Check out this Jive-Ass, Old-Skool, homemade snow picket we found on the Eliot Glacier on the north side of Mt. Hood this weekend. It’s a beauty! We were on the glacier practicing high angle rescue techniques and this thing was just laying on the ice on one of the lower ice shelves near the start of the terminal morane.
Like most glaciers, the Eliot is retreating and melting at a rather disturbing rate. My hunch is that this Jive-Ass homemade picket was frozen up there in the glacier for a fairly decent amount of time, until it finally it melted free of its icy grave, sort of like Ötzi the Iceman, the 5,300 year old man who popped out of the Italian Alps in 1991.
Ötzi the Iceman (photo: Wikicommons)
I’m not saying this picket was buried in the ice for anything approaching that amount of time, mind you. I’m thinking maybe a decade or two. This highly speculative hypothesis is supported in some small measure by the 1970s era Chouinard Carabiner attached to it. That thing is an antique. Yvon Chouinard hasn’t sold carabiners since Chouinard Equipment Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1989, due to several product liability lawsuites, and several former employees bought the inventory and founded Black Diamond Equipment.
As to the picket itself? It appears to be a rather thin aluminum tube with a hole drilled in the end. Through that hole there is a piece of steel cable formed into a loop with a metal cable crimp. Notice also that the tube is sort of bent. I hope that didn’t happen while someone was hanging from it.
Here is some ultra fresh Jive-Assery from the Ouray Ice Park, in Ouray Colorado (which never disappoints).*
Jeremy Lubkin took this photo just days ago. It’s an ice climbing top rope anchor. It’s not exactly clear what’s going on here, but something’s not right. As Jeremy put it “So much cord I get confused, but pretty sure it qualifies as Jive Ass.”
If I had to venture a guess I’d say the green webbing is some kind of overhand on a bight with the tail clipped into the carabiners, backed up with some black webbing, looped into the power point, and tied with a water knot. Textbook jive-ass.
Very nice locking carabiner redundancy though. Opposite and almost even opposed (one is flipped to create the opposing gates–as Michael Zasadsian pointed out to me). If it weren’t true that an anchor is only as strong as its weakest link, this would almost make up for everything.
Location: Ouray Ice Park, Ouray, Colorado USA
*That’s not intended to disparage the climbers at the Ouray Ice Park. Some really talented and skilled climbers climb there. It’s just that the uniqueness of this ice climbing ‘crag’ affords many opportunities for witnessing jive-ass anchors. You have a mile of top rope anchors at the top of Uncompahgre Gorge, which you can walk past. Odds are in your favor that you’re going to encounter something jive-ass eventually.
If you’re an avid rock climber you’ve probably already heard about the tragic, untimely, and completely unnecessary death on July 5th of 12-year-old Italian climbing phenom Tito Traversa at the French crag Orpierre. Apparently while being lowered off of a 5.10b eight of the 12 quickdraws he’d used to protect the route failed, causing him to deck after a fall of some 25 meters. The police photo above, published in the French climbing magazine Grimper, reveals what speculation has suggested up to now: the quickdraws, which were provided by someone on he gym team he was travelling with, were improperly assembled. The tiny bit of elastic, which is designed to keep the carabiner in an upright position at the end of the dogbone for easy clipping, was used as the sole attachment point between the carabiner and the nylon/dyneema dogbone itself. You can see similar coverage in English from Climbing magazine.
Unless you’re mindful to carefully inspect your quickdraws before you climb, this assembly error isn’t readily apparent until the quickdraw is actually weighted (in which case it’s too late). However, assuming you use your own quickdraws, which you’ve assembled yourself and probably used many times in the past, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll encounter this assembly error. So maybe this is a cautionary tale for those rare times you borrow someone else’s quickdraws, right? Perhaps. But in this video from UKClimbing, climbing gear designer Streaky Desroy shows us how we unwittingly might encounter this very quickdraw problem simply by carrying our quickdraws around in a pack. This is probably a greater danger for open slings used to create alpine draws than your conventional dogbone style sport climbing quickdraw. Nevertheless, it’s something we should all be mindful of anyway.
The single loop of one inch webbing is backed up with a carabiner clipped to the chain. Does that make this anchor redundant? I suppose if the steel chain or the forged aluminum carabiner failed, then that back up ‘biner would secure that ‘ultra bomber’ bit of nylon, right?