ropecraft: tensionless anchors

As I wrote in my “about” page, I used to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie in my youth. One of my pastimes was rock climbing and rappelling. I’ve top roped, lead climbs, slack jumped, Australian rappelled, body rappelled, prusik ascended standing lines…the works. I no longer have the time, friends available or carefree lifestyle to do much of that anymore. I have sold off most of my climbing gear, leaving only enough to rappel if necessary or do a top rope climb. However, I do still enjoy reading and writing about the technical aspects of ropecraft, so every once and a while I will submit a tidbit of ropecraft knowledge.


Tensionless Anchors: Rigging in this fashion uses rope friction around an object to secure the load. This is one of the strongest riggings. It uses almost 100% of the ropes srtength.

As a knot or any tight bend in the rope reduces it’s load bearing strength by a known percentage, the tensionless anchor avoids strength loss by wrapping the line around an anchor such as this tree. In theory, enough wraps would hold the rope in place without being permanently tied to the object…that of course would be stupid, so the rope is tied off to an object to prevent unwrapping.


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relics from the past found in my nightstand drawer


For a long time I have had the habit of maintaining notebooks. I think it started in my middle school years when the “ninja craze” was just heating up and I became fascinated with military and martial arts “stuff”. I used to fill them with “reference materials” lifted from books, magazines and military manuals. I would diligently copy information about poisonous plants, L-shaped ambushes and how to “take out” enemy sentries into these “little black books”. I always enjoyed the fantasy of finding some secret knowledge in a dusty book found buried in a corner of a library or under a pile of old magazines in a second hand bookstore and in hindsight perhaps this is a manifestation of that. Or perhaps this is one of the side effects of living out in the styx with no girls to chase or friends to play ball with.

As the years went by I would write short “posts” about my thoughts into these books. I recently came across a stack of these black, hardbound “blank books” in my nightstand drawer under a pile of holsters, old badges, military paraphernalia and Army FM’s.The most recent one has entries from when I was deployed to Bosnia Herzegovina. A passage I found in it says:

When I purchased this blank book I did so with the intention of writing my beliefs and ideas in it and through that process learn something about myself. Now that I have started I don’t really know what it is that I believe, I’ve read many books about ancient and modern philosophies, religions, psychology and myth but in the end I cannot determine if any of them have changed or influenced  who I am or if I just took from them what I always believed.

I guess that my current life view is similar to the eastern concept of the Tao. We all think of ourselves in individual terms…separate from each other and from the rest of the world. I tend to think of our existence as being manifestations of the same “reality”. From a college philosophy class, I remember watching a film where Joseph Campbell made an analogy to a light bulb. The bulb is a vessel for light, when the switch is thrown it illuminates. When it is turned off the light vanishes but the energy..the “potential” is still “out there”. Do you identify with the “bulb”…your physical manifestation? Or do you identify with “the light”? That same current that runs through all of our “bulbs”? When our “light” goes out the energy doesn’t “go” anywhere because it never really “came” in the first place. We are just material manifestations that come and go.

I’m realizing that there is going to be a rambling quality to this writing endeavor, but I’m going to just let that go…it’s funny how I’m sitting here spouting off all this highminded stuff but inside I know that I can be just as jealous, insecure, hesitating and brooding as the next guy…

…All my life I’ve wanted to be a “good soldier”. I’ve read comics and books about war. I’ve watched countless action movies. Under it all there’s a part of me that wants to prove something to myself. I’ve jumped out of planes, climbed cliffs and done some “stupid dangerous” things. I’m still not certain if I did these things for enjoyment or simply to spit in the face of my own insecurities. Either way I did enjoy the adventure and in the end it has lead my life in a direction that I find fulfillment in….”

I wont belabor you with the rest…the reason I even bring this stuff up is because, when I think of it, blogging can be much the same sort of thing as this journal writing. By posting things that interest you and through writing about things that you believe in you start to reach a “critical mass” of posts that can become a “snapshot” of your “self”.

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