Figure-8 on a Bight

'Essential Knots: Figure-8 on a Bight' is part of the book - Sport Climbing Basics.

VDiff learn to sport climb e-book book

The figure-8 on a bight is used for:
- Attaching the rope to a belay anchor
- Creating a master point in a cordelette or sling
- Attaching yourself to the rope when cleaning an anchor

how to tie the figure 8 bight

How to Tie the Figure-8 on a Bight

Step 1
Form an ‘8’ shape in the rope as shown.

how to tie the figure 8 on a bight

Step 2
Push the end of the rope through the top part of the 8.

figure 8 on a bight

Step 3
Pull it tight.

tie figure-8 on a bight

Stopper Knot
Make sure to add a stopper knot when tying a figure-8 in the end of a rope.

tie figure-8 on a bight

VDiff sport climbing book

Figure-8’s are designed to be end-loaded (pulled along the line of the knot).

tie figure-8 on a bight climbing

If you load the loop in two opposing directions, the knot can roll over itself and lose strength or fail completely. For this reason, you should never use the figure-8 to join ropes for abseiling. Use the overhand knot instead.

tie figure-8 on a bight climbing

Tying Into the Middle of a Rope

You can use a variation of the figure-8 to tie into the middle of a rope. Tie in to the rope with a figure-8 as normal, but use a bight of rope instead. Clip the final loop into your belay loop to complete the knot.

tie to middle of rope

Sport Anchors – Part 1 of 4 – Introduction

These articles about sport climbing anchors are part of the book - Sport Climbing Basics.

VDiff learn to sport climb e-book

Many climbs have bolted 'sport anchors' at the top. This is the standard for sport climbs worldwide, but is also common at many North American trad climbing venues.

These bolted anchors will usually be equipped with mallions (quick links) or lowering rings, sometimes connected with chains. You won’t be able to simply clip your rope through this type of anchor like you would at the gym. Instead, you’ll need untie from the rope and thread it through. After that, you can either abseil, or have your partner lower you down.

It’s important to learn how to do this in the correct order. If you thread an anchor incorrectly, you could drop your rope and be ‘stranded’ at the anchor, or even become completely detached from the bolts.

Sport anchors lowering chains

Sport Anchors: Lower, Abseil or Walk Off?

There are basically three ways to descend; walk off, lower or abseil (rappel). You will either lower or abseil to get down from most sport routes. Your choice largely depends on the type of anchor, how it is positioned and what you plan to do after the climb.

Lowering from a sport anchor is quicker than abseiling. It’s also much easier to retrieve gear on your way down when lowering. However, abseiling puts much less wear on the rings and your rope. This could be the best option if the rings are already showing signs of wear.

If the next climber is going to top-rope the route, you should make an anchor from your own gear and lower down from that.

If you are the last person to climb the route, you’ll need to clean all your gear from the anchor before you descend.

For anchors which are in a poor position for lowering or abseiling (e.g: far back across a ledge), it is much better to belay your partner from the top of the climb. You can then walk off.

Each of these scenarios requires a different anchor setup. These are described in the following articles.

Sport Anchors – Part 2 of 4 – Setting Up a Top Rope

'Sport Anchors - Setting Up a Top Rope' is part of the book - Sport Climbing Basics.

VDiff learn to sport climb ebook

With the security of an anchored rope above, top-roping is the safest way to climb. A top-roped climber can rest on the rope whenever they are too tired to continue, safe in the knowledge that they will only fall a few inches. Top-roping is great for beginners, large groups or for experienced climbers who want to push their physical limits.

You Will Need:
* Four screwgate carabiners
* A cordelette/ long sling

Best Situation To Use this Method
- If the next climber will top rope the route

Step 1
After leading up to the anchor, clip a screwgate carabiner directly into each bolt. They will usually be better orientated if you clip them underneath the lowering rings.

Sport climbing top rope anchor

Step 2
Clip the sling or cordelette to both carabiners. Pull it down in the middle so both strands of sling are equal.

Sport climbing top rope cordelete anchor

Step 3
Tie an overhand knot in it.

Sport climbing top rope

This creates a central point.

Sport climbing top rope belay

Step 4
Clip two screwgate carabiners into the central point with their gates facing in opposite directions.

Sport climbing top roping

Step 5
Clip the rope through the carabiners from the back so the rope is coming out towards you.

Step 6
Ask your belayer to take you tight. You are now ready to lower and the top rope is set.

A more advanced, but often better, alternative is to use the quad anchor.

How to make a sport climbing top rope anchor

VDiff sport climbing book

Setting Up a Top Rope from Above

At some crags it is possible to set up a top-rope by walking to the top and equalizing anchor bolts or trees. Be careful when walking around the top of a crag un-roped. You may need to make an anchor further back from the cliff edge and then be put on belay while you set up the top-rope anchor.

If the bolts are set back on a ledge, or situated in a place which causes the rope to rub over an edge, you should extend the anchor and pad the edge.

Make sure to double up the slings or cordelettes which extend the anchor over the edge. An old piece of carpet, foam pads or garden hose pipes (without metal lining) make good padding.

How to make a top rope anchor climbing

Even if your anchor is bomber, extended and well padded, it is wise to check it periodically if it is being used repeatedly. Setting up a trad anchor using trees or other trad gear is explained here.

Sport Anchors – Part 4 of 4 – Belaying from the Top

'Sport Climbing Anchors - Belaying from the Top' is part of the book - Sport Climbing Basics.

VDiff sport climbing book

For most sport climbs, you will belay from the bottom – just like you would at the indoor gym. However, you should belay from the top of the route when the anchor is in a poor position to lower from or abseil, or if you intend to walk off the top.

Step 1 - Equalize
Attach a cordelette to the anchor in the same way as if you were setting up a top rope.

How to set up sport climbing anchors

Step 2 - Attach
You'll need to attach yourself to the anchor in a way that you can see your partner as they follow the pitch and brace yourself if they fall. Once you are tight to the anchor, make sure you are positioned in a straight line between the central anchor point and the climber. You shouldn’t be pulled sideways if the climber falls.

You'll often need to extend your anchor to get into the optimal belay position. There are many ways to do this, each with their own advantages and limitations. The most common attachment and belay methods are described below.

belay position for sport climbing anchors

Step 3 - Choose a Belay Method
Pull up all the slack rope in the system until it's tight on your partner, then choose a method to belay them.

Three of the most common belaying methods are described below. It's important to understand the advantages and limitations of each, and be able to adapt these methods to suit any situation.

VDiff sport climbing book

Attaching to Sport Climbing Anchors

Method 1 - Clip Directly
Clip your belay loop into the central point directly with a screwgate carabiner.

- Simple

- No dynamic aspect to the anchor (using the rope is much better. See methods 2-4)
- Very difficult to adjust belay position

Best Situation to Use this Method
If extending the anchor with the rope would put you in a bad position to belay.

How to belay sport climbing

Method 2 - Tie to the Central Point
Tie your rope to the central point using a clovehitch. Then fine-tune your belay position by adjusting the clovehitch; just shuffle rope through and pull it tight. The rope between you and the central point will need to be fairly tight.

- Only uses a small amount of rope

- Belay position must be close to the central point

Best Situation to Use this Method
If the central point is within reasonable reach of your belay position (up to 2 meters or so).

How to attach to a climbing anchor

Method 3 - Loop Through the Central Point
Clip the rope through the screwgate on the central point, then walk to your belay position. Attach a screwgate to your rope loop and then clovehitch the rope to it.

- You can fine-tune your belay position without moving back to the anchor.

- Uses more rope and one extra screwgate than method 2

Best Situation to Use this Method
If the central point is out of reach from your belay position.

How to clip to a sport climbing anchor

Method 4 - Attaching Directly to the Bolts
Clovehitch the rope to both bolts, leaving a little slack between the two. Then clovehitch the rope to your rope loop with another screwgate.

- Equalizes two points
- Doesn’t require using a cordelette

- Must be close to the anchor in order to fine-tune your belay position.
- The central point is created at your belay loop. This means that you must belay directly from your harness (you can't use guide mode).

Best Situation to Use this Method
If you forget to bring a sling/cordelette.

How to clip to a climbing anchor

Sport Climbing Anchors: Belaying from the Top

Method 1 - Redirected Belay
Clip another screwgate carabiner to the central point and run your partners rope through this, then down to your belay device. You'll be able to belay as you normally would on a top rope.

Your belay device will need to be at least 1.5 meters away from the central point. This reduces the chance of you being sucked into it if your partner falls.

Also, make sure that the rope isn't rubbing against your attachment knot at the central point.

- Most of the weight of a falling climber is transferred to the anchor, not your harness.

- It's possible to get pulled into the central point if your partner falls, particularly if they are heavier than you. In this case, there is a real danger of losing control of the brake rope.

Best Situation to Use this Method
When you have a nice ledge to stand on and the central point is just above your head.

Indirect belaying redirected belay

Method 2 - Belay Directly from your Harness
Attach your belay device to either your belay loop or rope loop. This can be set up so the brake rope comes out of either the top or bottom of the belay device – choose whichever way is easier to lock off the brake rope.

In most situations, the weight of a falling climber will pull down from you, not up. Because of this, you will need to lock off upwards not downwards.

- You can use this method for almost every belay situation.

- If your partner falls, it's possible that their weight will pull uncomfortably on your harness or over your legs.

Best Situation to Use This Method
If you have used your rope to equalize the anchor.

Belaying directly from harness

Method 3 - Guide Mode
Some belay devices have a 'guide mode' function - they can be set up in a way which locks automatically if a climber falls. They can be used as a normal belay device too. Guide mode often works well on sport climbing anchors.

Read our article about how to use guide mode.

How to use guide mode climbing

Where to Put the Spare Rope

There are basically two options. Either stack it into a neat pile somewhere or stack it through a sling.

For the sling method, start by pushing a long loop of rope through the sling. Continue doing this, making smaller loops each time (bigger loops are more likely to get tangled into each other when you are belaying the leader on the next pitch).

However you choose to stack the rope, make sure it is within reach and that you can do it one-handed; you'll need to belay at the same time!

How to use guide mode climbing

Rope Loop or Belay Loop?

You can belay either from your belay loop or from your rope loop.

In some situations, using the rope loop can be more comfortable - it allows you to transfer the weight of a fallen climber onto the anchor, rather than having their weight pulling on your harness.

If you are unsure, just use your belay loop.

Belaying directly from harness

Attaching to the Anchor – Slings, Daisy Chains and Common Mistakes

'Slings, Daisy Chains and Common Mistakes' is part of the book - Sport Climbing Basics.

VDiff learn to sport climb e-book book

Attaching to the Anchor: The Top Shelf

To free up space at the central point, you can clip in to the ‘top shelf’ of the cordelette. This is useful when:
- Belaying in guide mode
- Using a redirected belay
- There will be more than one other climber attaching to the central point

Step 1
Cinch the cordelette tight and attach a screwgate to the central point. This ensures the knot cannot roll.

Step 2
Clip each individual loop of the cordelette with another screwgate.

top shelf climbing anchor

Step 3
Attach yourself to the screwgate.

cordelette top shelf climbing anchor

Make sure you have clipped through each cordelette strand individually.

top shelf of a cordelette

It is dangerous to clip around the strands as shown.

clipping the top shelf climbing anchor

If one part of the anchor fails, you will become completely detached.

clipping the top shelf of a cordelette

VDiff sport climbing book

Attaching to the Anchor: Slings, PAS and Daisy Chains

Slings are designed to be used with a dynamic rope in the system to lessen the impact on them.

Much higher forces can be generated when they are used alone.

rock climbing sling

Personal Anchor Systems
A Personal Anchor System (PAS) is a series of very short sewn slings connected in a chain-link-style. They are designed as an idiot-proof anchor attachment. Once girth hitched to your harness, any part of the PAS can be clipped to an anchor to provide a full strength attachment.

personal anchor system climbing

Attaching to the Anchor
It's only safe to attach yourself to an anchor with a sling or a PAS if you won't be moving above it (such as when setting up an abseil).

If you fall when above an anchor (even if you are only a foot above), unusually large forces will be generated. This is because slings do not absorb much energy – think of it as similar to falling when attached to a length of steel cable. You can damage internal organs with just a 10kN force – falling onto a sling directly is likely to be much higher than this.

It could also break the sling, or the anchor. If there is any chance that you will move sideways or above the anchor, make sure to attach to it with the rope.

attaching to a climbing anchor with slings

Daisy Chains
Daisy chains look and function in a similar way to the PAS, but they are only full strength when clipped end-to-end.

daisy chain climbing

The stitching between loops on daisy chains is very low strength.

If you connect to an anchor by clipping a carabiner through two consecutive loops, the stitching could break, causing you to become completely detached from the anchor.

how not to use daisy chains climbing

Adjustable daisy chains are not full strength (usually rated to around 5kN) and should never be used as your primary anchor attachment.

adjustable daisy chain

Attaching to the Anchor: Common Mistakes

Tying Clovehitches on Snapgates
Part of the clovehitch could easily snap through the gate, making the knot useless. Never tie clovehitches on snapgate carabiners. Use a screwgate, or two opposite and opposed snapgates (see below) instead.

clove hitch rock climbing

Too Many Knots on one Carabiner
This is bad because:
- If the blue rope is weighted, it will be impossible to remove the green rope.
- If the green rope is a climber’s attachment point and you open the gate to remove the blue rope, the climber will only be attached by an open carabiner – this is very dangerous.

If you need to attach more than one knot to an anchor, use a separate screwgate for each.

clovehitches climbing

Non-Equalized Anchor Attachment
If one bolt fails, everything will swing onto the other bolt. This presents a real danger of losing control of the belay.

It is much safer to equalize the anchor as shown here.

bolted anchor climbing

Clipping Snapgates Together
A slight twist can cause the carabiner’s gate to open.

Instead, use a quickdraw, sling or screwgate carabiner depending on the situation.

clipping snapgate carabiners together

Attaching to the Anchor: No Screwgates?

If you need a screwgate but don’t have one, you can use two ‘opposite and opposed’ snapgates instead. This is useful in situations such as attaching to an anchor.

opposed carabiners

This is a common incorrect carabiner alignment. If one carabiner flips around, both gates could be pushed open at the same time.

opposite and opposed carabiners