8. Top Rope Anchor – The Sliding X

Unlike gym climbing, outdoor climbing typically requires an anchor to be created at the top of the route. There are several anchor systems to choose from. In this video, we review the “Sliding X.” This is an anchor which has gone in and out of style through the years, and has some pitfalls. It is not our most recommended anchor style, but we discuss it here so that you are familiar with if, how, and when to use it.

The main benefit of the Sliding X is that it can automatically adjust the equalization point; therefore, it can be a good choice for a wandering climb, where the climber will traverse while climbing to the anchor.

2 – Pre-existing bolts and hangers
2 – Double-length slings
2 – Non-locking carabiners
1 – Locking carabiner -and- 1 non-locking carabiner
2 – non locking carabiners
2 – locking carabiners for the Master Point

Step 1 – Clip the 2 non-locking carabiners into the bolted anchor points (one carabiner for each bolt hanger).

Step 2 – Clip two double length slings (for redundancy) into each carabiner, and pull in the direction of the climber.

Step 3 – Holding each “half” of the double length sling in one hand, which means you’ll have two strands in each hand, flip one to create a loop. This marks the X of the Sliding X.

Step 4 – Clip all four strands with two opposite and opposed carabiners. The carabiners should slide smoothly from side to side as the slings adjust the equalization point.

NOTE: At no point should the Master Point (which is less defined in this anchor, but is where the opposite and opposed carabiners rest) drop down and shock load either piece of the anchor. This is possible with the Sliding X if one of the bolts were to fail (and violates SRENE, see video). For this reason, we use two double length slings so we are very confident in the strength of the slings, and two unquestionably solid bolts.

We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!


Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.