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Understanding How Rock Climbing Anchors Work

If you are a beginner in the world of rock climbing, you can easily get confused or discouraged by all the things you need to learn about this adventurous activity. One of those things includes the equipment used, such as rock climbing anchors, particularly, understanding how they work.

A climbing anchor is an attachment used for support and protection while climbing. It is attached to rock walls and is used by the climber for security to prevent falling. This is a must-have safety equipment for this activity. If you are getting started on this adventure, help you understand how the anchors work.

So how do they work?

Typically, there are two types of anchors, that is, natural anchors and artificial anchors. Natural anchors comprise of boulders or trees, while artificial anchors involve nuts, bolts, cams, and pitons.

You are highly advised to make use of more than one anchor at any one time so that each of them share an even distribution of your weight.

Natural anchors

Just because where you are conducting your rock climbing has many boulders or trees for support, it does not mean you will not require any anchors. As the climber, this only means you will have more support, but only if you take advantage of the trees and boulders available for you.

In case you go out for rock climbing and you do not have artificial anchors with you, you can attach ropes and other climbing equipment to the trees or boulders.

However, you have to ensure that your anchors are strong enough to support your weight. For example, ensure the dominant point is well spread over the edge of the cliff and focused over the climb. Ensure the rope is not blocked in any way or near any sharp points. If the rope is not well supported or fixed you may risk being unprotected.

Artificial anchors

This is a man-made equipment which works by being placed in the cracks found in rocks. The different types of artificial anchors include; spring-loaded camming devices, aluminum chockstones, pitons, and steel expansion bolts.

Ensure that once the anchor is in place, there is enough metal to rock connection so as to have greater stability. There are some artificial anchors that can only be used in indoor rock climbing.

Which are the different types of anchors?

  • Belay anchor – a type of anchor which works as a single attachment used on a cliff surface to avoid rope friction.
  • Running belay anchor – it is used in the unlikely event of a falling climber, used by two people. If one falls, the anchor which is attached to the other person, counterweights the fall. It is used where there is high risk of falling.
  • Ice anchor – used in snow/ice cliffs, mainly by mountaineers.

Final thoughts

As you note, rock climbing needs a lot of planning and precaution. Once you have the right anchor gear in place and you have done your practice, the experience should be well worth it!

How to Ensure Your Safety when Rock Climbing

Whether you are doing indoor or outdoor rock climbing, safety should always be your top priority as you seek your adventurous thrill. In some instances, your rock climbing guide may provide you with the necessary equipment or you will be required to buy your own. Either way, always examine your equipment before climbing. Their frequent use leads to wear and tear. This is the advantage of buying your own equipment because you can track its history of use.

What you should consider


First things first, you should wear clothing gear that is not confining so as it will not get in the way of you or the rope. Make sure that the outfit you will wear is one that has breathing space, absorbs sweat and dries fast so that you stay comfortable and warm while you are climbing. If the climbing is outdoors, you can carry a change of clothes in case of an unforeseeable event. Do not forget to include a comfortable pair of shoes, best suited for rock climbing.


A good climbing rope provides you protection as you climb in the event of a fall. A climbing rope is comprised of two main parts, a core, and a sheath. The core contributes most of the rope’s strength while the sheath protects the core and makes the rope easier to handle.

When getting a climbing rope, you have to make sure it covers the appropriate length. It is recommendable you get one that is elastic and is designed to hold well a falling climber.


This is the one used to attach the rope to the climber. They usually are composed of a padded, reinforced waist belt and leg loops which are attached to the waist belt with a strong relay loop. When selecting your harness, make it a priority to choose comfort and strength over savings.


Get yourself protection devices which allow a climber to lay temporary anchor points on the rock during a climb. Examples of these devices come in the form of passive protection (such as nuts which prevent the anchor from falling down) or active protection (such as a spring-loaded camming device which locks the anchor tightly in place).


The main purpose of putting on a helmet is to protect your head from falling debris such as rocks. It also protects you from serious injuries or direct impact in case of a bad fall.


While you are rock climbing, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of having clear communication for safety purposes. When there are clear communication lines especially if you are a team of climbers, it ensures efficiency, but most of all can prevent possible accidents.

Final thoughts

Before you embark on that exciting rock climbing experience, you have to double check that your protection is well catered for. Confirm that your equipment is functional and that you have the right gear for the job. After all, your safety should come first!



Guide: How To Start Rock Climbing

So you have finally decided to explore more adventure, and you are thinking of rock climbing but you have no idea where to start. You are in luck because this article will give you the basics on how to go about it.

Though rock climbing sounds like the kind of sport that may seem out of reach for a beginner, it need not be as you will soon realize. For starters, there are two modes of rock climbing – indoor and outdoor climbing.

Indoor rock climbing

You can do various forms of indoor rock climbing such as gym climbing, bouldering, top roping, and sport climbing. They all have different techniques, but with one ultimate goal – to get to the top.

Outdoor climbing

This form of rock climbing is more exciting because you get to experience other aspects such as the scenery, weather, landscapes, and nature, among others.

While with indoor climbing you have a safer and more convenient space to do practice, in outdoor rock climbing you rely on actual rocks or boulders and in some cases, you can use trees as anchors. What could be more exciting?

What will you need?

For both indoor and outdoor rock climbing, you will require more or less the same gear and skills. As your skills and interest develop, so will your understanding of what each gear does and which kind of support it provides you. So what do you need to get started?

  1. Shoes – this is one of the most important pieces of gear, because they connect the climber to the rock. Get yourself proper fitting shoes that are designed for comfort and they suit your climbing needs and interests.
  2. Rope – a rope is almost a must-have because it acts as a protection device to prevent you from falling. You can go for either dynamic ropes or static ropes. Dynamic ropes have more elasticity while static ropes are used in anchoring systems.
  3. Harness – it is used to connect the rope to the climber and they come with a variety of features each customized to different styles of climbing.
  4. Carabiners – these are metal loops with spring-loaded openings that are used as connectors. They also come in various shapes, sizes and locking mechanisms for different purposes.
  5. Chalk – this one is used for absorbing moisture (sweat) from your hands as you climb. It is stored as a powder in a chalk bag attached to the harness.
  6. Helmet – as you may have guessed, this gear is purely meant for safety purposes to prevent you from direct impact or injuries in case of a fall.

Final thoughts

Rock climbing is not as difficult as it is sometimes perceived to be. All you need is good practice and invest in the right gear and you will be set. You can even choose to do it as part of a team for that fulfilling and exciting experience. Though you may feel intimidated in the beginning, once you start you might get addicted to the thrill. So why not give it a chance and climb on!