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Sliding X (aka Death X)

 Sliding X (aka Death X)

by Editor

March 18, 2003

Republished with permission of the American Safe Climbing Association.

Many climbers use a "sliding X" to equalize two pieces - ususally beginner climbers with bolt anchors. You should NEVER use this except in two specialized cases (see below). While the sliding X does equalize the pieces, it assumes that neither could break, since if one does break, there is severe extension in the system - enough that it would likely cause the carabiners to break. Since it assumes neither piece would break, it's a stupid system - if neither would break, there's no need for equalization. If one might break, then there is WAY too much extension. This is why many call it the "death X." Instead, use one sling off of each bolt or piece. You can tie one shorter to approximately equalize the pieces if needed.

The two cases where the sliding X is used:

  • Equalizing tenuous pieces in a larger anchor - for instance, two poor nuts in a large natural pro anchor. The nuts are equalized, then the sliding X is equalized with other pieces through a cordelette, webolette, or other non-extending method.
  • Equalizing two very tenuous pieces in extreme aid - for instance, a hook and a bashie on A4 terrain.

Camp4 Editors Note- If you do have to use this system, make sure you make the twist in the sling before clipping the caribiner (see image above). If you don't and one of the anchors fail, the WHOLE SYSTEM WILL FAIL.

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