Tag Archives: top rope

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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If You Can’t Tie a Knot, Tie a Lot

 

Here is a classic macrame project top rope rock climbing anchor.

Here’s an interesting jive-ass anchor submission from Remillard Park in Berkeley, California sent to me by Alex Duncan and Chris St. Amant. This one’s subtle. It’s one of those instances where there’s enough redundancy going on that it’s probably not going to kill anyone. Besides, it’s for top roping. It’s not going to generate big fall forces. However, there’s enough weird shit going on that it’s pretty clear that the anchor builder is sort of just making it up as he goes.

As Alex himself put it, “We decided that this man had adopted the ‘If you can’t tie a knot, tie a lot’ policy.” And you know what? If you don’t exactly know what you’re doing that’s probably a better policy than going minimalist. If your knots suck there may be safety in numbers.

So we’re starting from the power point and going back to the anchor points on this one. Looks like someone’s climbing without a personal protection leash on this excursion, because it’s being used as part of the power point. No big deal I suppose. Let’s move back a bit.

Someone actually backed up an anchor bolt with a daisy chain girth hitched around a bit of pipe in the rock.

It’s always good to back up a bolt with a daisy chain girth hitched around a piece of pipe, said no one ever.

One leg of the anchor is attached to a proper rock climbing anchor bolt with a locking carabiner. Bomber! I feel really good about that.

There’s some other shit going on here too involving a piece of aid climbing gear. I don’t really understand that part.

This top rope rock climbing anchor knot is sort of like a Bowline Knot

Classic Mystery Knot.

The other leg of this two point natural pro/bolted pro combo is tied to a rock with a…knot. At least I think it’s a knot. It could be a random tangle in the rope. Alex writes that neither he nor Chris could identify it, nor could two other people they asked.

See, now this bit is pretty jive-ass. And there’s really no good excuse for it. You can teach yourself how to tie a freakin’ bowline right here on the internet. Here’s a how to tie a bowline tutorial. And here is another. And here is another. And here is yet another. There are many more. Yeesh.

Location:  Remillard Park in Berkeley, California, USA

Deadly Optimism

This utterly brilliant, ultra-sketchy Jive-Ass Anchor was photographed and submitted by Andrew McLeod, who happened upon it at one of the UK’s most popular crags (Stanage). I would like to commend Andrew right at the outset for providing exceptional photographic documentation, and delicious expository prose with his submission. Indeed, he had me at the caption of the first photo, which reads, “This was one of the most, if not the most, optimistic sling placements I have ever seen.” He was referring to this:

Sheer Luck Sling: An Optimistic Sling Placement that is barely holding on the edge of a slab of rock.

Optimistic Sling Placement

Whoa! Optimistic indeed. This would be the ‘dark side’ of optimism. It looks as though that thing is going to just slip over the edge at any moment. And this provokes an interesting bit of climbing philosophy to ponder. There is value to being a bit pessimistic about climbing. I don’t mean so grim and hopeless that you see no point in leaving your living room sofa to go out climbing. What I mean is having enough pessimism to plan and be prepared for the worst case scenario even if you always hope for the best case scenario. This is sometimes described as “protective pessimism“. It gives you a better margin of error. If you’re counting on everything to come off perfectly in order to succeed, you’re eventually going to get screwed badly–especially in as unforgiving an activity as climbing. This is what I mean by the dark side of optimism (illustrated well in the photo above).

But I digress! Let’s examine this “optimistic” anchor further, starting this time at the power point and working backwards.

Clove hitch loving power point.

A Power Point for Clove Hitch Lovers.

This is the power point. Notice that there are a lot of clove hitches attaching the rope to the carabiner. “for reasons unknown,” as Andrew notes. What the fuck are the clove hitches for exactly, I mean apart from creating a rat’s nest of clusterfuckage? Note also that the power point isn’t extended far enough to make it over the edge of the rock, so there is a spectra/dyneema sling attached. Notice that that spectra/dyneema sling is girth hitched to the carabiner, again for reasons unknown (knots and hitches weaken cordage, so this isn’t helping).  As Andrew also notes, there was more than enough rope left to extend that power point over the edge (especially if you were to remove a half a dozen of those clove hitches). The sling is unnecessary.

So just to orient you for the next pictures, here is Andrew’s handy description of where the strands run: “Left hand rope goes to sheer-luck sling [Editor’s Note: aka the Optimisitic Sling Placement], right hand rope to boulder-jam thread, centre to under-boulder gear.” Sounds delightful, no? You’ve already seen the sheer-luck sling, so let’s move onto the boulder-jam thread.

Boulder Jam Thread.

Boulder Jam Thread.

Oh hell yeah! Let’s thread a sling between two rocks pinched together! What could possibly go wrong (i.e. more dangerous optimism)? Never in the history of climbing has a sling pulled through a pinch between two rocks!

Thread the pinch!

Thread the pinch!

Here is a close up from another angle. Don’t do this, okay? This is Jive-Ass.

Let’s move on to the middle strand of rope (the short leg of the three point anchor), which Andrew described as “under-boulder gear”.

Underside of the boulder pinch.

Under-Boulder Gear.

This is a bit hard to see, so I’ll leave it to Andrew to describe: “Originally I thought this was two bits of gear and two quick-draws but looking at the photo more carefully I am beginning to think it is just one size 10 nut (the one my friend got out; the silver colour matches if it is DMM) with two opposed quick-draws. Which, given the completely non-redundant single sling over the edge, would be kind of insane, but believable…” I will add this point though: given the optimistic sling placement and the sketchy rock pinch, if this nut is well placed, then it’s really the only thing holding this mess together. That’s right. If I understand this correctly, they’re essentially top roping on a single nut placement. I hope it was well placed!

And there you have it. Luckily top roping doesn’t generate large forces. Thank’s for sharing Andrew McLeod. And to the rest of you, keep taking photos and sending them along.

Location: Stanage Edge, Derbyshire/South Yorkshire, UK

The Bow Tie

Holy crap, I am so excited to share this anchor submission with you all! It’s awesome jive-assery of the “over-engineered macrame project” variety (my favorite style). Beyond that it’s just bizarre. It’s from the Ouray Ice Park (hard to believe, I know) and the photos were submitted by Kent Bailey, who was visiting the park for the first time.  Kent calls this beast “The Bow Tie”, which is aptly named, as you can see.

An utterly strange ice climbing top rope anchor, macrame stylie.

Figure 1: An utterly strange ice climbing top rope anchor, macrame stylie.

As you can see, this is a redundant two point anchor. One anchor point is that simple loop of rope tied around the left tree with a knot I can’t quite identify. Here is a closer view. Any ideas anyone?

Bow Tie Ice Climbing Anchor from Another Angle.

Bow Tie Ice Climbing Anchor from Another Angle.

That knot on the left edge of the photo: it doesn’t quite look like a bowline. Not sure what it is. At any rate, here is a third photo from another angle:

Figure 3: Bow Tie Ice Climbing Top Rope Anchor from another angle.

Figure 3: Bow Tie Ice Climbing Top Rope Anchor from another angle.

Let’s move onto the second anchor point of this redundant anchor. It appears to be the load end of that elaborate spiderweb of rope wrapped around the two trees and tied up in a bow. You can see it better in figure 1. Yep. Looks like that’ll hold. I think it’ll hold. Which brings us to the question–to the elephant in the room as it were: why are those two trees bound together with that macrame project of rope? Is the idea to keep one of them from uprooting and getting yanked down the ice wall? They seem like pretty stout trees to me. Is this intended to be an art installation? In the end it really doesn’t look all that dangerous. It’s just…well…bizarre. I really don’t get it. I think Kent put it best when he wrote “I’m not really sure what all is really going on in this anchor.” My thoughts exactly, Kent. This is Jive-Ass Gold!

Location: Ouray Ice Park, Ouray, Colorado, USA

My What a Long Anchor!

My, my. It’s been a while since we’ve been to the Ouray Ice Park, hasn’t it? So with no futher ado, let’s dive right in, shall we? These photos were taken by my climbing pal Ania Wiktorowicz just this month. I like to call this ice climbing top rope anchor the loooooooooooong anchor. Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with a long anchor. At Ouray you often sling a tree set back 15 or 20 feet back from the cliff wall, so the length here isn’t unusual. But that’s not what’s Jive-Ass about it.

Slung Tree

Tree bone connected to the sling bone.

Let’s see, let’s sing the anatomy song on this one. The tree bone’s connected to the nylon sling bone…

Girth Hitched Soft goods

Sling bone girth hitched to…another sling bone!

The nylong sling bone’s connected to…another nylong sling bone. The…wait! Isn’t there suppossed to be a carabiner in here somewhere? Preferably a locker (since this is a single point of failure)? Nah! Just girth hitch one sling to another. We’ve addressed this issue before here, and here. This practice is, um…er…(cough! cough!) Jive-Ass.

And yeah, yeah, I know. It’s a freakin’ top rope anchor. No one’s going to crank that much force on it. It’ll probably be fine. Fair enough. It probably will. Probably no one will fall to the canyon floor and break both ankles. Probably not. But you really shouldn’t connect soft goods to soft goods like this–especially where it’s a single point of failure. “Probably” isn’t the same as “bomber”, and when you’re standing on the nice flat ground next to a tree, why not just go bomber?

Long ice climbing top rope anchor

My what a loooooong ice climbing top rope anchor.

And the final product. Try not to break off the sprinklers! That’s how they make the ice. You kids get off my route! And watch those crampons! This anchor isn’t EARNEST (no redundancy)!

Location: Ouray Ice Park, Ouray, Colorado USA