Tag Archives: ice climbing

Jive-Ass Snow Picket

Jive-Ass Snow Picket

Jive-Ass Snow Picket

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)

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. 

Location: Eliot Glacier, Mt. Hood, Oregon, USA

 

 

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Jive-Ass Ice Rappel Anchor

Jive-Ass Ice Rappel Anchor

Jive-Ass Ice Rappel Anchor

Okay, I know who built this thing. One friend built it, while another friend gleefully photographed it and promptly forwarded the photo to me. They said they were only experimenting. They didn’t actually use this.

At any rate, it’s fairly jive-ass, don’t you agree? I mean I suppose if the cord is thick enough so that the subsequent knots aren’t so small that they pull into the hole left by the ice screws….

It seems like you could accomplish the same thing without the jive-ass overhand knot stoppers.

Anyway, yeah, experimenting is fun…

Location: Hyalite, Bozeman, Montana, USA

Ouray Jive-Assery

Jive-Ass Top Rope Anchor in Ouray Ice Park

Jive-Ass Top Rope Anchor

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.

Top Rope Anchor Cluster

Wim on Pitch 1 of The Crown Jewel.

Wim on Pitch 1 of The Crown Jewel.

This entry borrows a chapter from the book “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.” In early December (2013) we had a very rare and sustained cold snap in the Pacific Northwestern U.S. It was cold enough to freeze some of the many waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge that divides Washington and Oregon, and all of my Portland area climbing pals were going ape shit crazy with all of the ice climbing opportunities. I managed to get out on two days myself, and even had the rare opportunity to climb the Crown Jewel below Crown Point on the Oregon side of the river. It’s two pitches of WI3. That’s my buddy Wim leading pitch 1 in the photo above. Not the gnarliest thing in the world, mind you, but you have to appreciate how rare it is for it to ever be ‘in’. Moreover, it’s far more exciting than a typical WI3 because it’s wet and warm and degrading as fast as it formed, leaving a lurking, spring-like fear that the whole works could de-laminate from the rock and send you hurling down the cliff.

Ah, fine and well, you might be saying, but where’s my jive-ass climbing anchor! Patience. We’re getting there.

When we were gearing up at the base of the route two stoners arrived. I call them stoners, because they roasted bowl after bowl of weed while they contemplated climbing the thing. They were rock climbers without much ice climbing experience, and I don’t know where they got it, but they were armed with positively antique ice climbing gear: straight shafted tools, pound in ice pitons, and some early Jeff Lowe ice pioneer era screws. Eventually, and much to my relief, they decided leading the thing probably wasn’t wise. So they asked me if I’d trail their rope up so they could top rope pitch 1. There’s a set of bolts at the top of pitch one. “Sure,” I said, “No problem.” And that’s what I did.

While I belayed pitch 2 from the top of pitch 1, Stoner guy #1 arrives and starts to reconfigure his top rope anchor to redirect it to the center of the ice. He reworked everything, from the bolts on. And here are the results:

Jive-Ass Sliding-X Top Rope Ice Climbing Anchor

Jive-Ass Sliding-X Top Rope Ice Climbing Anchor

He reconfigured a statically equalized, redundant anchor into this sliding x. Not ideal. No limiter knots, so not redundant. But I’ve seen worse. This isn’t what I’m here to share.

By the way, notice the ratty-tatty American Death Triangle rappel set up behind it! I should have cut that crap off, but I’m ashamed to say it didn’t occur to me at the moment for some reason.

Redirected Jive-Ass Ice Climbing Top Rope Anchor runs across the back of my calves...

Redirected Jive-Ass Ice Climbing Top Rope Anchor runs across the back of my calves…

So here is where the fancy redirected top rope ice climbing anchor gets interesting. The belay ledge is barely a ledge–maybe a foot width to stand on. Stoner guy runs the rope along the back of my calves. Unfortunately I didn’t notice this until he weighted the system to get lowered and the rope came tight on my leg.

Jive-Ass Redirect Rube Goldberg Contraption.

Jive-Ass Redirect Rube Goldberg Contraption.

Here’s the redirect anchor. One fairly solid screw, and one totally jive-ass back up screw. Stoner guy ground the screw in until he hit rock (oops!), and decided to call it good. It’s kinda redundant, right? Hopefully that other screw is bomber. I argued with him while he constructed this mess (and while simultaneously trying to concentrate on my belaying). I was able to convince him to clip the hanger on the jive-ass screw rather than sling the exposed shaft.

Once the system came tight on my leg, I complained to Stoner guy #2 when he got to the top of his lap. And he and Stoner guy #1 suggested I just step over onto the other side of the rope. I imagined an anchor failure where I get cheese-sliced off the wall and decided against it. Thus the rope sawed back and forth on the back of my legs until I was eventually able to climb away from the station.

Good times.

Location: Crown point, Columbia River Gorge, 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