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If you're on a multi pitch route and you decide to abandon the climb and retreat(say the weather has turned unexpectedly). What is the minimum amount of gear you should leave behind as a rope anchor to effect a successful and safe retreat (abseil)?

Could cord be used as a sling over a sturdy flake or would you need to leave behind proper slings (nylon or dyneema), nuts or worse yet expensive camming devices?

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I know you're aiming at somewhat of an "emergency" scenario however I thought I would share: "The guys that introduced me to climbing outdoors stressed never to get in the habit of leaving gear behind...and if you MUST, leave as little as possible – AM_Hawk Jan 10 '14 at 21:11
@AM_Hawk: If you try too hard to avoid leaving gear behind, you risk ending up having a writeup in the next year's Accidents in North American Mountaineering. A cam is $50 and can be replaced. Your life can't be replaced. – Ben Crowell Jan 12 '14 at 20:07
@BenCrowell My comment was aimed at any scenario other than an EMERGENCY. – AM_Hawk Jan 12 '14 at 20:18
@Mr.Wizard I think we can all agree, an EMERGENCY is an EMERGENCY. You do whatever is necessary! I think you need to reread my comment, "other than an emergency", how does that not make sense to you? To sum all my comments up, what I was trying to get across is: "Don't leave gear behind, if you have to leave as little as possible and if there is an emergency used anything and everything that will help you get to safety as soon as possible!" – AM_Hawk Jan 13 '14 at 11:26
@Liam When first learning to multi-pitch climb, it is very important to: climb with more experienced people, read books on the subject, and take a training licensed course (which you can find a places like universities, the Sierra Club, and REI). – theJollySin Jan 13 '14 at 17:19

You leave behind gear sufficient to create a rappel anchor that is strong enough for any conceivable load that may be placed upon it. This is no different from any other properly constructed rappel anchor, the specifics of which vary with the placement and circumstance.

The only situation I can conceive that one would have to violate this rule is in a true emergency where you lack sufficient gear to safely complete the rappel, yet if you remain you have greater risk of death by exposure, fire, etc. Since you are asking about "nuts or worse yet expensive camming devices" this does not appear to be the case you are inquiring about. You value your life more than your SLCDs I hope.

The fact that you are asking this question leads me to believe that you are not sufficiently experienced with building anchors. Also, "Could cord be used as a sling ...?" leads me to believe you are not even familiar with the capability of your gear, and/or you do not know how to use it properly. Please seek professional instruction from a properly certified guide if you have any doubt.

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