11. Building Traditional Anchors – Part 1 or 2

In this video we review the fundamentals of building a traditional anchor system. You’ll notice we revisit the acronym of S.E.R.E.N.E., however this time we have added an extra “E”, which will be covered in the next video “Building Trad Anchors – S.E.R.E.N.E.”

For now, let’s start from the top:


Similar to sport climbing, we want to make sure the rock where we are building the anchor is solid and strong.

However, in contrast to sport climbing which only uses bolted anchors, traditional anchors can be created using a mix of passive and active protection. A “stopper” (or “nut”)  is considered passive protection, because it slots into a constriction. Cams (spring-loaded camming devices) are an example of active protection, because they have springs that hold them in place.

Traditional anchors should have at least three protection points—ideally a mix of cams and stoppers.


Using a cordelette or double length sling, clip into each of the protection points, and pull down on the parts of cordelette between each protection point (in the direction of pull). Then tie a figure eight or overhand knot to create the equalized master point.

Once you’ve created the master point, pull down on the system to make sure that each leg of the anchor shares the load of the climber equally.

Also check to make sure the angle of your anchor is under 90 degrees. The wider the angle, the more force that is applied to each of the individual protection points. At 120 degrees, the force of a fall is doubled on each of the pieces.

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.