The quad anchor has quickly become our favorite way to equalize 2-piece anchors on multi-pitch routes like Prime Rib on Goat Wall. You can tie your cordelette into a quad configuration at the start of the day and never have to retie it both on the up and on the way down. For a route like Prime Rib that is 11 pitches long and has many, many rappels on the descent this can save a lot of time.
I recently wrote an article for Rock and Ice Magazine that explains how to set up your quad and some of the benefits of using a quad. You can find the article in the magazine or on the Rock and Ice Website.
This blog is meant to show you a way to quickly tie a quad for a 3-piece anchor. The benefits of using this system over the standard pre-equalized cordeltte is that it does a much better job of equalizing the load and if used correctly insures that your strongest piece always takes half of the force. Other anchor configurations like the pre-equalized cordelette that most people are using these days can easily put all of the weight on one piece if the direction of the load changes or the knot isn't tied perfectly. Not a big deal if all of your pieces are bomber (which should be the goal) and the direction is predictable, but that isn't always the case in the real world.
Here's how to quickly tie a 3-piece quad. First, equalize your two weakest pieces with the standard pre-equalization strategy. Tie the knot as close as you can to the pieces while still keeping the angles reasonable (as we all know, large angles increase the load on each piece).
Choosing the weakest pieces to pre-equalize gives you one huge advantage. In insures that no matter which direction the load shifts you will always have %50 of your load on your strongest piece. How do you know which one is the strongest? It's totally a guessing game, but if you have been climbing for a while you will probably know. In the example below the strongest piece is the bolt and the weaker ones are the cams behind the jugs (do you think I guessed correctly?).
Next, tie a limiting knot in the large loop you created and clip the ends of the loops into the strongest piece. Adjust the limiting knots as needed. You now have two strands to clip yourself into and two strands for your belay, just like your typical quad anchor.
If you haven't had the chance to play around with the quad anchor both in the 2-piece and 3-piece configuration I suggest you do. It can be a good tool in your bag of tricks and can make certain anchors better. Be careful while you experiment. These techniques are dangerous if used improperly. If you would like to learn more techniques contact our office and set up a day of training.