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The Basics of Anchors and Anchor Building

June 27, 2012

From my experience, all anchors share common traits throughout.  Whether your building a multipitch anchor, a top rope anchor, a snow anchor (might be the exception), or an ice anchor there is a set of rules or a checklist that the anchor must fulfill before it is utilized.  There are many names for this checklist, but the one I will discuss here is EARNEST.  EARNEST is a little acronym you can remember when building your anchors to remember the checklist.  Here goes!

E- Equalized

-Anchors should be constructed so that each component of the anchor carries an equal amount of the load

A – Angle

-The angle made between the components of the anchor does not exceed 90 degrees.

-This does a good job of illustrating how force is distributed, and that with a greater angle, the force placed on each anchor component can go up drastically

R– Redundant

-Anchors should consist of multiple components in case one or more components fail

NE- No Extension

– Anchors should be built so that if one or more of the components fail the remaining components won’t be shock loaded

Shock Load: A sudden or unexpected load that is imposed upon a system.

S – Strong or Solid

-Each component of your anchor should be a stand alone piece ideally (I.E. a big burly tree, a bomber cam, nut or screw placement, a big, unmoving boulder, etc…)

T -Timely

– Anchors should be as simple and timely as possible without giving up any of the other ERNEST qualities.

Again, all anchors generally follow these principals and knowing them will allow the budding climber to set up anchors with confidence.

If you have never set up anchors before, ISTRONGLY suggest either hiring a guide to teach you, or having your friend who has a lot of experience show you.

Happy Sending!

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