Building belays during traditional climbing and mountaineering will very often involve equalising slings.
Most often, I use the Figure of Eight or Overhand Knot method. To do this, you tension all the strands by pulling them in the direction of the expected load. Then you grasp all the strands and tie them together into a large Figure of Eight knot on the bight. You can also use an Overhand Knot on the bight. This is the first technique shown in this video and in the photograph below.
However, there seems to be something special that occurs in winter whereby the distances and lengths involved rarely allow this method to work. It’s vital, therefore, to know other methods of equalising slings at a belay.
There are several other methods of equalising slings, but two of the most well-known that I find come in handy in winter are these ones, because they need very little of the sling’s length to create. The first involves tying a loose overhand knot in the sling before clipping the second anchor and then adjusting this to create two equally tensioned loops. You can also this in the video.
A further method involves tying a clove hitch in the sling at the correct point of tension and clipping a large karabiner into this clove hitch. You then lock this karabiner and use it as the main ‘power point’ and clip other karabiners into as necessary. The first the karabiner has now effectively replaced the closed loop in the sling shown in the first photograph. You can see this in the photograph below. Notice that the karabiner has the correct orientation once this is finished.
All of these techniques for equalising slings are usually covered at relevant points in one of our rock-climbing courses. One of our other tips shows you an effective way of carrying slings during the actual climbing.