Unbelayvable: This Meat Anchor Isn't ERNEST

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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.

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Repeat after me: Your unanchored friend is not a belay device. Photo: restlessglobetrotter/flickr; http://ow.ly/xNDwa

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I saw a big guy struggling to rope-solo up a tricky 5.8. He was using an ascender, and he wasn’t taking up slack very well. The real problem was at the top of the cliff. His “anchor” was his smaller buddy, sitting five feet from the edge, holding the rope around his hip. I explained that a fall would’ve yanked them both off the cliff, but got blank stares.

—Submitted by Ed, 

via Climbing.com

LESSON:

Use common sense and think through worst-case scenarios. Nothing about this “meat anchor” is ERNEST (equalized, redundant, no extension, solid, timely). Plus, if you have a partner, just have him belay you. There is no advantage to toprope soloing.

>>A new climber set up a toprope by clipping one quickdraw between two bolts. Not only was the rope unsecured and running against a nylon sling, but the angle between the bolts was about 170°.—Submitted by Cameron Hunt, via Facebook

LESSON: Basic anchor principles aside, two things make this especially dangerous. First, a nylon rope rubbing against a nylon sling under weight will generate a lot of heat. There’s a good chance the sling will melt. Metal should be used between all soft goods. Second, the wide angle would magnify the force generated in a fall. With a 30° angle, each bolt bears 52 percent of the original load. With a 120° angle, each bolt bears 100 percent of the original load, which could cause the anchor to fail.

>>Climber: “Take!” Belayer: “Hold on. Let me finish texting my mom.”—Submitted by George Terrizzi,  via Facebook

LESSON: Put the phone away and pay strict attention to your climber. “Take” is a serious command that warrants an immediate response. You can tell your mom you love her when you get home.

See something unbelayvable?Tell us in the comments and your story could be featured in a future edition online or in print.