Equalising Trad Anchors Using Slings

The second article in our Trad Climbing Skills Series is on how we join pieces of protection together using a sling.


Now, the method of “Equalising a Sling” can be used not only in a belay set up for Trad Lead Climbing but also rigging Top and Bottom Rope climbs or Abseils.


When constructing a belay for any scenario you may wish to join pieces of protection together to reduce the amount of points you would need to connect either your climbing rope if in a lead climbing scenario or rigging rope to if setting up top ropes. We achieve this by joining pieces of protection together using a sling.

Our previous article on Attaching To Trad Climbing Anchors has details on this.


The acronym IDEAS below is great for constructing belays or rope rigging


I - Independent - Are the anchors independent of each other

D - Directional - Are the anchors being pulled in the direction of load

E - Equalised - Is there equal load on each of the anchors

A - Angle - We ideally want the angle of the sling to be below 90 degrees

S - Safe - Are the anchors correctly placed and carabiners done up

The first method we are going to look at is joining two pieces of protection together using a figure 8 or overhand knot to create a central point.


  1. Clip the sling through the first carabiner.

  2. Clip another part of the sling to the second carabiner.

  3. Pull down on both strands using a finger or thumb and ensure you pull in the direct the anchors will get loaded.

  4. Ensuring you keep the loading point of the sling with your thumb and grab the strands of sling above with your other hand.

  5. Keep the sling tensioned in the direction of pull, tie a figure of 8 or overhand knot.

  6. Test that the anchors are loaded equally in the correct direction.

  7. Place a carabiner through this central point.

  8. You can now attach your rope to this carabiner and attach accordingly to it dependent on what scenario you are in (covered in previous blog).

  9. Picture 9 shows the system correctly loaded in the direct of pull.

  10. When using this method it gives you a central point which you can safely attach too as mentioned above. There is also another power point you can attach to which is attaching above the knot as shown by the red carabiner in picture 10.

Top Tip, if you are attaching to the power point above the knot (red Carabiner in pic 10) you must make sure the loop below the knot is of a sufficient size or leave a carabiner in the loop to stop the loop pulling through under high loads. This problem usually occurs in multi-pitch scenarios once the lead climber has left the belay stance where the lead climber was attached to the central loop and the seconds were attach to the power point above the knot.

You must ensure that you individually clip each strand running to each piece of protection to ensure if either piece fails that remaining piece is not shock loaded.

The second method we are going to look at of joining two pieces of protection together is using an overhand knot.


  1. Clip the sling through the first carabiner.

  2. Clip another part of the sling to the second carabiner and pull down on both strands to the desired load position using a finger or thumb.

  3. Whilst holding the loading point, unclip the sling from the closest carabiner.

  4. Now tie an overhand knot leaving it slack on the loading point.

  5. Leaving the knot slack means you can adjust easily.

  6. Now you can re-clip the tail end of the sling back into the carabiner.

  7. It should look like this.

  8. Adjust the knot to re-find the loading point you had before.

  9. Now you can clip a carabiner through both strands of the sling above the overhand knot. The carabiner must be attached to the correct parts of the sling to avoid shock loading if any gear was to fail.

  10. You can now attach your rope to this carabiner and attach accordingly to it dependent on what scenario you are in.

Top Tip, this method is really good for when you are just starting out with equalising protection as its very easy to adjust. Whereas the first method we covered if you get the load point wrong you have to untie and re-tie again until its correctly loaded.

The third method of joining two pieces of protection together we are going to look at is using clove hitches with an overhand knot to create a central point.


  1. On the first carabiner make a clove hitch.

  2. Introducing some slack tie another clove hitch on the second carbiner.

  3. There should be an element of slack in-between the two clove hitches as shown.

  4. Pull the remaining strands from each carabiner down to find the loading point and tie an overhand knot.

  5. You can now attach your rope to this carabiner and attach accordingly to it dependent on what scenario you are in.

Top Tip, when tying the clove hitches get the tape/join of the sling in-between like shown in photo 3. This way it won't be in the way when creating the central point.

This method is good on quite spaced out pieces of gear as it only uses a single strand so you get more sling to use.


Unlike the other methods above you CAN NOT clip above the knot as if either piece of protection fails the carabiner would slide and shock load the remaining protection.

We are now going to look at two methods of joining 3 pieces of protection together.

The First method we are going to look at is figure 8 or overhand knot to create a central point.


  1. Clip a strand of the sling through all 3 carabiners.

  2. Pinch the sling below the middle carabiner.

  3. Pull down on the four strands of sling.

  4. Continue pulling down on all 4 strands of sling.

  5. Pull down on all strands using a finger or thumb and ensure you pull in the direct the anchors will get loaded.

  6. Ensuring you keep the loading point on the sling with your thumb and grab the sling above with your other hand.

  7. Keep the anchors tensioned in the direction of pull and tie a figure of 8 or overhand knot.

  8. Test that the anchors are loaded in the correct direction.

  9. You can now attach your rope to this carabiner and attach accordingly to it dependent on what scenario you are in.

  10. With this method you have created a central point and a power point above the knot which you safely attached too. You must ensure you capture a strand of sling from each carabiner if clipping above the knot. Like above, you must ensure the loop can't pull through if you clip above the knot.

  11. Carabiner correctly clipped for using the power point above the knot.

The second method we are going to look at using 3 pieces of protection is a mixture of the clove hitch method and the figure 8/overhand knot method.


  1. On the first carabiner make a clove hitch.

  2. Introducing some slack tie another clove hitch on the second carabiner. There should be an element of slack in-between the two clove hitches as shown.

  3. Clip the sling into the third carabiner and start to pull down.

  4. Pull the sling down until you reach the loading point you desire.

  5. Ensuring you keep the loading point on the sling with your thumb and grab the sling above with your other hand.

  6. Keep the anchors tensioned in the direction of pull and tie a figure of 8 or overhand knot.

  7. You can now attach your rope to this carabiner and attach accordingly to it dependent on what scenario you are in.

  8. With this method you have created a central point and a power point above the knot which you safely attached too. You must ensure you capture a strand of sling from each carabiner.

There are a few other ways of using slings with pieces of protection like the Sliding X method and using a clove hitch instead of tying figure 8/overhand knots. The above methods are a great starting place if new to Trad climbing or looking to refresh the basic skills.

If you have any questions on any of the methods above then please do get in touch with us.


To learn the skills covered above with a qualified instructor please see either our Rock Climbing Courses or drop us an email.


Association Of Mountaineering Instructors

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