Top-Roping: Extending Anchors

Mikepowers Small

by Michael Powers, IFMGA
AAI Senior Guide & Director for Staff Development


From the September 2006 edition of AAI's E-newsletter

Recently I have run into more than a few anchors in sport routes that were solid, yet placed on ledges that made for a lot of rope drag when top roping. Needless to say, I always want to extend them. Is it appropriate to use a figure-8 on a bight at both ends of one inch webbing to extend the anchor? I have used two pieces of webbing with two opposed locking biners in the lower loops as the master point. I am hesitant to use water knots as they can slip, and require twice the length of webbing. What do you suggest?

Additionally, have you seen anybody using locking biners on the side of a quickdraw where the rope is placed? Thanks!

- Josh Cohen (Phoenix, AZ)


Dear Josh,

I think it's fine to extend the anchors with figure-8s on a bight, although it can take a bit of fidgeting to get the length exactly right and keep the anchors equalized. Another way to do this is to use a cordelette (20-30 feet of 7 mil diameter cord) to extend the anchor. I tie the cordelette into a loop with a double fisherman's knot (with 4-6" tail), and then construct the cordelette into a pre or self-equalized extension using regular biners at the bolts (or individual pro). Then, working downward, I tie an overhand or figure eight knot in the cordelette to make a powerpoint, then clip two locking biners below the knot and run the top rope through them (making sure to lock them, of course).

Regarding your second question: I have seen - and actually use it myself occasionally - a locking biner on the rope-end of a quickdraw. I don't normally do this, but if it's a critical draw (say, the first one on the route with hard moves and a bad landing) and I'm worried about becoming accidentally unclipped, I will take the extra precaution. The locking biner is harder to clip with the rope but it will put my mind at ease regarding the rope staying in the biner in case I fall. I may also do the same on a higher move - on a crux perhaps - but generally speaking, using a locking biner requires too much fussing with the clip and may backfire by requiring you to spend more time at the crux (and thus causing you to get pumped sooner).

- Mike Powers

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