How to Build a Climbing Anchor – Where’s the Love

There are a few things that will get you a lot of criticism on Youtube. One is trying to teach people how to filet a fish, another is how to setup a climbing top rope anchor. As I was surfing across videos to get some ideas on creative ways to set up top ropes, I noticed the massive amounts of dislikes these videos were receiving. I started to read the comments on the videos and realized that everyone is an expert when it comes to this topic! I would be terrified to share my opinion on the subject. So here goes…. haha!

So why so much hate? 

I think there are a few reasons. The first slathering of criticism comes from the group of climbers that are professionally trained in anchor building. I believe they have dealt with and seen bad things happen when people don’t know what they are doing, therefore they are sharing their opinion out of appreciation for the gravity of the situation. Some of them have been taught to adhere to strict guidelines for safety and insurance reasons, and others have learned by experience (good and bad). This group often has valid points, and their opinions should be taken into consideration.

Another group of haters are those that believe there is only one way to do something. They learned to setup a top rope one way, and anyone that does it different than them is wrong. Be wary of these folks. Don’t let them hurt you.

So when someone is hating on your video or your top rope configuration in the field, remember this. Everyone has an opinion, it’s important that you trust your gut. If you are doubting yourself, then ask yourself why and take appropriate steps to alleviate the doubt.

Here is what I think. There are 3 principles that are important in my mind. Simplicity, Redundancy, and Practice.


I believe that the more simplified a setup, the less mistakes will be made. Complex top rope setups are challenging and increase the opportunity for mistakes, especially for those with less experience.


Things break, rocks move, and we make mistakes, so redundancy in a system is crucial to counteract these things. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.


The final thing is practice. If you are nervous and unsure about what you are doing, have someone with experience double check your work. Practice with a mentor or along side friends that are willing to teach you how to stay safe before you go it alone.


Now that you have my 2 cents, here are some videos that I thought did a great job of actually teaching about some of the elements of top rope setups. Remember that every climb is different, some have large trees, some have bolts, while others have very little options for top rope setup, so the environment around you and your gear will determine greatly the choices you make.

Enjoy the videos and if they helped you in anyway, spread the love to their creators!






Author – Dan McCreight

If you have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks for reading!