Tag Archives: Colorado

Ice Climbers Like American Death Triangles Too

An American Death Triangle Ice Climbing Anchor in Ouray, Colorado

The Viking discovers Jive-Ass gold.

Look! Two ice screws threaded with a piece of webbing into a textbook American Death Triangle! This ice climbing top rope anchor photo was submitted by climbing buddy Ally Imbody. That’s Portland’s own Keith Campbell posing with this masterpiece of Jive-Assery.

This is the first submission of the season from that jive-ass anchor Shangri-La, the Ouray Ice Park.  I’ve got a group of climbing buddies from Portland out there for a week, so I expect to see more coming.

Oh, and just by way of reminder. This is no way intended to be a disparaging commentary on the fine Ouray Ice Park. The fact that so many jive-ass anchors photos come from here is largely about sheer numbers and easy access, which I think I explained way back when in this posting. When there are over 100 ice climbing routes in one place, there are many opportunities to inspect ice climbing anchors. And invariably at least a few are going to be jive-ass.

Why will the American Death Triangle not die already? How do we make it stop?

Location: Ouray Ice Park, Ouray, Colorado, USA.

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Mind the Carabiner Gate There Ice Climber

Grivel-360-Ice-Screw Crank Opening Gate of Carabiner
Oops! Check out what can happen if the crank handle on our Grivel 360 ice screw whips around into the gate of the carabiner we’ve got clipped into our ice screw. Kinda scary, eh? Yeah, I thought so too. The screw crank has cleverly opened the carabiner gate! Yikes! Don’t want to be taking a whipper on that thing, that’s for sure.

Here’s a close up for greater horrorshow.

Grivel-360-Ice Screw Close-up

Grivel-360-Ice Screw-Crank Close-up

My buddy Terry Brenneman took these photos while cleaning an ice climbing lead in the lower Ouray Ice Park. Before you freak out, assuming you climb with Grivel 360 ice screws, Terry suggests this might have been an early design flaw that’s since been remedied. “All my other Grivel 360s have a crank handle pivot which binds throughout its range and doesn’t flop around (see photo below),” he noted.

Old-and-New-Grivel-360-Crank-Design

Current Grivel-360-Crank-Design left, Scary version on right.

As you can see, the current 360 (on the left) has this triangular bend in the crank handle wire to keep it from flopping about. The Grivel 360 Jive-Ass Edition® (on the right) doesn’t have it. It’s got some other sort of wire bend at the end.

Terry explains, “I suspect the rogue screw is an obsolete desipgn which made it onto the retail floor (purchased around 2007 but it was a good deal!). Don’t need this false protection jive-assery on my rack.” And how!

Something to keep an eye out for. Has anyone had something like this happen?

Climb safe out there kids. Ice climbing is hazardous!

Location: Ouray Ice Park, Ouray, Colorado, USA

 

 

Longs Peak Clusterfuck

Clusterfuck Bail Anchor: The Diamond, Long's Peak

Clusterfuck Bail Anchor on The Diamond, Long’s Peak

Here is a photo taken just last Wednesday on The Diamond on Long’s Peak in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, by Martin Edwards. I think Martin’s own description captures it best, so I’ll let his words do the talking:

“I found this bail anchor above the North Chimney on the Longs Peak Diamond on Wednesday. There’s a lot going on: the flake that was slung was partially detached and not very solid, there is a buttonhead with an old SMC hangar, two rusted pins, and good stopper. There is webbing slung through everything with no equalization. There is no master point, either, everything converges at two different points. Jive ass.”

I couldn’t have said it better Martin, and I will only add the following two observations:

  1. The tan webbing is especially horrifying. Bolt hangers and pins often develop sharp edges, so it’s not a good idea to thread soft goods (like nylon webbing) through them. It’s best to attach them with a biner. Furthermore, nylon rubbing on nylon can melt at relatively low temperatures generated by force. So where the tan webbing is threaded through the bit of red webbing? Ouch!
  2. This whole anchor is a classic instance of what we climbers lovingly call a “clusterfuck”.

Be safe out there this summer, and happy climbing!

Location: Long’s Peak: The Diamond. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 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

This is a Weird Anchor

Weird Anchor

Weird Anchor

Look at this anchor. I can’t quite get my head around it. I don’t think it’s particularly dangerous or anything. In fact, it looks pretty bomber. It’s just…well…weird. It’s a textbook case of the over-engineered climbing anchor. The methods employed are ‘unconventional’ in the world of climbing anchors.

There is a piece of what looks like 6mm perlon cord quadrupled around the tree–wrapped so many times that it can’t reach around the tree. It seems that a double wrap would have made it around the tree and still provided redundancy. And then–this is where it gets really strange–there appear to be two spectra/nylon blend double runners, doubled over (to shorten them) and then tied directly to the 6mm cord.  And to provide redundancy, there is a sliding ‘x’ style loop at the power point–lest the whole works fail should one tied end of those slings fail. I say sliding ‘x’ style because there’s no way that bulky wad of spectra and nylon is going to ‘slide’. It’s essentially a case of using a dynamic equalization technique to end up with an effectively statically equalized anchor, leading us to ask why?

Two locking ‘biners opposite and opposed. Bomber.

This anchor isn’t going anywhere. It’s a top rope anchor attached to super stout natural pro. It’s just weird.

Location: Ouray Ice Park, Ouray, Colorado, USA