Photo Credits

Climbers Start Up the Spearhead

Young woman belaying her partner low on the North Ridge of the Spearhead (III 5.6) in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

© Forest Woodward :

Daisy Chain Dangers With Video

daisy chain potentially hazardousDaisy chains are not intended for use as personal safety tethers or to anchor youself at a belay. This improper use is quite dangerous, but many climbers persist in this approach.  Using daisy chains as a tether or belay anchor presents multiple hazards including low single-pocket strength and the ability to fail completely if the pockets are clipped incorrectly. In addition, daisy chains, like any runner, can fail completely (or cause internal injuries due to the shock of the fall) if there is any slack in the system and the climber takes a short fall. By short fall I mean less than one foot onto a Spectra (Dyneema) daisy chain.

What are the alternatives? The best way to anchor yourself on a multi-pitch climb is to tie into the anchor's master point with your climbing rope. The rope is strong and its elasticity can absorb some shock of a small fall. Need a tether for rappelling, setting top rope anchors, or cleaning sport anchors? OSI recommends the Purcell Prusik (which you make yourself with a length of cord) or the Sterling Chain Reactor. We’ll come back to those two options at the end of the article.

The video below is a couple of years old and comes from one of Kolin Powick’s great QC Lab posts on the Black Diamond Journal. The video is a must watch for any climber to understand an inherent risk of daisy chains—even if it is just so you can explain this to your friends. The original post is here and includes some more daisy chains do's and don'ts.

Purcell PrusikWhy do we like the Purcell Prusik at OSI? First of all it is convenient and inexpensive. Mostly we like it because absorbs more shock in case you slip off a ledge. Still, if you’re anchoring yourself to belay off your harness, back it up by tying in with your rope. Visit OSI's post on how to tie one»

sterling rope chain reactorSecond choice is the Sterling Rope Chain Reactor, which we like for it’s full strength loops and the fact that it is made of nylon webbing. While a little heavier and bulkier than similar spectra offerings, nylon will stretch to absorb a little more fall force. Buy it now on»

Read our comprehensive tether safety article»
Learn 4 key safety tips, view drop testing video & more.

Orange Daisy Chain Image by flickr/iwona_kellie

Posted by

Alex Kosseff

on 5/9/12
Field SafetyTools & ToysResource


Rock & Ice has a new article by Duane Raleigh on the dangers associated with short, static falls. Just be aware that the captions on the illustrations are accidentally reversed-you don’t want to fall onto your tether, but rather onto your rope!

By Alex Kosseff on 02/04/2013 at 11:31 AM

Speak Your Mind

Non-member comments moderated before posting. No spam or unrelated links please. Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.
Articles by Category
Free Resources

10 Steps to Better Risk Management - Free DownloadNew! 10 Steps to Better Risk Management - learn quick safety steps for your program. Download free guide. Go»

OSI Newsletter Icon - Signup for OSI's Free Email NewsletterThe Outdoor Safety Newsletter covers risk management for outdoor activities. Go»

Facebook Outdoor SafetyLike OSI on Facebook for current news & discussion on wilderness risk management. Go»

By OSI's Alex Kosseff AMC Guide to Outdoor Leadership, 2nd Ed AMC Guide to Outdoor Leadership
5 Star Rating
Learn More»

© Outdoor Safety Institute LLC • Terms of Use & Privacy PolicyContact Us