Tag Archives: Overhand knot

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.

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Desperate Anchor Measures

Square knot anchor?

Square knot anchor?

Ever tie a climbing anchor with the same knot you tie your shoe laces? Yeah, me either. But whomever built the anchor above has. This is an honest-to-goodness jive-ass anchor photographed in the wild (on Oregon’s North Sister) by Stephanie Spence. As Steph notes, what we have here is a “square knot backed up by two overhands”(!). And judging by all of the loose sand around it, that rock the rope is slung around is pretty suspect as well.

This looks like a Wiley Coyote set up. You take a fall on the anchor, the rock the anchor is slung around pulls loose, you fall to the bottom of the cliff, and to add insult to injury, the rock you just pulled loose lands on your head. Here’s a rough dramatization for those of you unfamiliar with Road Runner cartoons.

But wait! There’s more! There is another anchor in this jive-ass set:

Sketch Slung Horn Anchor

Sketch Slung Horn Anchor

As Stephanie notes, this one is at least tied together with a double fisherman’s knot, although I don’t get the overhand knot in the middle. Presumably it was supposed to cinch the rope around the horn to keep it from falling off (there are better ways to accomplish this). More importantly, as Stephanie notes, “it’s just barely draped over that rock that may or may not be attached to the mountain.” I wouldn’t want to take my chances falling on this one anymore than the Wiley Coyote set up.

Below is a close up showing that there’s not much of a horn to keep the rope from slipping off of the rock:

Close-up of sketchy slung horn anchor.

Close-up of sketchy slung horn anchor.

So why would anyone in their right mind make such jive-ass anchors? Stephanie gives us some insight on that question.

“I was scrambling on up [North] Sister yesterday,” she writes, “and noticed these amazing anchors along what I believe is typically considered the “terrible traverse”.  One can only assume someone tried to cross this section on snow having not brought any pickets.” And there you have it. Desperate measures sometimes call for desperate climbing anchors. Another thing to note, which corroborates Steph’s impromptu forensic investigation, is that these anchor slings are made out of sections of climbing rope! It paints quite a desperate picture of someone panicked by exposure, having underestimated the climb, having failed to bring any protection, and having marginal technical skills (see the square knot), actually chopping off sections of his or her climbing rope to build some desperate anchors on the rock above the snow. Scary stuff, huh?

Location: North Sister, Oregon, USA