Allergic to Metal Top Rope Anchor

Allergic to Metal Top Rope Anchor, witnessed in The Gunks.

Allergic to Metal Top Rope Anchor, witnessed in The Gunks.

Alex Fox found this little gem when climbing in The Gunks a few weeks ago. “Allergic to Metal” is his name, due to the fact that, well, there is nary a carabiner or nut or cam other piece of metal anywhere to be seen. I’ve certainly seen worse anchors, but this is pretty Jive-Ass just the same. 

Apparently the yellow cord going off-camera is tied to a tree with some exotic knot Alex couldn’t identify. “[I]t was backed up with a double overhand,” he added, “so was likely fairly secure.” All fine and well I suppose. But the stuff in the shot? Yeah. That’s Jive-Ass gold! Here are the issues Alex was able to enumerate himself:

1) “The webbing is tied around a completely detached boulder.” In other words, a classic Wiley Coyote set up. It’s a pretty big rock, mind you. But it’s not really that big!

2) There is some “hot nylon-on-nylon action” (my words being quoted by the way!) where cord meets webbing in a girth-hitch. Why, oh why not just connect the pieces of cord with a carabiner? We know what can happen when you connect soft goods together with a girth hitch. This happens (note the paragraph titled “Cyclic”).

3) Then there is a dyneema sling, which has a melting point of about 130 to 136 °C (266 to 277 °F), rather precariously girth hitched around another rock. 

4) Finally, and this is the clincher, Alex notes that both the nylon and dyneema webbing have a few random overhand knots tied in them, which, as Alex eloquently puts it, “didn’t appear to serve any purpose aside from weakening its overall strength.”

Location: Shawangunk Ridge (The Gunks), New York, USA

2 thoughts on “Allergic to Metal Top Rope Anchor

  1. Andrew

    I fail to see how the BD article you linked to in any way supports your argument that nylon on nylon is bad when building a top rope anchor. FTA: “All configurations and samples tested (11/16″ nylon to 11/16″ nylon, 10 mm Dynex to 11/16″ nylon, 8 mm Spectra to 11/16″ nylon) using Girth Hitch, Strop Bend and Climber’s Hitch all surpassed 5000 cycles at a repeated cyclic load of 800 lbf.”

    1. Andrew

      I agree with the other Andrew above, and will go further to add that, while not ideal, this anchor is not particularly dangerous. Even in the unlikely event that the detached boulder, which weighs at least a ton, somehow moved under the force of a top rope fall, this would just shift the load to the other anchor components.

      Yes, the girth hitch is not ideal, but not extremely concerning as part of a multi-peice anchor. Not sure what you are getting at about the melting temperature of dyneema, since no action could possibly be exerted on that sling capable of appreciably raising its temperature. Your point about the knots is similarly irrelevant – are you suggesting this anchor is going to fail because that sling is weakened by a knot? This is damn near impossible, especially top-roping.

      Hopefully the person who felt strongly enough about this anchor to take a picture of it for ridicule politely spoke with the party climbing on it.


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