I spent a day at Devil's Lake to learn how to set top-rope climbing anchors from several leaders in the Hoofers Mountaineering Club. After introductions, the leaders taught our group the basics of setting anchors:
– Tying knots in cordelette and webbing
– The attributes of all safe anchors – Secure, Equalized, REdundant, No Extension (SERENE)
– Advantages and disadvantages of passive protection (stoppers, hexes)
– Advantages and disadvantages of active protection (tricams, cams)
– Techniques for equalization
– How to sling boulders and trees
Next, we went over some example placements on the crag, which gave us a visual of what good and bad placements look like.
Finally, we split into smaller groups and got to set up real anchors and receive constructive criticism from the instructors. I built four separate anchors and was feeling good about my judgment in placements by the end of the day. On top of that, I was feeling a lot better about standing near the edge of a cliff while building an anchor. Climbing has helped a lot in overcoming my fear of heights.
Thanks to all of the instructors who took time out of their busy days to teach us!
The club puts on this formal anchor-setting clinic at least annually. They also also teach clinics on other skills such as lead climbing and mountaineering. If you are interested in any form of climbing, the Mountaineering Club is a great resource for skill development and connecting with other climbers. I'm really glad to have such a great resource available in Madison.