In recent years, the use of a PAS (Personal Anchoring System) has become quite common among rock climbers. A PAS is practical in situations where the ends of the climbing rope are not available because they are being used, for example, to set up a rappel, or when the climber wants to thread the rope through a fixed anchor and then be lowered to the ground.
In other situations it makes more sense to use the rope itself to secure a climber to an anchor. This system is most common when climbing up a sequence of linked pitched such as in the alpine or on a multi-pitch rock climb. The climber ties her rope into a clove hitch just beyond her tie-in and attaches it to the anchor with a locking carabiner.
Using the rope to anchor in directly is very simple and efficient. The only gear necessary is a locking carabiner. Another advantage: the system is very shock-absorbent because the rope itself is stretchy, and the hitch can also disperse energy by tightening when loaded.
Here’s how to do it:
1.) You’re already tied into the end of the rope with a figure eight follow-through.
2.) Clip a locking carabiner to the masterpoint (also often called the Powerpoint) of your anchor, with the gate facing outwards. (AKA clip and flip)
3.) Reach down the rope, give it a half twist, drop it into the locker, and repeat the same motion to drop another half twist into the locker; due to this motion, this method is called the handshake clove hitch.
4.) Lock the carabiner and you’re off belay.
The clove hitch is adjustable – you can change the distance between your tie-in and the anchor by feeding rope in or out of the hitch.
Keep the length of your attachment snug enough so that you can weight the anchor comfortably – a constant but low load on the anchor is preferable to accidentally shock-loading the anchor by having slack in your leash.
The Masterpoint can be found at the bottom of two equalized and non-extending pieces of gear. In this photo, the climber has tied a clovehitch then attached it to a locking carabiner at the Masterpoint. ©Angela Hawse