A Personal Anchor System (PAS) is a series of very short sewn slings connected in a chain-link-style. They are designed as an idiot-proof anchor attachment. Once girth hitched to your harness, any part of the PAS can be clipped to an anchor to provide a full strength attachment.
Attaching to the Anchor
It’s only safe to attach yourself to an anchor with a sling or a PAS if you won’t be moving above it (such as when setting up an abseil).
If you fall when above an anchor (even if you are only a meter above), unusually large forces will be generated. This is because slings do not absorb much energy – think of it as similar to falling when attached to a length of steel cable. You can damage internal organs with just a 10kN force – falling onto a sling directly is likely to be much higher than this. It could also break the sling, or the anchor. If there is any chance that you will move sideways or above the anchor, make sure to attach to it with the rope.
Daisy chains look and function in a similar way to the PAS, but they are only full strength when clipped end-to-end. The stitching between loops on daisy chains is very low strength.
If you connect to an anchor by clipping a carabiner through two consecutive loops, the stitching could break, causing you to become completely detached from the anchor.
Adjustable daisy chains are not full strength (usually rated to around 5kN) and should never be used as your primary anchor attachment.
What is it: A way to attach a piece of cord to a (thicker) climbing rope. The main use is to back up your rappel device . You can also use a prusik as a way to ascend a rope (if you don’t have a mechanical ascender). There are also a multitude of uses for self-rescue and escaping belays.
Why it’s cool: Easy to tie and untie, and may come in handy more than you’d think. With two prusiks, you can ascend a fixed line, potentially getting yourself out of a pickle.
Red flags / Rules: Make sure the loops/coils are neat. The prusik is a useful friction hitch that slides freely when not weighted, but bites down on the rope when you do weight it. Many variations on the prusik exist, including the auto block and klemheist, but for simplicity we’ll stick with the prusik. You can learn the other hitches down the road. The most common use for the prusik is to back up your rappel device by tying a prusik on the rope below the device. (Details on that technique are covered in the section on rappelling.)
Two prusiks placed on a rope and clipped to your harness with long runners let you climb the rope by alternately weighting and unweighting the prusiks, inchworm style. This technique is a lifesaver when you fall on an overhanging route and are stranded in space, unable to get onto the rock. Even one prusik on a rope is a good handhold, letting you boost yourself past an impossible move.
To tie a prusik, use 4 to 6 mm perlon cord tied into a 12-inch (30 cm) loop with a ring bend. Thinner cord grips better than thick cord, and shoelaces will work in an emergency. Wrap the loop three or more times around the rope until it bites well enough not to slip. Webbing works in an emergency, but requires more wraps to grip, and is more difficult to loosen and slide.
TAG IT, BAG IT!“My ropes have a definite life cycle: First use is for the mountains or ice climbing while the dry treatment is fresh. Afterward, a rope becomes my cragging cord. Occasionally, I may have to shorten a rope due to repeated falls, careless crampons or wayward rocks, ending up with at least four ropes to keep track of. A small labeler, the kind that prints out plastic messages, can be bought at any office-supply store and offers a quick organizational solution. The plastic labels, which I wrap around the ends of the rope, are surprisingly strong. I’ll print the rope’s length, where it has been used, my name and address, or even inspirational sayings or safety reminders. Also, if I have to cut a rope, I always re-mark the middle with a bit of athletic tape, applied with the rope under body weight. Once the rope is unweighted, the tape really sets into place”. — Conrad Anker, Bozeman, Montana