Tag Archives: Bowline

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

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Nice dog! Is That a Bowline?

Dog securely anchored to a tree with a bowline knot.

Dog securely anchored to a tree with a bowline knot.

I was walking in downtown Portland, Oregon a while back and I came across a dog tied to a tree in front of a restaurant. I noticed that the knot used to tie the rope around the tree was none other than the infamous bowline knot, suggesting that dog’s owner was either a sailor or a climber. I didn’t get to talk to the owner, so I guess we’ll never know.

I have to admit that the bowline surprised and delighted me–enough that I was prompted to take this very poor photo. I think it’s in part a matter of context. As a climber I encounter this knot all the time in alpine climbing anchors. However, I don’t expect to run across a bowline in the city. I mean urban dog owners typically don’t know their knots. I would have expected a square knot at best, or a ‘granny knot’ at worst.

The dog just stood there staring attentively, like he was waiting for something to happen.

“What ya looking at boy?” I asked him. And I half expected him to respond.

“Well this rabbit came out of the hole. He ran around the tree, and then he went back down the hole. If he comes back out of that hole he’s mine.”

Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

The Opposite of Jive-Ass

Bomber natural pro climbing anchor

Bomber natural pro climbing anchor.

Lest you get the impression that all ice climbing anchors at the Ouray Ice Park in Colorado are jive-ass (they aren’t), here is a bomber climbing anchor. It’s quite aesthetically pleasing, actually–beautiful even–with its symmetrical bowlines with overhand back up knots. Personally I prefer to have the overhand back up knot right up against the bowline knot to keep everything from slipping, but this set up is gorgeous nonetheless. EARNEST and SERENE to a fault, it’s made of a single piece of what looks to be 7 mm cord. The power point was a “super 8”. I talked to the builder and he was very proud of his anchor. The pride he takes in his work shows.

Why are so many of my jive-ass anchor photos from the Ouray Ice Park? Or perhaps a better question is: how am I able to produce so many jive-ass anchor photos from the Ouray Ice Park? I think it’s simply a matter of sheer numbers and access. On a typical day there are dozens and dozens of top rope ice climbing anchors built in the park–many of them right next to one another. There are few places–rock climbing crags included–where a person can witness so many climbing anchor set ups in one place in one day. And given the sheer number, odds are that you’re going to encounter at least one or two anchors built by someone with inadequate (or no) climbing anchor construction training. All of that said, most of the climbing anchors one encounters there are perfectly bomber.

Location: Ouray Ice Park, Ouray, Colorado, USA

Mystery Knot

Mystery Knot

Mystery Knot

Time to play “guess that knot!” Observe the mystery knot above (part of a top rope ice climbing anchor). What the heck is that? I know what you’re thinking: bowline. But I saw it up close and observed it from several angles. It’s unlike any bowline I’ve ever seen. It looks more like part of a trucker’s hitch or something, or maybe one of those knots you use to tie monofilament fishing line to a fish hook. Clinch knot? Is that what it’s called? My knot geekness is sort of limited to climbing knots, so I can’t say for sure. What I do know is that it looks like it’s about to come undone! The other end of this anchor has a similar “looks like it’s about to come undone” mystery knot.

Oh yeah, ice climbers were top roping off of this thing.

Location: Ouray Ice Park, Ouray, Colorado, USA

Mystery knot

Mystery knot from another angle