From self rescue to building anchors, the cordelett is an indispensable tool. Typically a 7mm piece of 15 to 20 foot cord (from a climbing store) is all you need. Tie it together so you have one big loop and you can construct almost any anchor. Many use a double or even triple fisherman’s to tie the cord together, while this does work it limits some of the utility of the cord. Tying it together with a simple overhand allows you to easily untie it and use the full length of the cord.
Getting the master point in the correct position, especially on multi-pitch climbs makes belaying easier, transitions more efficient, and the belay stance more organized. A good rule of thumb is to have the master point at about chest level. Sometimes we need our cord to be very short and sometimes as long as possible to get it in the correct position.
Here are three very easy, fast, efficient, and safe ways to tie an equalized cordelett at a belay:
Three piece anchor with a simple figure eight to create the master point.
Here is the same anchor but with a shortened cord to raise the master point. (Tie a figure eight but then keep making more wraps until it’s short enough and finish like you would a normal figure eight).
Lastly, an untied cord, in full extension mode with figure eights tied in the end of each strand. Clip the two figure eights to the two outside pieces. The middle of the cord gets clipped to the middle piece, pull down and tie as normal.
A few safety tips:
If you tie your cord together with an overhand, have at least 2 fists of tail (6 to 8 inches). Dress and tighten the overhand really well. Double check the knot and tighten before every use.
To isolate the overhand knot, you can tie a clove hitch near the overhand, usually on the highest piece of gear. This can also make equalization a bit easier.
As always there are many more tricks, uses, and materials for a cordelett. Practice these techniques and add them to your bag of tools for anchor building. Knowing what to do and how to lengthen or shorten your anchor will make your climbing safer and more enjoyable!