Mind the Carabiner Gate There Ice Climber

Grivel-360-Ice-Screw Crank Opening Gate of Carabiner
Oops! Check out what can happen if the crank handle on our Grivel 360 ice screw whips around into the gate of the carabiner we’ve got clipped into our ice screw. Kinda scary, eh? Yeah, I thought so too. The screw crank has cleverly opened the carabiner gate! Yikes! Don’t want to be taking a whipper on that thing, that’s for sure.

Here’s a close up for greater horrorshow.

Grivel-360-Ice Screw Close-up

Grivel-360-Ice Screw-Crank Close-up

My buddy Terry Brenneman took these photos while cleaning an ice climbing lead in the lower Ouray Ice Park. Before you freak out, assuming you climb with Grivel 360 ice screws, Terry suggests this might have been an early design flaw that’s since been remedied. “All my other Grivel 360s have a crank handle pivot which binds throughout its range and doesn’t flop around (see photo below),” he noted.


Current Grivel-360-Crank-Design left, Scary version on right.

As you can see, the current 360 (on the left) has this triangular bend in the crank handle wire to keep it from flopping about. The Grivel 360 Jive-Ass Edition® (on the right) doesn’t have it. It’s got some other sort of wire bend at the end.

Terry explains, “I suspect the rogue screw is an obsolete desipgn which made it onto the retail floor (purchased around 2007 but it was a good deal!). Don’t need this false protection jive-assery on my rack.” And how!

Something to keep an eye out for. Has anyone had something like this happen?

Climb safe out there kids. Ice climbing is hazardous!

Location: Ouray Ice Park, Ouray, Colorado, USA



Lara Croft is an Ice Climber Now

Lara Croft is an Ice Climber Now

Lara Croft: Bow Shooting Ice Climber

I saw this large display ad for a new version of Tomb Raider while shopping over the weekend, and I just can’t help but to share it with you all. Check out those fancy ice climbing tools! Apparently Lara Croft is an ice climber now. She’s kicking ass and taking names, with her flare, and her bow and arrow, and her ice tools, which appear to be DMM Rebels, and both of which has an adze and neither of which has a hammer. Is she afraid of gashing her face open with an adze if one of those tools pops loose? Heck no. She’s totally that confident. Do you see a harness anywhere? No. You do not. Lara Croft free solos everything, always, because she’s a total freakin’ badass. She’s the Alex Honnold of ice.

What’s that? Where’s her helment you ask? Pshaw! Give me a break. She doesn’t even wear gloves! Of course the way that second tool dangles from her belt by the pommel with the pick swinging about at her knee marks her as a total NOOB. We’ll forgive her for that though, because shooting a bow and arrow while “on the sharp end” isn’t exactly easy. She deserves a lot of credit for that. Heck, I wouldn’t even try.

Actually, looking at some screen grabs from the game, Lara is a much more sane ice climber than the display ad suggests. Look at the image below. She’s got a harness, and a rope, and if you look closely, also a few ice screws. Of course why she’s tied to that other climber suicide-pact style with a 30mm container ship mooring rope is certainly a valid question. It looks like she’s about to take a whipper and I doubt that that other climber can hold the fall. It probably helps, in a situation like that, to have extra lives.

Lara Croft Suicide Pact.

Lara Croft Suicide Pact.

Lara Croft Carries Ice Screws.

Lara Croft Carries Ice Screws.

Location: Your XBOX, apparently.

Update: Sept. 29, 2015

Special thanks to Eddie Ferrer for sharing this Tomb Raider game demo YouTube Video, where Lara, with the climbing rope attached to a gear loop on her harness, takes a factor 2 fall onto the other climber who is not anchored, but merely attached to the ice with is tools. Awesome!

Is that a Horseshoe Nail?


Old Bolt on Pitch 5

Old “bolts” on The Fine Line?

What the heck is that little piece of pig iron sticking out of the rock? Topher Dabrowski, who submitted these photos, says that he’d heard that there are some very “old bolts” on the upper pitches of The Fine Line, in Idaho’s Sawtooth Range. This is what he encountered. Want a better shot? Hey, no problem. Look at thisCable Swagged Horseshoe Nail

Where exactly does one procure a cable-swagged horseshoe nail? That’s what this is, isn’t it? A horseshoe nail, with a hole drilled into it, with a cable added? No? Then you tell me what it is. It’s certainly not your standard piton, and despite what Topher was told, it’s definitely not a bolt!  My guess is that it’s probably homemade and quite old. I don’t think I’d like to fall on it.

And how about that pitch 7, eh? With some scary angle aluminum riveted to the rock, sticking out half an inch to invite your rope to a good old fashioned sheath stripping.

Scary rivet thingy want's to slice your rope.

Scary rivet thingy want’s to slice your rope.

How about a close up, so you can re-live that scary rock climbing lead moment if you like.

Scary Rivet Close Up

Scary Rivet Close Up

That also looks very, very old. Did Fred Beckey place this? Greg or Jeff Lowe? I think it’s served its time.

And hey, just for good measure since Topher was in the Sawtooths, how about some scary Leeper hangers from The Elephant’s Perch? We last encountered some of these at Indian Creek in Moab, Utah. Remember? Those hangers were recalled because they tend to break, remember?

Leepers on The Perch

Scary Leeper Hangers.

Be careful rock climbing out there kids, and support your local rebolting projects.

Location: The Sawtooth Range, Idaho, USA.


Jive-Assery at Castle Rock State Park

Two Quick Draws to Top Rope Climbing Anchor
“Hmmm. I’ve slung all my shit together but the rope doesn’t quite make it to the edge. Dang! I wish there was a way I could extend the dyneema sling I tied off short to my quick draws…”

Imaginary conversation. I often construct these sorts of conversations when I encounter a jive-ass rock climbing anchor in an attempt to put myself into the head of the person who constructed it. This is the narrative that came to mind in this case. Why couldn’t this be extended just another few inches? I see no reason. And while we’re at it, who top ropes through a pair of rappel rings?  Where they worried about wearing grooves in those quick draw biners? How long are they planning to top rope here?

This Jive-Ass rock climbing top rope anchor was digitally captured in the wild by Devin Prouty at Goat Rock in Castle Rock State Park in California’s Bay Area. Devin says there are frequently J.A.A.s to be found there.  But wait, we’re not done with this one yet. There is more jive-assery. Usually I start at terra firma and work my way to the powerpoint, but today let’s work in the other direction. So here’s the bit that comes next.

Girth Hitched Soft Goods, because Carabiners are Very Expensive.

Girth Hitched Soft Goods, because Carabiners are Rare and Expensive.

Are soft goods girth hitched directly to soft goods? Yes. Yes they are. We’ve discussed this problem many times, for instance, here and here and here. Despite covering this topic over and over again the practice apparently continues, which shows what a fat lot of good this blog is doing!

I know you’re looking at those two slings stretched into those two locking carabiners. Wait for it…

Two lockers here, none at the next link in the system.

Two lockers here, none at the next link in the system.

—and here they are! Question #1 from yours truly: hey, I see you have not one but two locking carabiners there at that connection point in your fancy anchor system, but you don’t have any carabiners at the next connection point. I appreciate the extra redundancy here and all, but if you’re short on biners you might have…um…moved one of these lockers to that jive-ass girth hitch point.

Weird side loading on those lockers due to slings pulling at opposite angles? Maybe so. I don’t know how those things are attached to planet earth. Certainly not ideal.

I do want to make an announcement though. Some people on various climbing forums, the climbing sub-Reddit, etc. will occasionally wag their virtual finger, insisting that people should not be photographing jive-ass anchors to post on a blog for our fun and entertainment. No, instead, they should be instructing and correcting the fabricators of said jive-ass anchors so that they might mend their jive-ass ways, become enlightened, and climb safely in the future. Point well taken, even if it takes earnestness to a level that threatens to suck just a little bit of joy out of life. These people are correct, of course. We should all take the initiative to point out unsafe aspects of the climbing anchors we see in order to keep others from harms way. It’s the right thing to do.

To that end, I want you all to know that Devin was a good Samaritan. He informed the party responsible for this anchor about some of the jive-ass-pects of their anchor. Now you have to be delicate about this, because we climbers are a bunch of know-it-alls and we don’t always take criticism well. One might suffer a punch in the nose, or at the very least some scornful looks when one tries, ever so delicately and diplomatically, to tell a person that his or her climbing anchor may not be up to snuff. Devin reports that this party untied a sling (the dyneema one near the powerpoint I suspect) so that the rap rings at lest hung over the lip. They also offered some excuses about expecting to be able to use non-existent bolts.

Here is what we can’t see, according to Devin: “the green and blue/white sling are girth hitched to several other short slings that are run around a large mushroom of rock at the top of the cliff.” Oh my…

Location: Castle Rock State Park, California, USA

Model Belay Station

Rat's Nest Belay Anchor

Rat’s Nest Belay Anchor

Ever since the photo above was sent to me I’ve been having this recurring nightmare. In my dream I’m seconding a route. For some reason we’re using two fatty single ropes like a set of half ropes. I get up to the belay station and I see that my belayer is belaying me off of this…thing. My heart leaps. I am very afraid. I want to say “What the fuck, dude?” but before the words can leave my mouth the whole works comes undone and we both fall to our deaths.

What the hell am I looking at here? I am completely dumbfounded by this “belay anchor”.  I’m not sure where it starts and where it ends, or how it might have been constructed, or why. What sequence of events and chain of causes lead a human being to knit this rat’s nest together?  Were psychedelic drugs involved?

This anchor is from Little Cottonwood Canyon just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. The person who submitted the photo wishes to remain anonymous to protect the identity of the mad scientist who constructed this masterpiece of jive-ass clusterfuckage. I can assure you that he has a good sense of humor. “Model Belay Station” is his name for this photograph. He also suggests that the best method for escape the belay from this set up might be a “boning knife”.

Take another look at this thing. Seriously. Do me a favor. Count the caribiners for me. What do you see? Including the one in the climber’s belay loop I see seven. Seven! I don’t believe what I see, but that’s what I see. What the heck are they doing, all of these carabiners? What is their purpose? Oh I know. They’re some how connecting two climbing ropes and, what is that? Are those quickdraws threaded in there? Notice that none of the carabiners appear to be locking carabiners. Are any of them at a single point of failure?

Seriously folks. This is a total head-scratcher. Why? That’s the question I’m left with. Why was this thing made the way it was made? This thing is terrifying.

Location:  Little Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake City, Utah USA