbing.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1558 which is a kind of polymide (i.e. nylon) woven into a cord, but where the sheath and core are basically the same structure. Accessory cord with more strength, if you like. 7mm = 12.5kN (nylon 7mm ~ 9kN) without the flex/knot strength loss of Dyneema.
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Mammut Pro Cord 7mm
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gollum
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby gollum » Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:21 am

When climbing in a team of two and alternating leads (which me and my partner always do), we usually use the climbing rope like Hann mentioned. This works best with double ropes, but we mostly climb on single rope and then our setup is as follows:

climbing_rope_anchor.jpg
climbing_rope_anchor.jpg (28.79 KiB) Viewed 2376 times


The two figure of eight knots are the master/focal point, and by adjusting the clove hitches you can achieve good equalisation (the redundant rope feeds rope to the hitches for adjustment). The belayer can use a piece of the redundant rope between him and anchor A to clip into the master point.

This setup is not auto equalising, but works well in most cases. Also, the anchor arms are now dynamic, so the arms have to be the same length. Otherwise the long arms will transfer very little load to their anchors while short arms will transfer more load to their anchors. To achieve equal arm length you can simply extend your arms with low-stretch material (dyneema is best, otherwise nylon slings).

And, like Hann said, you carry no extra bulky cordelette on the climb. However, if in a pinch for ab cord you now have to start cutting off the end off your rope, where you could have sacrificed a cordelette :shock:
Last edited by gollum on Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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BruceT
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby BruceT » Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:25 am

thanks to all those who took the time to add to this thread - lekker stuff and fun!
To add a bit: (No expert but I self belay a lot on a shunt and so have built many anchors...)
1. every situation is different, so learn why the above methods work and their pros and cons, so you can make an informed choice in the field. That said, I use Dean's D1 80% of the time.
2. I think it was John Long in one of his anchor books (very informative BTW) who said that most climbers go through their whole climbing lives without ever severely weighing an anchor (ie taking a factor two fall). So, as a consequence we never really "test" anchors - after all any old anchor will work if you never weigh it! So NEVER skip building a proper anchor, listen to those who have tested anchors experimentally or by catching a factor two fall - would be cool to have some stories on that - maybe in the epic thread?
3. Keep it simple - eg. I have tried the equalette system mentioned (I think its in one of the Long books) which is v cool, but can never remember how to do it from 1 week to the next, but thats just me..
LCD SCUM

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Hann
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby Hann » Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:35 am

Gollum,

In you sketch:
I assume you are belaying straight off the BFK focal point and not from the Belay Loop.
- Should Point A fail the belayer may shock-load points B and C with a Factor 1 force.
- This may cause the belayer to let go of the belay rope, which may have fatal consequence for the climber.
- I would suggest you also tie the belayer to the BFK focal point too.

As an alternative:
Should you belay straight from the belay loop, and redirect the live end (rope going to the climber) via the BFK.
- Should Point A fail, the belayer will the effectively have to catch himself using the climber as counterweight to prevent a Factor 1 fall.
- Depending on the slack at the belayer, you will still shock load points B and C.
- And probably have some explaining to do once the climber reaches the stance.
- I would still suggest the belayer tie into the BFK too.

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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby gollum » Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:45 am

@Hann: Sorry, I omitted this from my sketch. However I did include it in the text :?

The belayer must tie into the BFK using the piece of redundant rope between him and anchor A. He then belays directly off the BFK.
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby lelikegogga » Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:09 am

@Gollum: I sometimes use a slight variation to your way. Where the rope running from the belayer to anchor point A is not redundant, but the tension point. One less loop of rope to be part of the BFK.
climbing_rope_anchor_var.png
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Wayne73
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby Wayne73 » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:26 pm

Question? Set up as per Gollum except use clove hitches to connect myself to the system via a locking beaner on my belay loop instead of a BFK. Is this safe or am I gonna die?
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lelikegogga
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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby lelikegogga » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:55 pm

@Wayne73: I do this many times too.
In fact.. use loops through the anchor points and clove hitches on a biner or two on my harness when the anchor points are far away. Then I don't need to get up from my comfy belay spot to equalise the system.

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Re: Equalising a 3 (or more) anchor points

Postby Nic Le Maitre » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:36 pm

klimkop wrote:What's the next topic? Im interested in some pulley systems for rescue or hoisting.


Hi

There are a bunch of useful self rescue techniques involving pulley systems etc. They are difficult to explain diagrammatically and in words. They really should be demonstrated. The best place to learn them is to do a trad course or join a mountain rescue team (if you want to join a mountain rescue team, pm me).
Happy climbing
Nic


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