Equipment and Techniques - Rigging with Eco Anchors


Although Eco anchor placements have considerable strength, basic rigging practices i.e. backups, shared loading 'Y' hangs, deviations etc. should still be used. Eco anchors are not an excuse for bad rigging techniques. All the precautions used to gain a safe descent and ascent of pitches and negotiate exposed areas, still apply when using these anchors.

SRT

When using SRT, the rope can be tied directly to the first anchor by using a figure of eight knot. Maillons or karabiners are then used for the attachment of the rope to further Eco anchors to the head of the pitch, where two anchors, normally on opposite walls, provide a 'Y' hang. It is good practice to try and keep the rope taut, this ensures that each anchor placement is backed up to the previous anchor.

All anchor placements at pitch heads have been placed to give a free hang as far as a re-belay or deviation, as required. It is still important to check that a rub point has not been caused by too short, or too long a loop in the 'Y' hang. Occasionally 2 maillons or karabiners may be required to avoid a rub point close to the anchor placement.

DO NOT tie the rope to the first anchor and then pass it through all the other anchors to the head of the pitch, the rope must be secured to each individual anchor placement.

Due to the shape of the Eco anchor, more than one rope can be rigged from each anchor point. This practice may lead to some tangling of the ropes, but this is far safer than using other (non Eco) anchor points, where security and strength of placement cannot be guaranteed.

Ladder and Lifeline techniques

Use at least three anchor points for pitches rigged using ladder and lifeline. The belay device is best attached to two shared anchors. Cows tails used in conjunction with traverse lines will provide safety when negotiating exposed areas. Always use a pulley or karabiner for double lifelines, under no circumstances should the rope be pulled through an Eco anchor when loaded. This action will damage the rope and cause premature wear on the inner curvature of the Eco anchor.

Pull through trips

A number of caves are descended as 'pull through' trips. When descending a cave and pulling through, the rope should be always be threaded through two anchors. There are a number of safe ways to approach the head of the pitch.

If the Eco anchors are more than a cows tail width apart, tie a butterfly or figure of eight knot in the rigging rope so that you can reach the next anchor.

A separate short length of rope can be taken to rig each traverse, (long enough for the longest traverse), this is derigged by the last person to descend, during the traverse and finally unfastening the last anchor point from a safe position or while the descender is locked off on the main descent rope. Take care to ensure that the short end of rope is knotted to prevent anyone descending the wrong rope. When a single rope descender is being used, a Butterfly or Figure of Eight knot with a karabiner (maillion is better) can be used to strangle the anchor, care is required to ensure that inexperienced cavers descend the correct rope. The pitch can be rigged with a single rope until the last person, or the spare end pulled up to avoid confusion.

When clipping directly to an anchor, it is possible that under certain circumstances during movement, the anchor can open the gate of snap gate karabiners.