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

8 thoughts on “Model Belay Station

  1. climber

    The drug-addled memory of our esteemed anchor builder may have failed here but this is understandable. The lovely juniper in the photo is actually at the top of the final pitch of Steorts Ridge in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

  2. David Nelson

    I think we are looking at something historic and our first glance & comments may be unfair. This may well be the very first Web Site and the phonetics caught on, thus “website” was destined to become a worldwide phenom. (Not sure but I think this is near, or perhaps in fact IS the “Sacred “Site of the Web”. I also count 7 biners, however, where is the biner at the far end of the perfectly placed draw? I don’t think it’s the 3rd biner up, counting from the belay loop. Perhaps it’s a weird angle shot or depth of field of the lens, but that’s a long quick, slow draw snaking through the….the….the…, you know, …. the thing. But two biners are placed through one of the ends of the draw, one biner to the harness and the other disappearing into the rope orgy. If that’s the case, how did he or she do it? Is it actually the draw end binered to the harness (hell, snap lock or screw gate biners at the harness are a pain in the penile area in an emergency anyway; I sometimes don’t even tie a rope(s) to my harness…..I like that placebo feeling. My favorite image (which I intentionally saved for the last comment) is that the mock-pseudo-neo-quasi sort of string of knots that remind me of ben-wa balls; maybe the climbers are trying new things ya know; who are we to judge? I don’t get the red rope exiting (towards the viewer) some type of knot, maybe a clove (?) but why is it snaking over and under the blue-green rope beneath (in the area of the red gate biner) and where is it going? What is it doing? Why is it doing it? Maybe the Model who set this up was trying to get TWO ropes near the red-gated biner, just in case wouldn’t do the job of opening the gate….hell, through two near there. Help me again with the draw: is there not two biners snapped into one of the ends of the draw, just beyond the stitching and in the loop? I think the first sequence of the second climber was to use a draw to clip his harness (biner is in the right orientation for a draw and nice, light, wired gated) but if that was the sequence then how/when did the far end of the draw (which we can’t see…..I don’t think it’s the one further up — look at the orientation of the third biner up….it does not have the proper orientation to be on an end of the draw (isn’t that the nose of the biner just peeking out, gate pointing skywards?) I just don’t get the draw thing (nor anything else). As mentioned earlier, one is not going to escape this belay anytime under the Olympic record. The more I stare at it, the artsier it becomes, a sure sign that the drugs I did as a kid are coming back to haunt.

    I take it back….I don’t think the apparent humanoid, or at least its arm is the second climber, I think it’s the belayer. The two colored ropes in the bottom right corner make me think they then bend and head towards the belayer’s device, or at least through his fingers. Thoughts?

  3. Ktonic

    I see this all the time….except its holding three bikes to the roof of a Subaru Outback passing me going 90 down highway 128 with so much smoke coming out of the windows it looks like a mobile Cypress Hill concert!

  4. cattellcf

    I have found an 8th biner! If you look closely through the additional second biner (I say additional, however I believe it’s the proper biner for the draw due to the invasive wire-gate being clipped to this guy’s belay loop) you can see the bottom of a shiny purple gate saying hello from the bowels of the mess. Not that this discover helps in solving this case, however.

    So weird.


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