Imagine you’re climbing some alpine mixed route, and your buddy belays you up to this anchor. Hmmm…. What great time to review your climbing anchor mnemonics! SERENE? Not so much:
Strong/Solid placements: Single boulder precariously fused into frozen pile of mud (No).
Equalized: To what? It’s a single sling (No).
Redundant: Single sling slung onto a single boulder is a single point of failure (No).
Efficient: Like the trains in Germany (Yes).
No Extension: Well if a piece should break the climber and anchor fall, what, 60 meters? Farther? How high are we again? (No).
EARNEST? I don’t think so:
Equalized: A single strand is always equal to itself, right? (No)
Angle: What angle? You need two intersecting lines to make an angle (No).
Redundant: Well if the sling breaks or the rock comes unstuck from the mud….um….(No).
No Extension: Yeah sure, there’s a lot of ‘extension’. But when the climber eventually hits the ground he/she will not shock load the detached anchor, so is that a yes? (No).
Solid/Secure: Sling girth hitched to boulder, boulder attached to…? (No).
Timely: Oh hell yeah! I bet this anchor took less than a minute to build. (YES!).
Brad Farra sent me this photo. And I know who built the anchor, but I’m not telling (and no, it wasn’t Brad!). I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t a case of “desperate times demand desperate measures”. Sometimes you come to the end of your rope and, well, there just aren’t a lot of options–especially in the alpine. So you make due with what you have. I once buried a Black Diamond Viper in the snow as a ‘deadman’ belay anchor on Devil’s Kitchen Headwall on Mt. Hood. No ice to take a screw and I was out of pickets. It happens.
But let’s make no bones about it: this anchor is ultra Jive-Ass. Extra points for the old school first generation Petzl Reverso.
Location: Unknown, but somewhere in North America no doubt.