Unbelayvable: Saved by the Pro

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Every Monday we publish the most unbelievable stories of climbing stupidity submitted by our readers. See something unbelayvable? Email unbelayvable@climbing.com and your story could be featured online or in print. For more Unbelayvable, check out the Unbelayvable Archives.

Red River Gorge Rock Climbing unbelayvable

The featured rock of the Red River Gorge. Photo: David Sorich/Flickr; CC BY-SA 2.0

A young man was climbing Breakfast Burrito (5.10c) in the Red River Gorge. He ran out of draws mid-route and ran it out to the anchor. When he reached the chains, he had no way to go in direct. Against the heeding of his belayer, he decided he would hang from the chains, untie the rope with one hand, thread it through the chains, and then retie.

How do you think that went?

He managed to untie and then dropped the rope. Fortunately he was able to hang on while a good samaritan booked it up the route to put him in direct. To make this story even crazier, that good samaritan was pro climber Patxi Usobiaga.
The Red River Gorge Fixed Gear Initiative, via Thomas Stoltz

LESSON: This is one of the most unbelievable Unbelayvable submissions I've ever received. I would've written it off as fake if Patxi hadn't written about it himself (note: Spanish).The most obvious lesson here is that you should always climb near World Cup champion and 5.15 climber Patxi Usobiaga. If Patxi isn't available because he's training Adam Ondra and Chris Sharma, then avoid getting into this situation in the first place. Some things to consider:

  • According to Mountain Project, Breakfast Burrito only has eight bolts. If you climb an eight bolt route and run out of quickdraws before the chains, you have seriously failed to prepare. Check Mountain Project or a guidebook for route beta. Try to count the bolts from the ground. When unsure, carry more quickdraws than you'll need.
  • This climber knew he was out of draws while on the route. He should've lowered. Instead, he continued to the anchor knowing there would be no safe way to descend.
  • Batman-hanging from the chains while trying to untie, thread, then retie the rope with one hand is an unnecessary and straight-up dumb risk. A single-pitch 5.10c isn't worth dying over. No climbing route is.
  • You should always carry something on your harness in case you need to bail. If this climber had one carabiner he could've clipped into the anchor, and this whole situation would've been avoided.
  • At the very least, this climber owes Patxi Usobiaga an Edible Arrangement.

We want to hear your Unbelayvable stories!
Email unbelayvable@climbing.com and your story could be featured in a future edition online or in print. Unbelayvable photos are welcome, too.