Ice Climbers Like American Death Triangles Too

An American Death Triangle Ice Climbing Anchor in Ouray, Colorado

The Viking discovers Jive-Ass gold.

Look! Two ice screws threaded with a piece of webbing into a textbook American Death Triangle! This ice climbing top rope anchor photo was submitted by climbing buddy Ally Imbody. That’s Portland’s own Keith Campbell posing with this masterpiece of Jive-Assery.

This is the first submission of the season from that jive-ass anchor Shangri-La, the Ouray Ice Park.  I’ve got a group of climbing buddies from Portland out there for a week, so I expect to see more coming.

Oh, and just by way of reminder. This is no way intended to be a disparaging commentary on the fine Ouray Ice Park. The fact that so many jive-ass anchors photos come from here is largely about sheer numbers and easy access, which I think I explained way back when in this posting. When there are over 100 ice climbing routes in one place, there are many opportunities to inspect ice climbing anchors. And invariably at least a few are going to be jive-ass.

Why will the American Death Triangle not die already? How do we make it stop?

Location: Ouray Ice Park, Ouray, Colorado, USA.

If You Can’t Tie a Knot, Tie a Lot


Here is a classic macrame project top rope rock climbing anchor.

Here’s an interesting jive-ass anchor submission from Remillard Park in Berkeley, California sent to me by Alex Duncan and Chris St. Amant. This one’s subtle. It’s one of those instances where there’s enough redundancy going on that it’s probably not going to kill anyone. Besides, it’s for top roping. It’s not going to generate big fall forces. However, there’s enough weird shit going on that it’s pretty clear that the anchor builder is sort of just making it up as he goes.

As Alex himself put it, “We decided that this man had adopted the ‘If you can’t tie a knot, tie a lot’ policy.” And you know what? If you don’t exactly know what you’re doing that’s probably a better policy than going minimalist. If your knots suck there may be safety in numbers.

So we’re starting from the power point and going back to the anchor points on this one. Looks like someone’s climbing without a personal protection leash on this excursion, because it’s being used as part of the power point. No big deal I suppose. Let’s move back a bit.

Someone actually backed up an anchor bolt with a daisy chain girth hitched around a bit of pipe in the rock.

It’s always good to back up a bolt with a daisy chain girth hitched around a piece of pipe, said no one ever.

One leg of the anchor is attached to a proper rock climbing anchor bolt with a locking carabiner. Bomber! I feel really good about that.

There’s some other shit going on here too involving a piece of aid climbing gear. I don’t really understand that part.

This top rope rock climbing anchor knot is sort of like a Bowline Knot

Classic Mystery Knot.

The other leg of this two point natural pro/bolted pro combo is tied to a rock with a…knot. At least I think it’s a knot. It could be a random tangle in the rope. Alex writes that neither he nor Chris could identify it, nor could two other people they asked.

See, now this bit is pretty jive-ass. And there’s really no good excuse for it. You can teach yourself how to tie a freakin’ bowline right here on the internet. Here’s a how to tie a bowline tutorial. And here is another. And here is another. And here is yet another. There are many more. Yeesh.

Location:  Remillard Park in Berkeley, California, USA

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.