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Using a Daisy Chain

How to Use a Daisy Chain While Climbing


CJ Sidebottom on Sundeck Ledge on Otto's Route on Independence Monument, Colorado.

CJ is clipped into anchors with a daisy chain.

Photograph © Stewart M. Green

A daisy chain is a length of webbing with variable-length sewn links which can be clipped into anchors with a carabiner. Daisy chains are available from most climbing gear manufacturers, including Metolius, Black Diamond Equipment, and Wild Country.

Daisy Chain Advantages

While a lot of climbers love daisy chains, it seems an equal amount of climbers hate them, finding them just another piece of gear to carry when using a couple quickdraws or slings will do the same work. Daisy chains, however, are pretty handy for all kinds of climbing. They excel on big walls where you’re clipping into anchors, ascenders, fixed gear, and fixed ropes. They’re great for clipping into sport anchors, for getting on belay fast, for speeding up your changeovers at belay stations, and for using as a fast clip-in point for speed on long routes. Lastly, daisy chains are good for rappelling with a haul bag.

Using a Daisy Chain

Attach the daisy chain to your harness by girth-hitching it to the tie-in loop on the waist belt. Read Parts of Your Climbing Harness to identify the tie-in loop. Clip an auto-locking carabiner to the end loop on the daisy chain. Use the locking carabiner to attach the daisy chain to a gear loop on your harness while climbing and to clip yourself into anchors at the end of a pitch. Do not, however, rely on a single daisy chain as your only tie-in point to an anchor.

Create a Redundant Safety System

Safe climbing always requires creating and using redundancy in your chain of safety. Use the daisy chain to initially clip into the anchor, then tie a clove hitch (easy to tie and easy to un-tie) or a figure-8-on-a-bight in the rope to create a second tie-in point to the anchors. By doing this you have two tie-in points that connect you to the anchors and you've created a redundant safety system. Never rely on your daisy chain as a single point to connect you to your anchors. Always double up your tie-in anchoring points. After you’re clipped into the anchors with two points, pull up the slack rope and put your partner on belay.

Daisy Chains Can Be Misused

It’s very important to remember that daisy chains, which are usually used for aid climbing, can be easily misused. The pockets on a daisy chain are rated for body weight only and only for static loads. Daisy chains are not designed for or strong enough to hold falls. Use them only for anchoring yourself in, not as part of your protection and belay system. Never use your daisy chain’s pockets to equalize the anchors at a belay station because a shock load caused by a falling climber could tear the stitching at the pockets. If you need to equalize anchors, use a cordelette. Nor should you ever use your daisy chain as a runner or sling on protection; if you have to do that, use only the two opposite end pockets.

Warnings From Black Diamond Equipment

It is also extremely important that you do not use the carabiner at the end of the daisy chain to loop back and clip one of the pockets. Always use a separate carabiner to clip a pocket to an anchor. To see what happens if you misuse a daisy chain this way, check out Black Diamond Equipment’s daisy chain failure video. Black Diamond also warns on their website: “Improper use of Daisy Chains can cause severe shock loads. When clipped to an anchor (or other piece of gear) with a daisy, never climb above the anchor. In the event of a fall the daisy will not stretch, resulting in a severe shock load to you, to the anchor and to all gear in the system. This can potentially injure you and can even cause your gear or anchor to fail."

The Metolius PAS

Because of daisy chain misuse and the possibility of failure, Metolius developed their Personal Anchor System or PAS a few years ago. I highly recommend this simple daisy chain for everyday climbing, since it eliminates most of a daisy chain’s failure problems. Each PAS is made of extra-strong custom 16mm webbing, which is required since the individually sewn loops are in constant friction and contact with adjoining loops. Each loop is securely bar-tacked together. The PAS costs more than other daisy chains but the extra cost is well worth it. Of course, other gear manufacturers also make excellent daisy chains which are perfectly serviceable and safe if used correctly.

Buy a Daisy Chain:
Metolius Personal Anchor System $22.47
Black Diamond Daisy Chains $14.50-$29.95
Wild Country Dyneema 12 mm Daisy Chain $17.95
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