Learning how to build an “anchor in-series” will not only give you a solid option for bad rock, but also offers numerous solutions if you run into any other tricky anchor scenarios.
Rock Climbing Knots
Unlike the butterfly, this method doesn’t require using an extra locking carabiner, and it relies on a basic technique that most climbers employ regularly. You simply girth-hitch yourself into the rope.
The shadows are growing long across the desert as you rappel off the neo-classic Birdland (5.7+) in Red Rock, Nevada, after a successful ascent. In your haste to beat darkness (and avoid the resulting expensive ticket at the park gate), you forgot to grab the rack off the ledge before you started the rappel. Midway down the rappel, you realize your blunder. What to do? Time to go back up—and fast!
Climbing is dangerous. And that's part of the fun, isn't it? We learn many standard steps to manage risk and prevent bad things from happening: Double-check knots! Pack a headlamp! Back everything up! But someday the shit may hit the fan, and you’ll be faced with a scary and dangerous situation. Do you have the skills to get yourself and your partner back alive?
This is the preferred knot for tying into the middle of a climbing rope, as you’d do on a three-person rope team. (Clip into the loop with a locking carabiner.) This knot is also great for rappelling when your ropes are too short. (See Climbing's November issue, no. 310, for more on rappelling on too-short ropes.
The knot I use to tie together two ropes for a rappel—and one we commonly use in guides’ training at the AMGA—is the flat overhand. This knot has been called a number of things (including the Euro death knot) and has at times been unfairly demonized.
Rockfall happens, and sometimes ropes get chopped. If you're 1,000 feet up a route with one rope that's badly damaged, there's a trick you can use to keep doing full-length, double-rope rappels. It's sometimes called the Reepschnur rappel—I have no idea what that means, but I know from experience that it works.
A friction-hitch is popular among climbers who desire maximum control and safety while rappelling. The most common back-up is to link a harness leg loop to the rope with a prusik hitch. Your brake hand holds the friction hitch to keep it from locking while you rap, but in the case of lost grip, the knot will lock, keeping you from sliding down the rope.
Of all the tools in my climbing and guiding toolbox, the Munter Hitch is one of three I rely on the most: it’s fast, requires little gear, and is multifunctional. It should be second nature to all climbers.