Building anchors quickly and without extra gear is a skill that will allow you to move fast on approaches, descents, and while leading. If you don’t carry extra anchor-specific gear on your harness, you will be able to hike and climb faster. And if your anchor is clean and simple, you’ll be able to transition faster at the belay. In this video, Blake Herrington and Jens Holsten put in a 20-mile and 25-pitch day, without bringing a cordellete, bulk webbing, or more than a few lockers each. Here’s how:
- If you can learn about the routes ahead of time, remember a key bomber gear piece or two which fits in each belay. Save those pieces on the back of your harness while leading, and fire them in quickly while belaying.
- For belays which feature bomber fixed anchors (a tree, bolts, or in-situ pitons or nuts) simply clove hitch yourself in quickly, and call “off belay”. For 99% of 2-bolt anchors, simply clove hitch to both bolts using single wiregates (if you’re flipping leads) or clip both bolts with wiregates, connect these with a sling, pull the base of the sling down and tie it off into an overhand-on-a-bight, and clip this powerpoint with a keynose locker.
- Place anchor pieces higher up off the belay stance than you’d first assume. This keeps the powerpoint high and gives the next pitch leader a good high piece of protection to clip as they begin.
- For gear anchors built in an up-and-down orientation along a vertical crack or flake, remember that your powerpoint will be lower than the lowest piece. Easily connect a few pieces in a vertical orientation by using a 120mm dyneema runner hanging along the line of gear, with overhand knots tied in the sling just above where each piece is clipped in. You’ll never achieve perfect equalization so don’t worry about getting the knots perfectly positioned.
- Many side-to-side oriented 3 or 4 piece anchors really just have 2 “arms”, with gear out to the left, and gear out to the right. Connect the pieces of either “arm” by whatever clip-in point achieves loose equalization (cam thumb loops, an extra short quickdraw, etc). If you don’t have enough sling material to pull down from both arms and tie off a powerpoint (figure 8 or overhand on a bight), simply tie an overhand knot in the sling itself at its lowest point, which effectively creates two separate loops out of one sling. Clip a locker into the bottom of both loops (with the overhand knot inside the locker) to form a fast powerpoint that uses up very little sling material.