18. Horizontal Trad Anchor

In this video we review considerations for horizontal traditional anchors, where the anchor pieces are all placed in a horizontal crack as opposed to a vertical crack.

Some considerations when using horizontal trad anchors include:

1. Lifespan of gear – Sustained weight or tension on horizontally placed cams can cause damage to the stems. Note some cams (i.e. Aliens) have a flexible stem and are better suited for horizontal placements.

2. Angle of anchor – Is the angle between the outermost legs of your anchor 60 degrees or less? At 90 degrees, you start to increase forces on each leg of the anchor above 1:1 (meaning each leg has to told more than the weight of the climber in the event of a fall—a classic bummer of rock climbing physics).

3. S.E.R.E.N.E. – Does the anchor pass the SERENE test of Solid, Equalized, Redundant, Efficient, and No Extensions?

4. Be aware of wandering routes – As compared to more vertical trad anchors, the horizontal trad anchor offers more side to side stability; however, it is susceptible to becoming unequalized if the route wanders and tension is applied from far left or right of the master point. In this case more weight is placed on a single cam or stopper, and if that piece fails under the higher proportional load, it could then shock load the next piece—a situation to be avoided!

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.