Rock Climbing Anchors: Everything You Need To Know


For adventure lovers, the feeling of moving up rock faces is appealing. However, the top of most rock climbing routes tend to be confusing, and making even a small mistake could result in a fall. To stay safe, you need to set up the right climbing anchors. 

Whether lead climbing or top-roping, understanding how to build solid rock climbing anchors is critical to staying securely attached to the rock. In this article, we will help you understand the principles of anchor building while showing you various things you need to put into consideration. 

What Are Climbing Anchors

Climbing anchors are systems made up of individual anchor points that are linked together to create what is referred to as the master point. The climbing rope and/or the climbers clip into the master point to be attached securely to the rock they are climbing. 

How to Build Rock Climbing Anchors

1. Identify the Anchor Points 

Before you can build the anchor, you have to determine what you will use as the anchor points. What you choose will depend on where you are currently and the gear you have available. Below, we will look at the different anchor points:

Natural Anchor Points

Natural anchor points, such as blocks of rock and trees, can make good anchors and help you with conserving your climbing gear. However, you have to assess the integrity of the features before you incorporate them into the anchor system. 


You should make sure that the tree is alive, solid, and well-rooted. Avoid trees growing out of cliffs. If you have to wear your climbing pants and climbing helmet while using a tree as an anchor point, make sure that the tree is at least 12 inches in diameter. To use the tree as your anchor point, you can circle your runner around its base and clip the ends together with a carabiner

Rock Features 

Chockstones and horns are commonly used as anchor points. When assessing their integrity, you should focus on ensuring they are well attached and solid. Make sure that they do not have any cracks/brittle rocks indicating weakness. 

With the horns, you can loop the runner over the top and then clip it to your rope. To attach the rope to the chockstone, circle the runner around the feature and then clip its ends with your carabiner. 

Fixed Anchor Points 

This is artificial gear that once placed will be left permanently fixed on the rock. To attach your rope, you simply clip runners or quickdraws to the gear. Pitons and bolts are 2 examples of fixed anchors. 

When using fixed anchors, check for weakness signs. If you see excessive corrosion/wear or cracks, you should avoid using the anchor points. 

Removable Anchor Points

Cams and stoppers are used in areas where you cannot find both fixed and natural protection. You carry these anchor points in your climbing backpack and place them on the rock as you climb up. Taking care to ensure their solidity is the key to staying safe. 

2. Connect Your Anchor Points 

To build rock climbing anchors, you will have to connect the individual anchor points to make a master point to clip into. Standard climbing anchors will have 2 to 3 anchor points that hold downward pulls and 1 that holds the upward pull. 

All the anchor points have to be connected and equalized to ensure that the load is distributed equally among them. Static equalization and self-equalization are the 2 primary methods used when equalizing anchors.

Static Equalization 

This refers to the anchor system incorporating multiple anchor points that have been tied off together. Once tied off, the system lacks adjustability and slack in it. Anchors featuring static equalization are great for climbs that feature a clear pull direction, for example, straight down. 


This is a way of constructing the anchor so that it will adjust to the changes in the pull direction, to distribute the load equally to anchor points. If you think the pull direction may change, using the self-equalizing anchor may be a better idea.

Once you connect your anchor points and equalize them ideally, anyone should be able to use their climbing harness and belay device to move up the rock without risking fatal falls. However, there are several anchor considerations you may need to keep in mind. We will look at these below. 

Rock Climbing Anchors Considerations

Multidirectional Anchors 

When climbing multiple pitches, it is always a good idea to build multidirectional anchors that can handle pulls from any direction. This will help you avoid getting injured while trying to enjoy nature.  

If you intend to climb rocks on your backpacking trip, be sure to build anchors that withstand both the upward and downward pulls – this should keep the anchor system from failing. Bolts and horizontally-placed cams are examples of anchor points that when used the right way can hold pulls from both directions. 

Anchor Angles and Forces 

The horizontal spacing existing between your anchor points and the slings you use to connect to the anchor points are extremely important in creating reliable anchors. This is because the amount of force applied to every anchor point will depend on the angle formed by the slings coming together. 

The smaller the angle, the smaller the force that each anchor point will receive, and vise versa. To keep the force on every anchor point from reaching dangerous levels, you should ensure that the angles formed by the anchor system aren’t greater than 60 degrees. 

High Master Point 

Whenever possible, you should try to build your rock climbing anchors so that their masterpoints are located between your chest and just above the head. This should allow for more efficient belaying. 



Q: How Do You Anchor Climbing?


To anchor when climbing, you need to first determine the anchor points. If you cannot find natural or fixed anchor points, you will have to use removable anchor points. After determining the anchor points to use, the final step is to connect these anchor points and equalize them to ensure that the force is evenly distributed.

Q: How Does A Rock Climbing Anchor Work?


Simply defined, a climbing anchor is a system made up of anchor points that have been linked together to create a master point. Climbers clip to the master point to stay securely attached to the rock. The main function of the anchor is to keep the climbers from falling.

Q: How Do You Equalize Climbing Anchors?


To equalize the climbing anchor, you will need a double-length sling and 4 carabiners. Clip a carabiner onto each of your 2 anchor points and then clip your sling through both carabiners. Grab all the 4 strands of the sling and then pull them down towards the direction of where the rock climber is.

Q: How Do You Make An Anchor Around A Tree?


To use a tree as an anchor point, you will need to circle a runner around the base of the tree and then clip the ends together with a carabiner. Alternatively, you can girth-hitch a long runner around the tree.

Q: What is a Belay Anchor?


A belay anchor is generally used as a sole attachment to the cliff face. It helps with supporting the top rope or the belay. In the case of a fall, the belay anchor will act as a safeguard.

Q: What Is A Personal Anchor System?


A PAS (personal anchor system) is a piece of rock climbing gear that is meant to secure you directly to the anchors available on the climbing route. Personal Anchor Systems are generally used when cleaning a route.

Globo Surf Overview 

While rocking climbing is both exhilarating and exciting, you need to do everything in your power to ensure that you are 100% safe after putting on your climbing shoes. Part of staying safe is ensuring that you are always attached to the rock – this can be easily achieved using rock climbing anchors. In this article, we have explained the important things you need to know about climbing anchors.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!