Anchors strength and anchors safety

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Strength and safety are the two parameter that together make a good anchor. These two traits play important patrs in setting a belay and when equalizing pieces of protection to make a complex anchor.

Anchor strength

Ancor strength refers to the maximum load the anchor can take without breaking. Anchor strength is never an absolute number, and there's no real way to know it without destructive test (adding and dynamometer and increasing the load until it breaks). Nevertheles, it is essential to estimate the strength, in relation to the expected load it needs to support. For example, for a rope rescue, when hauling is needed, you need a stronger anchor than for rappeling.

Anchor safety

Anchor safety is the measure of certainty the anchor will not pull out by chance, or by user mistake. Cmmon examples are a nut that is pulled in the wrong direction, a sling around a spike, that is accidetially lifted or even if you decide to change the direction of pull after the anchor i already set. Anchor safety also refers to the immediate vicinity to the anchor: the rock quality, the rock type etc.

The following table shows a few examples for strong, weak, safe and unsafe anchors:

safe unsafe
  • A large, in-situ boulder
  • A large oak
  • A 15cm high tree stump
  • A large boulder, sitting on sandy soil, with the rope around it
  • A cam in a flaring frack
  • A piece of pro placed in a crack in a rock, where the whole rock can be pulled out

Further reading

contributions to this page by: Mica yaniv and others...