Tag Archives: mixed climbing

Nothing EARNEST or SERENE

Not very EARNEST  Alpine Anchor

Not very EARNEST Alpine Anchor

Imagine you’re climbing some alpine mixed route, and your buddy belays you up to this anchor. Hmmm…. What great time to review your climbing anchor mnemonics!  SERENE? Not so much:

Strong/Solid placements: Single boulder precariously fused into frozen pile of mud  (No).

Equalized: To what? It’s a single sling (No).

Redundant: Single sling  slung onto a single boulder is a single point of failure (No).

Efficient: Like the trains in Germany (Yes).

NExtension: Well if a piece should break the climber and anchor fall, what, 60 meters? Farther? How high are we again? (No).

EARNEST? I don’t think so:

Equalized: A single strand is always equal to itself, right? (No)

Angle: What angle? You need two intersecting lines to make an angle (No).

Redundant: Well if the sling breaks or the rock comes unstuck from the mud….um….(No).

NExtension: Yeah sure, there’s a lot of ‘extension’. But when the climber eventually hits the ground he/she will not shock load the detached anchor, so is that a yes? (No).

Solid/Secure: Sling girth hitched to boulder, boulder attached to…?  (No).

Timely: Oh hell yeah! I bet this anchor took less than a minute to build. (YES!).

Brad Farra sent me this photo. And I know who built the anchor, but I’m not telling (and no, it wasn’t Brad!). I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t a case of “desperate times demand desperate measures”. Sometimes you come to the end of your rope and, well, there just aren’t a lot of options–especially in the alpine. So you make due with what you have. I once buried a Black Diamond Viper in the snow as a ‘deadman’ belay anchor on Devil’s Kitchen Headwall on Mt. Hood. No ice to take a screw and I was out of pickets. It happens.

But let’s make no bones about it: this anchor is ultra Jive-Ass. Extra points for the old school first generation Petzl Reverso.

Location: Unknown, but somewhere in North America no doubt. 

Are You Proud of Your Anchor?

Martial Dumas is super proud of his anchor.

Martial Dumas is super proud of his anchor.

Petzl produced a nice mixed climbing video several years ago, filmed in characteristically (so I am told) terrible conditions on Ben Nevis. In it, Petzel athlete Martial Dumas pridefully “owns” his anchor is a way that’s both humorous, but also kind of awesome. The dialogue is as follows (if you’re a Francophone you don’t need the subtitles):

“Martial Dumas”
“Yes?”
“Are you proud of your anchor?”
“Super proud.”

What’s great about Martial’s proud pronouncement is that the anchor building conditions are far from ideal. He’s got two hexes in an icy crack (always a somewhat sketchy proposition), statically equalized with a spectra sling. In short, he makes due with what he’s got to work with.

This conversation happens in the video at 6:40. Check it out here:

I’d like to suggest that when whenever you build an anchor you should imagine that upon completion an interviewer will show up with a camera and ask you if you are proud of your anchor. If you build your anchor with a view to being able to exclaim with pride and confidence “super proud!”, I suspect you’ll end up constructing a pretty good anchor.

Location: Ben Nevis, Scotland