Sunday, October 16, 2011

Crazy Anchor Setup at Rock Land (Cabrillo)

Anchors - What not to do: I was out at Rock Land (Cabrillo) a few weeks ago and ran across this crazy anchor setup. This is a text book example of what not to do when building an anchor from 2 bolts. When building any anchor you're looking to create a SERENE anchor. SERENE is an acronym that stands for:

S - Strong (or Solid) - The stronger the better.

E - Equalized - Anchors should be constructed so that each component of the anchor carries an equal amount of the load.
R - Redundant - Anchors should consist of multiple components in case one or more components fail

E - Efficient - Anchors should be as simple and timely as possible without giving up any of the other SERENE qualities.

NE - No Extension - Anchors should be built so that if one or more of the components fail the remaining components won't be shock loaded.

Seriously, I did not make this anchor just to use as an example. This guy was top roping his kids on it and telling me about all the climbs he'd done in Yosemite. Guess his partner built all the anchors.

Description: 1" tubular webbing (in a loop with water knot) attached to both bolts with lockers. Typically a good start. Then he clipped 2 quick draws to it (reversed the gates), then added a loop of 6mm cord (with double fisherman's knot), then backed that up with another loop of webbing. And finally, he finished it off with a single locker (gate down) that was set back from the edge about 18". Given the way he set it up, you'd think he ran out of webbing and lockers but he actually more of both with him.

Analysis: The most obvious problem is the lack of redundancy where the quick draws are clipped to the black webbing. The draws are clipped on top of the webbing. No sliding X and no knot. If the webbing failed or either bolt failed (which is rare but does happen), you'd lose the whole thing. The second major problem is the way the master point was set up. It's too far back from the edge (creating wear, rope drag & knocking off little rocks) and it's only got 1 locking carabiner. The carabiner is certainly strong enough but I've seen plenty of lockers that have come unlocked while people are top roping. What happens is the gate often rolls itself open with all the movement you get when top roping. I don't really like the dual quick draws and the 6mm cord isn't perfectly equalized but those things are minor compared to the lack of redundancy and the master point set up.

Solution: If all you had was this to work with, what would you do? Here are a couple ideas I had.

Option #1 - Go Somewhere Else: First of all, if I didn't have the right amount of slings and gear, I probably would have set up a different climb. No reason to risk your life simply because you don't have the right stuff. Go set something else up.
Option #2 - Extend Slings & Master Point: I would probably untie the webbing (if I could get the knots out) and extend it in a single line (Fig. 8 on both ends) then bring the 2 ends together in a redundant master point. If needed, you could add in the loop of 6mm cord to further extend the master point. I would probably replace the locking 'biners on the bolts with one of the non-lockers from the quick draw. Then I would add that locker to the master point so I would have 2 lockers at the master point.

Option #3 - Link Corded Material Together: You might be able to tie all the corded material (the 2 loops of webbing & the 6mm cord) together to create a single cordellete/webolette. Then tie all this together with a redundant master point.