In this video, veteran climber Beth Rodden explains three different methods for building a trad anchor, based on varying circumstances of rock that you might encounter.
In the final two examples, Beth uses the Metolius Equalizer—a lightweight and convenient piece of gear for equalizing multiple anchor points at belays. It features two reinforced, full-strength end-loops for additional clip-in points and packs up into a small pouch that you can clip to your harness.
Building an anchor in a single crack system
This first method outlines an anchor-building scenario in which you are placing three bomber pieces into one crack system. This approach makes use of the rope to build the anchor; only advisable for when you’re swapping leads with your partner.
Here’s how to do it:
- Tie a “super eight” knot using your rope, which provides two points of contact that you can lengthen and shorten.
- Clip each ear of rope to one piece of gear, adjusting each until equalized.
- For the third piece, tie a clove hitch from your end of the rope and tighten until equalized.
Not sure how to tie a super eight? Watch this video below:
Building an anchor with more than 3 pieces of gear
Unfortunately, you don’t always have the greatest rock or crack system available when you need to build an anchor. In moments where you must place four pieces of gear to ensure adequate safety, creating an equalized, safe anchor can require a bit more work.
In such scenarios, Beth recommends the following approach using the Metolius Equalizer:
- First, equalize two nearby pieces using a sliding X with a sling. Do this by clipping a sling into both pieces, pulling the sling between both pieces, making a twist, and clipping the final loop to a carabiner. The final twist ensures that if a piece were to pull, the gear would remain on the system.
- Take your Equalizer and clip it into each of the three anchor placements (your two-piece equalized setup counting as one), and pull down between these three points.
- Take the ends that you have pulled taught and tie a figure eight on a bight in the direction from which your seconding climber will ascend.
- Clip a locking carabiner into the master point.
Building an anchor with a large horizontal span
Oftentimes, building an anchor utilizing differing cracks or rock features can offer a safer system that doesn’t overly rely on just one section of rock. It can also provide you and your partner with more space at the belay. In such moments, you may find yourself needing to place pieces further apart, which will entail a slightly more complex equalization strategy.
Here’s what Beth recommends in a scenario with four pieces of gear:
- Like in the previous scenario, equalize two nearby pieces using a sliding X with a sling.
- This time, however, tie an overhand knot on a bight, taught in the direction of your seconding climber and clip in the carabiner. This avoids potentially shock-loading the system, should a piece fail.
- Then, clip all points into the Equalizer, pull through, and tie an overhand on a bight pulled towards you, to serve as your masterpoint. Clip yourself into this masterpoint.
- Then, using the unique reinforced end loop of the Equalizer, redirect your partner with a quickdraw, pull up their slack, clip the rope into the quickdraw, and belay off of the belay loop on your harness.
- Lengths: 10ft (3m) or 15ft (4.5m)
- Weight: 10in: 5.1 oz. (143g), 15in: 6.9 oz. (196g)
- Strength: 22kn when used as a looped sling or a two/three point anchor or 18kn when used end-to-end
- Carabiners not included
Explore MoreRelated articles you'll love
Today’s Best Rock Climbing Gear Deals
200+ rock climbing videos
Strategies for Safer Rappelling
Video: Above the Fray—Beth Rodden on Climbing, Vulnerability, and Motherhood
Why You Shouldn’t Use a Daisy Chain for a Personal Anchor
Gear You Ought to Know: Sterling Rope’s Hollow Block
Climber Spotlight: Beth Rodden on Redpointing Tips, Training, and Nutrition
The Best Way to Belay from Above
How to Build Your First Trad Rack
Gear You Ought to Know: A Review of Metolius Ultralight Master Cams
Climber Confessional: A Lesson in Backing Up Your Systems
How to Rappel if You Drop Your Belay Device
Climbing Rope Management During Rappel
10 Dos & Don’ts of Multi-Pitch Climbing
Get daily updates by Liking us on Facebook
Free rock climbing PDFs on technique, training, knots, and more