/ Top Rope Anchor Advice

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simon369 - on 11 Jun 2018


I have previously done a fair bit of sport climbing in France but only ever did routes that had the bolts / chain at the top and used to just use quick draws to create my top anchor and then on my final descent used the center ring to come down on.

Now I am back in the UK and plan on starting climbing again but the routes near my don't have the rings and chains but are accessible from the top.

So I am a little unsure on how to do a safe anchor and if its possible to just use slings or if there is a better option. The nearest crag to me had plenty of solid trees on the top which i plan on anchoring from but a lot of them are around 2 - 3 metres from the edge.

Would this example set up be suitable for me. I planned on using 2 slings instead of the 1 red sling and this would ideally get me to the lip of the crag for the final carabiner to hang over.

If this is a suitable set up then am I able to continue on in the same fashion if I need more than the 2 red slings. E.g. Sling round the tree >  Carabiner > 2 Slings > Carabiner > 2 Slings > Carabiner (then rope)

Also, Is my aim to have the Carabiner just over the lip of the crag or is it fine hanging over the edge by some distant if that is what the length of my slings take it to? If not, Is it acceptable to tie a knot in the sling to reduce its length as I know each knot reduces the strength of the sling

Thanks in advance,


Luke90 on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to simon369:

Slings probably aren't the ideal tool for the job. Rope would be more durable and more versatile.

Definitely possible to do it with slings but you'll probably need a lot of them if the trees you're planning to use are several metres back. Any knots you tie will be a sod to undo once you've weighted them a few times.

Even if the trees are big enough to be very solid, you'll probably still want to use a couple of them either side of the position you want the anchor to keep it stable in the right position. A single chain of slings to the edge will move around a lot and potentially wear on the edge. You might also consider taking some old carpet or something to put between the slings and the edge.

Luke90 on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to simon369:

Missed some of your questions...

No, it doesn't really matter how far the anchor hangs over the edge.

Knots are fine. They do reduce the strength of the sling but not to the point where it could conceivably fail unless something else is very wrong.

It does sound like you'd be better off getting somebody to show you some ideas and coach you through it in person for your first try.

Greasy Prusiks on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to simon369:

I'd buy a length of 10mm static rope and use that. There's nothing wrong with using slings but rope will be easier to adjust, quicker to set up and more durable. 

simon369 - on 12 Jun 2018

Thanks for your replys

I have 15m of static, So will use that then.

Is the following example a very solid technique

If i was to sling around a tree and then also sling around a rock or tree either side and connect them all using this technique?

Also ontop of the above example would it be good to tie the end of each sling to double back up each sling incase one have of the sling got cut on the rocks. Or does the fact that I have used 3 different anchor points mean there is no need?

Lastly, Can anybody recommend any good books that goes over the actual anchor / rope side of things more than focusing on climbing technique.






Luke90 on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to simon369:

Yes, your example is fine. If the trees are a decent size and in suitable positions then using three is probably overkill. Two is likely to be fine. Also, that technique has doubled up rope running to two of the trees so you might run out of rope, based on the distances you've estimated to the trees.

"Rock Climbing: Essential Skills and Techniques" by Libby Peter is the recommended book for all of Mountain Training's rock climbing qualifications. It has lots of stuff you won't need but it certainly gives good coverage of how to set up top ropes.

Yes, technically you could add some extra redundancy using knots but if you think there's something sharp enough to cut a sling, in most cases you'd be better off avoiding or padding the sharp thing.

alanblyth - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to simon369:

I bought one of these awhile ago for abseiling, it works really well and is lighter/tidier/cleaner than keeping some old carpet to protect the crag edge and your rope, would recommend.

springfall2008 - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to simon369:

If you find a good live tree of a decent thickness (e.g waist thickness or more) I'd personally say you only need one tree. In that case tie the static rope to the tree (double bowline with stopper knot or rethreaded fig 8) and put a fig 8 on a bite at the other end just over the edge. Then add two screwgates (I'm parnoid) to run the top rope through).

If you need two trees as they are smaller you can use the static rope again and equalise it or long slings depending on their location.



springfall2008 - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to simon369:

Or the lazy way to do it:

Sling around each tree (one or more). Screwgate on the sling. Thread the static rope through each screwgate and equalise with a big fig 8 on a bite.


jkarran - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to simon369:

Rigging off trees is usually fine. Low stretch rope is generally more flexible and robust than slings, loaded knots are also removable unlike those in thin slings.

Pick up a good book or get someone to teach you in person, it's not complicated but you do want to do it right.

Basically you want redundant anchors or one that is unquestionably trustworthy. You want your climbing rope securely attached to those anchors in such a way that it and the rigging doesn't slip or saw back and forth on anything sharp when loaded and so if part of it does rub and fail you don't die. You also need to consider the angles formed by the various bits of your rigging, these can cause extreme force multiplication. You also want to work safely while rigging, dying for a slip or trip would be unfortunate.

Finally some crags have unusual but established ways of doing things to protect the environment or access, the guide or a local should be able to help there.


simon369 - on 13 Jun 2018

Thanks a lot for your advice everyone I think i will be sorted now.



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