Unbelayvable: A Pleasant Day of Topwebbing

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Kevin Corrigan
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Every Monday we publish the most unbelievable stories of climbing stupidity submitted by our readers. See something unbelayvable? Tell us in the comments and your story could be featured in a future edition, online or in print. For more Unbelayvable, check out the Unbelayvable Archives.

Unbelayvable: A Pleasant Day of Topwebbing

>>I saw a group of four doing something very stupid at Pilot Mountain State Park. They were toproping an easy 5.6, but they weren't using a rope. Instead, one genius in the group thought it would be fine to use an 80-foot piece of nylon webbing. He had a belay device and had threaded the webbing through it, thinking it was all the same. I approached and asked if any of them had been climbing outside before. Of course it was their first time. I politely suggested that what they were doing was quite dangerous, but they didn't seem to care. They did break down their site after we spoke, and I thought they had the good sense to listen to someone who wasn't at his first rodeo. Nope. They just moved 300 yards north to set up another route.—George Brunner via Climbing.com

LESSON: Webbing is just not a suitable replacement for a true climbing rope. For the February 2015 issue of Climbing, I spoke to IFMGA-certified guide Joey Thompson for a skills article. One thing he said stood out to me, "As a mountain guide, I use the materials based on the manufacturers recommendations, and until I get some drop-testing results...I can't recommend it." I'd asked what he thought about clove-hitching a sling to a carabiner in an alpine draw, but the advice applies to, well... everything. Unless that little booklet of do's and don'ts that came with your webbing says it's OK to use it like a climbing rope, then don't do it. Unless that little booklet that came with your belay device says you can use it to belay with webbing, then don't do it. It's pretty basic. And in this situation, I can confidently say that neither of them do.We want to hear your Unbelayvable stories! Tell us in the comments and your story could be featured in a future edition online or in print. Got an Unbelayvable photo? Send it to unbelayvable@climbing.com.