Tried and true anchors for setting up top ropes

I think one of the major problems for any transition-er (someone who is making the switch from indoor to outdoor climbing) is that there is a lot of different things that have no real, one size fits all answer. This is obviously different from at the gym where gyms have a code of use and will instruct you. However, in the outdoors, you should be able to make decisions and stand by them. For example: why don’t you rap off one bolt? Is this something you can answer? If not, maybe reading about redundancy can help draw your attention to why some systems work and some are unsuitable for climbing.

This is why i think it’s important to have options when it comes to climbing in general and know how to use a variety of techniques. The more stuff you know how to do, the better it will be climbing since you will be able to make tons of different maneuvers.

Here i have decided to list the most used sport climbing, two bolt, top-rope anchor set ups for climbing.

Two Draws


This is usually at a sport climbing crag the number 1 option. Why? Quick, easy, painless, redundant, no extensions, pretty hard to screw up and easy to clean without having to undo knots later.

At a sport climbing cliff, i use this set up 95% of the time because it is the best way to do it. Sometimes I will maybe use longer draws or combine draws together to try to get a nice equal anchor.

Basically, the idea is this: you take two draws and you set the opposite and opposed so that when you lower you won’t have a way to get clipped from said bolts.

The only thing i can see as being not perfect about the above set up is that they are clipped in the rap rings which would make rapping harder later due to clutter, but not impossible. Also, you want to be on the bolts most times due to just general no-extension principal.

Overhand sling


This is a really good way to set up an anchor since it is really redundant and almost impossible to get it to come undone unless you have a really bad-luck day. The steps are on but the idea is:

  1. clip a sling to both draws
  2. make a V with the sling by taking one finger and bringing it towards you (not a triangle! this can lead to death)
  3. tie an overhand with both lengths of sling you have brought towards you
  4. add some lockers and clip your rope into this

Now, the only thing is that this is not truly equalized as it cannot move in function of pull (to a certain extent). Again, in the picture i would clip to the chain link and not to the actual rings as this will make it easier to rap or clean later.

Sliding X



Here is the king of equalization: the sliding x. This is pretty easy to do, and here are my usual steps to doing this.

  1. Tie two overhand knots in a sewn loop sling so that the sling lays flat with the overhands in it (closer to the ends if possible
  2. clip two biners to the end of the sling, but make a loop-dee-loop with one of the middle pieces of sling. think of it as a 180 degree turn (see picture 2)
  3. clip rope to the biner(s)

The idea here is to let everything move freely with the direction of pull. this is better for your anchor in general as the force will be distributed on both sides.

That’s basically it!

Also: the internet is not a place to learn everything 100% since it cannot replace good guiding or teaching. it is your responsibility to get trained. Rock climbing is dangerous.


Next up: How to clean the anchors!

Related: Do I need a PAS  or a daisy chain?



  1. Using quick draws for an anchor is not recommended for three reasons. 1, The bottom carabineers are not locking, increasing the chance of them being opened. 2, They require the bolts to be right next to each other to equalize weight on both bolts ( often not the case). 3, they require the bolts to be close enough to create less than a 90 degree angle between the bolts to prevent excessive force on the bolts.


    1. actually it is a completely fine practice and used on most sport routes. obviously they should be level. obviously the bolts shouldn’t be spaced out too far. but you don’t have to top rope off lockers.


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