This weeks “Guide Tech Tip” highlights what appears to be an underutilized tool. Many climbers are using tethers, P.A.S., or daisy-chains to connect them selves to anchors. This is especialy true when cleaning anchors and rappelling. All these tools have their place in climbing and can be indispensable; however, over the last few years I have been using the back side of my clove hitch to complete many different tasks while managing transitions at anchors. Not only does this save time, I also remain attached to the anchor with my climbing rope, and not some kind of less trustworthy static material. To me that’s a win, win.
*Keep in mind there are many uses for the back side of the clove hitch, this blog illustrates only one of possible scenarios.
**The following scenario assumes that the climber performing this transition has attached them selves to the master point of the anchor with a clove hitch.
A scenario that I find my self in a lot, especially in New England, is at the top of a long double rope rappel to reach the ground. Venues that I climb at a lot where this technique seems useful are (1) Thin Air face at Cathedral, (2) Cragging on Cannon and not going to the top, (3) Eagle Cliff and The Flat Iron as well as the Eaglet (4) cragging at White Horse (5) many ice climbs around the region. While climbing at these venues I am most often climbing with one guest and using twin ropes or two guests and using double ropes. This means that at the top of the route I have both ends of rope with me, which I will thread through the anchor in order to rappel.
One of the uses for the back side of your clove hitch is to use it to “attach” your self to the anchor without using a tether and while freeing up the ends of your ropes to thread through the anchor creating a double rope rappel. Below is a step-by-step, including photos. I hope this inspires you to go out and try new things with your rope craft. Enjoy!
Step 1: Clove hitch into the anchor.
Step 2: Take rope from the back side of your anchor clove, and create a new clove hitch on your belay loop using a locking carabiner.
Step 3: Free the ends of your ropes.
Step 4: Thread the anchor and tie ropes together (I am using an overhand with tails to tie my ropes together).
Step 5: Load your device for a rappel. To extend my device from my harness I am using a quickdraw with two locking carabiners.
Step 5 1/2: Make sure to back up your rappel.
Step 6: Once on your backed up rappel device, you can remove all clove hitches and anchor material and rappel.
*** Maybe this is more complicated; however, I find it simplifies the process in few ways: (1) I am not threading a tether through my harness and (2) tying knots in it, just to untie them once on the ground. (3) I am never worried about dropping my ropes because they are always attached to the anchor with a clove hitch.