Anchor Safety

Essential information for users of resin anchors.

Resin anchors are intended for use by experienced cavers only who have understood the pre-use inspection requirements below, who appreciate the importance of fall factors and backup belays and who know how to use the anchors to rig safely avoiding rope rub and other pitch hazards.

BEFORE your trip; check for any specific warnings on the CNCC website for your chosen cave.

REMEMBER: Absence of any warnings does not negate the need for the checks below.

DURING your trip CHECK the anchors before use; Cavers must perform a pre-use inspection of all resin anchors: Twist the anchor using the fingers, while observing any movement. Slight flexing or rotational movement (+/-1mm) of the anchor, as long as there is no egress of the anchor or resin from the hole, is acceptable but any more and the anchor should not be used.

The following points should also be checked before using or loading any anchors:

  • Looseness of the rock in which the anchor is placed.
  • Fractures in the rock within approximately 20cm of the anchor.
  • Grooves or abrasion inside the curvature of the anchor.
  • Obvious damage to the anchor or placement (e.g. from rock fall).
  • Excessive rotation of the resin within the drilled hole, or egress of the resin.
  • Rotation of the anchor within the resin, or egress of the anchor from the resin.

NEVER use any anchors which, based on the pre-use inspection, you are not confident in.

REPORT any anchors which you have concerns about to the CNCC as soon as possible (click here).

ALWAYS rig caves to consider possible points of failure; ALWAYS ensure more than one anchor is used in any rigging; where possible use Y-hangs at pitch heads to spread the load directly across two or more anchors to minimise fall factors in the event of a single anchor failure, and always include at least one (ideally more) anchor (or naturals) as backup away from the pitch head (i.e. in a distant piece of rock to negate the risk of failure of the limestone).

NEVER assume an anchor indicates a safe descent can be made from there without rope rub or exposure to water; it is entirely for the experienced rigger to plan your route and ensure anchors are used in such a way as to achieve a descent free from hazards such as rope rub and falling water.

Finally, all resin anchors users are advised to familiarise themselves with the warning below issued by the CNCC Technical Group regarding the use of low or ground-level positioned anchors.

CNCC Anchor Warning

Anchor warning

In certain locations is has been necessary to locate the anchor placement low or at ground level. This is due to the geological constraints of the entrance, cave passage or pitch head. e.g. Rowten Pot entrance pitch, Cow Pot entrance pitch, Juniper Gulf entrance pitch at the north end, Pillar Holes.

When an anchor is clipped into at ground level, and progression to the entrance drop is made by keeping low. It is possible for the attachment krabiner to become detached from the anchor. Anchors that have been placed below waist height on traverses may produce a similar result. See photo.

When using anchors placed in rock at ground level or anchors that have not been placed correctly on traverses e.g. too low and the wrong alignment. Certain extra precautions need to be observed.

  1. Always clip up and through the anchor so that the karabiner gate is on the outside
  2. While manoeuvring, watch the attachment krab.
  3. Always have captive karabiners on cows tails/safety loops
  4. If possible, ensure that you have two safety devices connected. (due to the embedment depth of the Eco anchor it may not be possible to insert two karabiners and a rope. An alternative may be to tie the rope directly into the anchor and clip the rope loop).
  5. Consider using screwgate or twist gate krabs on safety loops/Cows tails.
  6. When belaying/top roping etc. where there is a necessity to move around, it may be desirable to tie into the anchor.
    If rigged, clip into the rope and not the anchor.