You've built a top-rope anchor system on top of a cliff at Carderock in Maryland or The Ironclads near Boulder. You've placed both primary and secondary anchors, placing cams and tying off a tree and a boulder. You've equalized them all above the master point where the climbing rope is attached to the anchor system with a locking carabiner.
Check Your Anchor System
Now you need to check the anchor system to make sure it's safe, secure, and correctly built. Use SECURE safety criteria to evaluate the anchor and make any necessary safety corrections before you use it.
Use SECURE to Evaluate Anchors
Use the acronym SECURE to evaluate the strength and reliability of your top-rope anchor:
- Is the anchor STRONG enough?
- Is the anchor EXTENDED over the cliff's edge?
- Is the anchor CENTERED above your intended route?
- Is the master point (the carabiner connection between your rope and anchor) an UNBROKEN ring of metal?
- Does the rope RUN easily through the unbroken ring of two carabiners?
- Is the rope below the cliff EDGE so it doesn't abrade or cut?
Use SECURE Then Test the Anchor
If your top-rope anchor meets all the criteria of SECURE and you can answer "Yes!" to all the questions, then your anchor is a keeper. First though, you can test it by having a climber on the ground tie into the rope and climb a few feet up with a belay, then weight the rope and lower down.
Your Safety is a Perfect Anchor
If your anchor doesn't completely meet the SECURE safety criteria, then reevaluate it, figure out any problems, and re-rig it. Your safety and your life depend on a safe anchor. Check and double check it. Now you're ready to go climbing!