Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Membership now as great as the outdoors!
Already a member? Take a look at the Co-op Members section of the community.
Ready to join? Explore all of the benefits here.

Personal Anchor Preferences

What are your preferences on safe personal anchor setups for when "going in direct" at the end of a climb, to then get lowered and clean? 

I have been using the metolius PAS for a bit but have found that on unique anchor arrangements it can be somewhat limiting. 

I picked up x2 11mm 120cm dyneema slings.  Planning on girth looping and doubling them up etc. pending anchor placement. 

Will I run into a need for 120cm enough to justify it?

Thought they would also come in handy for belaying from above on multies, say if I want to get a better line of sight on my follow. 

4 Replies


Thanks for the question! I, too, have used the Metolius PAS for a while and appreciate how simple it can make my anchor systems. As I read your question I am curious if you meant 240cm? You mention that you already picked up 2 120mm slings. I would say that I carry a set of 240cm slings but I do not use them very often (admittedly I do not push hard in my climbing). You are right that they give you added flexibility and options (weird anchor configurations or belaying from above). I would recommend checking this Expert Advice article on choosing slings, but I think you're probably well on your way. I hope this helps, thanks!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.


In most situations, I find a clove hitch in the climbing rope to a locking caribiner on the anchor to be the fastest, most versatile, flexible and least gear-dependent option. It's what I use most of the time on multipitch, especially for positioning myself to belay from above. Here's a video from AMGA, and here are a few variations I like for making it extra versatile.

Another method I like when I know I'll need to rappel is a 120cm nylon sling girth hitched through my tie-in points with an overhand knot in the middle to create a shelf to attach a rappel device. This is the second technique demonstrated in this video from AMGA. I like this method because it creates an easy transition from 'in direct' to 'on rappel', is typically about the right length to give me working room around the anchor, and uses gear I'm already carrying. I commonly use this method backed up with a clove hitch on the climbing rope to create redundancy. My personal preference for this method is nylon instead of dyneema, as nylon can mitigate some of the concerns of a fall shock loading whatever anchor I'm attached to. Here's a video about that.

There are a number of different methods out there- I like these two, but inevitably end up using others as a given anchor situation might call for. I like to practce and get comfortable with a few so I've always got a toolbox of safe techniques to navigate a variety of situations.

It probably goes without saying, but: Climbing is an inherently dangerous activity that can lead to serious injury or death. The information shared here is not a substitute for education from a certified professional guide. 


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Greatly appreciated! All great info! 

I did not realize that dyneema and nylon had different stretch characteristics. 

What about a scenario in which I lead a sport route and want to set an anchor for others to TR off; normally I'll just use 2 draws (make one a locker for added security) or bring a static 7mm rope for cordalette, but could theoretically use a 240 sling?

If 240 sling would work, would that be best to be nylon as well, to reduce shock load? I suppose if it was properly equalized then it's not a concern... 



Personal anchor systems are a very different subject than toprope/sport/trad climbing anchors, with a different set of considerations as far as construction, material choice and potential hazards. Check with your local REI - we offer anchor building classes that do a great job illustrating the details and differences. This is a subject that absolutely benefits from certified professional instruction.

Here is an article from Petzl that explains fall factor and impact force.

On personal anchor systems: When a climber is attached directly to a fixed anchor point(like a bolted hanger at the top of a route) with a non-dynamic material like dyneema, there is no shock absorbion available in the system, so a fall in this situation means that any fall forces generated are transferred directly and instantly to the anchored person's body and the anchor point itself. Even a short fall can generate a high impact load. Nylon has a very slight benefit over dyneema in this case as it can absorb some of this force.

On toprope anchor systems: When toproping, fall factor is lower because falls are typically shorter and there is a greater length of dynamic climbing rope in the system available to stretch and absorb/dissipate the forces of a fall. For this reason, nylon and dyneema are both acceptable anchor materials.

Hope you found this information interesting! Thanks for your questions!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.