Anchors on Shore

Tying onto trees, rocks, and other objects

In whitewater and swiftwater rescue, ropes are sometimes used to haul on pinned boats or for transportation systems. Strong anchors are important.


All of the knots used for these anchors can be found on the Rescue Knots page


Why tie a load-sharing (a.k.a. multi-point) anchor?

Often, shorelines will have large enough trees or rocks that we can rely on just one anchor. If there isn’t one strong object to tie onto, we can attach two or more objects together to share the load.

Equalizing anchors – built for movement

When unpinning kayaks, canoes, or rafts, anticipate the direction of pull changing as the boat comes off. ‘Basket’, ‘simple’, and ‘multi-wrap’ (e.g. wrap 3 pull 2) anchors maintain their strength as the load moves. If using multiple points, a ‘load-sharing self-equalizing anchor’ (see diagram below) will continue to distribute the load between the anchor points.

Load Sharing Self Equalizing "Self-Protecting" Vs. Load Sharing Fixed and Focused

See the notes below the load sharing anchor diagrams for more on this.

Equipment: webbing or rope and locking carabiners

1″ tubular webbing is often used for anchors around rivers because it is strong, abrasion resistant, and cheap: better to ‘sacrifice’ a piece of webbing for an anchor around a sharp-edged rock than damage your nice rope. Low-stretch, strong rope can also be used.

A carabiner is much weaker with its gate open. Locking carabiners will not open accidentally and are therefore more secure for use in rope systems during rescues.




Use a Water Knot  to tie the webbing into a loop.Simple Anchor - Webbing



Load Sharing Anchor - Step 1

Load Sharing Anchor - Step 2


Load-Sharing, Self Equalizing Anchor Step 3


Load-Sharing, Self Equalizing Anchor Step 4

These are often called Load Sharing Self-Equalizing "Self-Protecting" Anchors. They are used in swiftwater rescue situations when it is expected that the position of the load will shift (e.g., a boat full of water moving downstream). "Self Protecting" is in quotations because, while the twist on one of the lines is meant to add protection so that the carabiner will not slip out of the system if one of the anchor points breaks, many high angle rescue riggers will point out that if in fact one anchor point does break, the other will probably be shock loaded, causing it to break as well. Therefore, for the sake of 'self-protection', it is better to use a Fixed and Focused Anchor (see below). Unfortunately, Fixed and Focused Anchors will not be able to share the load if the the posion of the load shifts drastically. Climbers often use a hybrid of the two.


Fixed and Focused anchors are used when we are not expecting the load to shift drastically in either direction, as is the case with most high angle and transportation systems (e.g., tension diagonal).

Load Sharing Anchor - Step 1

Load Sharing Anchor - Step 2


Load sharing, Fixed and Focused Anchor for Technical Rope Rescue


100% Waterproof and Tear-proof, the Whitewater Rescue Field Guide  folds up like a small map to fit easily into your PFD pocket.

Whitewater & Swiftwater Rescue : Waterproof Field Guide

More on the Field Guide here