The climb isn't over when you reach the top; you still need to make a trad anchor to attach yourself and belay your partner from.
You should produce trad anchors with at least two (preferably three) good pieces of gear, that are equalized together to a central point. This central point is where you attach yourself and belay from.
How you create this central point will depend on what gear is available, how spaced it is, if you have one rope or two, and whether the climb is a single or a multi-pitch.
It's essential to know each technique and be able to adapt your anchor building skills for each unique situation.
What To Do When You Reach the Top of a Trad Climb
When you arrive at the top of the crag, or the top of the pitch, have a look around for good gear. This may be obvious (a cleaned-out nut placement or a sturdy tree) or not so obvious. You'll need to find at least 2 or 3 good placements in a relatively small area.
If you can't find enough gear to make a secure anchor, you'll have to go somewhere else! Try a little further back or along the crag top. On a multi-pitch, you may have to climb up a bit higher, or down-climb if you've just passed a suitable place. It is essential that you find a place to make a solid anchor.
When you've found enough good gear placements for the anchor, you'll need to make a belay plan. Your plan will include:
1) How you will equalize the gear together.
2) Where exactly you will sit or stand to belay.
3) How you will attach yourself to the anchor.
4) Which belay technique you will use.
5) Where you will put the extra rope.
When your plan is complete, you can start making the anchor. Each part of this plan is fully explained in the following articles.
Once you've got one piece of gear in, clip the rope through it as if you're still climbing. This will protect you if you slip while building the rest of your anchor.You can unclip this later when you are safely attached to the anchor.
Trad Anchors: The Six-Point Rule
You should create trad anchors which are worth at least 6 points. Points are awarded as follows:
3 points: A new bolt or a sling around a large tree.
2 points: A well placed piece of trad gear.
1 point: A well placed micro nut or micro cam.
0 points: Any suspect gear which is either placed incorrectly or in bad rock.
Only experience can teach you how many points a piece of gear is worth.
Don't place all of the anchor pieces behind the same feature (especially with flakes or blocks). If that feature is loose, your entire anchor will fall out when weighted!
For this reason, it’s better to place gear in different cracks and features.