Friday, April 9, 2010

The J-Tree $Money$ Anchor

It is currently high season in Joshua Tree, and I have been getting lots of inquiries about the best way to build top-rope anchors in the Park. Anyone who has been to J-Tree before knows that there is a near absence of fixed protection and that gear placements and natural anchors are often located well back from the edge of the cliff.

My basic J-Tree Anchor-Building Tool Kit includes:
  • 50-80 feet of 10mm anchor cord
  • 1 cordelette (24 feet of 7mm nylon cord, tied into a continuous loop)
  • 2 double shoulder-length sewn runners
  • 3 miscellaneous carabiners
  • 3 non-locking oval carabiners, used for the masterpoint

The following diagram shows the basic anchor set-up that I use for most routes. Following the diagram is a series of steps that represent my usual work-flow when approaching top-rope anchor building in J-Tree. This system applies to more than 90% of the top-rope anchors that I build.

  1. Create a solid, multi-point anchor that is located a comfortable distance back from the top of the cliff. In many cases, available protection is 10-30 feet back from the top of the route.
  2. Clip the end of a 10-11mm anchor cord to your multi-point anchor. (If necessary, it is possible to use a klemheist or rappel device on the anchor cord to protect yourself as you approach the edge of the cliff.)
  3. Using a "BHK," tie the masterpoint at the desired point on the anchor cord (and at the desired location at the top of the climbing route).
  4. Place one more piece of protection near the cliff's edge. Be thoughtful about the location of this piece, as its main function will be to keep the masterpoint in the location that you have selected. Clip the anchor cord to this piece of protection using a clove hitch. The clove hitch will allow you to micro-adjust the position of the masterpoint (shorten the strand of anchor cord to draw the masterpoint closer; lengthen the strand of anchor cord in order to move the masterpoint father from the piece).