Unbelayvable: The Large Man Anchor

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Rock Climbing Anchor Joshua Tree National Park

Unless you are a literal hippopotamus, build an anchor when belaying from above. Photo: Joshua Tree National Park/Flickr

I was climbing at a crag with lots of toprope routes. There’s a viewing platform at the top. We were hanging out on the platform after we finished our route. Another climber topped out next to us. He set up a belay on his harness for his partner and called down for his partner to climb. He was not anchored to anything. I was shocked and asked why. He shrugged and said he wasn’t worried because he outweighed his climber by 40 pounds.
—Jennifer Wong

LESSON: Always, always, always anchor yourself when working near a cliff edge, especially when you’re belaying someone from above. It doesn’t matter how much you outweigh them. Let’s say you weigh 180 pounds. Do you really think you could catch a falling 140-pound weight without getting a solid jerk in its direction of travel? Even if you did, how long do you think you could stand there holding that much weight off your harness? Don’t trust you and your partner’s lives to your own strength or girth. Use an anchor. Even a good hip belay requires that you brace your feet against something solid.

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