Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Figure 2. Extra lockers plus a dash of knot-tying savvy equals safer, faster anchors on long sport routes.
Head over heels — streamlining anchors on multi-pitch sport routes
You’ve just led the dreaded 10th pitch of El Potrero’s 5.10 dream route Yankee Clipper. Your forearms are blasted, you haven’t drunk any water in two pitches, and the sun has turned your hands into swollen meat hooks. Several stout pitches loom above, and below is an airy reminder of how high you are. Use these anchor pointers, however, and you’ll be standing on the summit before dark. Note: Be sure to use the bolt hangers, not the chains or rap gear, for the following anchor configuration. Also, you should not use a Grigri with this set-up, as the locking mechanism can fail if sucked up against the quickdraw. Learn the dog. The Dog-Eared Bowline is twice the knot for your buck — the two loops can be clipped off independently, and if one ear is severed, the other still bears weight. Take a three- to four-foot length of rope and fold it in half. Start at the doubled end of the rope and make a loop in a clockwise direction. Insert the end (part A) through the loop, but only pull it halfway through. (The remaining rope that does not get pulled through is part B.) Reach your hand through part A and grab part B. Flip part A over the entire knot, pull it tight, and dress and tidy the knot. Longer “ears” of eight to 10 inches are better than short ones, as they place less sideways force on the bolts (figure 1). Use the dog. Knot in hand, clip each ear into the two lockers that you’ll place on the belay bolts; you now have an equalized anchor, with a large loop of slack extending from your climbing knot to the Dog-Eared Bowline. Clove hitch into this slack with a third locking biner (clipped to your harness) to fine-tune your distance from the anchor. Clip a quickdraw to one of the bolts, pull up the remaining slack, and redirect the belay through the quickdraw. Stack the rope on the line tethering you to the anchor. Your partner can lead through as soon as she arrives at the belay (figure 2).