Worst rap anchors you've ever used


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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 6, 2018 - 09:10am PT
I recall rapping off a hand-sized chickenhead in the Cochise Stronghold which snapped off as I was trying to flip the runner off of it to be cheap once I got down.

Trad climber
mt. hood /baja
Mar 6, 2018 - 09:11am PT
Man that video is almost hard to watch , the stuff of nightmares.
I do not think that any new climbers are gonna watch that and
want to try it cuz it looks rad.. I would hope not. Rapping is
one of the more dangerous aspects of climbing. I have never wanted
to make it more spicy. I would have crapped myself on that one.

Social climber
The home
Mar 6, 2018 - 10:11am PT
Sketchy anchor
Sketchy anchor
Credit: rbolton

Not sure about this anchor.

The Good Places
Mar 6, 2018 - 10:46am PT
^^^^the bomber mousetrap anchor^^^

the practical physics (and assumption therein) requisite for this sh#t....

or just oblivious good luck...not that any of you know a thing about that...

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Mar 6, 2018 - 11:28am PT
I've posted these before, but they have a place in this thread:

Bailing off Coonyard Pinnacle mid-pitch somewhere with Davidji. It was actually pretty good because we each took a 40 foot slider off of it before giving up:

This one doesn't look bad, but the rusty piton is cracked all the way through, and the direction of pull on the nut is not friendly to where the rock constriction is. It's somewhere most of the way up Geek Tower center route, bailed with Jay Wood:

Probably would have had some other good ones on first time trying Hawkman's Escape, but camera strap broke in a chimney on the way up and I lost the camera (down somewhere on Michael's Ledge since 2008 or so).

Careful if you have to rap down Via Aqua (we didnt't - it's a relatively easy climb and a walk-off):

I have blocked out memories of whatever we rapped off or left behind in the Aquamist Chimney, which Ritwik and I used when were not sure exactly where we were after doing a new route to the left (which we had spontaneously decided on with no prior scoping/planning). It was the middle of the night, tired/cold/etc. and we didn't know we could have scrambled/walked off and come down the Yos Falls Trail from our high point :)

Off White

Tenino, WA
Mar 6, 2018 - 12:10pm PT
Decades ago my buddy Galen and I made a late season descent of the Sherpa Couloir on Mt Stuart in the Cascades after an ascent of the complete north ridge. Silly us, September meant that the normally reasonable descent had changed from steep plunge stepping to an inch of mushy slub over rock hard alpine ice, and there was no way we were walking down, or even climbing since we had omitted the crampons to save weight. Someone had rappelled this recently and left anchors, all red slings with the initials RM sharpied on them, and each sling was super grim. In each case we reset the sling on a bomber horn situation within a 3' radius of the original awful placement, often requiring a little nut tool excavation to expose the solid situation.

We turned 8 terrible half rope rappels into a solid escape, including the last anchor. It was tied around the pinch point of a large peanut shaped boulder on a sloping gravel covered wet slab, and led straight over the overhanging downslope cliff face. Honestly, there wasn't more than 6 square inches of contact for this boulder spread over two points on a 25 degree downsloping slab. We just untied the sling, put it on the other point, and the load faced uphill as we escaped down the lower angled gully to skier's left.

Just because you come upon a horrible rap anchor doesn't mean you have to use it.

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Mar 6, 2018 - 03:35pm PT
Canadian Rockies. We had to bail down a gully you'd normally just downclimb unroped, but a huge dump of heavy wet snow had occurred so everything (including the class 3 continuation of the route) had become a total death trap from risk of just getting sloughed over a little cliff. Things were sliding everywhere, and it only takes a few inches of that shyte to sweep you off. No photos: we started in the blizzard and before 2 rappels were done it was dark. Carried on all night, nine or ten 25 m raps. A bollard, an icicle, a V-thread (bomber), a whole bunch of single-piece raps on anchors including a cammed tricam, all in typical Canada rubble. Once, maybe twice, we had 2 pieces incorporating something we found. Being noobs to the region, we didn't realize in advance that any crack larger than knifeblade was just a stack of loose rocks, so most of the handful of pieces we had were totally useless. I conserved that one precious KB as long as possible!

Any real alpinist would have thought it was casual, but we thought it was gnarly and that we were lucky to get down without getting sloughed and burgerized against the gully walls.

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, CO
Mar 6, 2018 - 04:04pm PT
Not knowing or remembering how to down climb from Lone Eagle Peak the first time I did it, we ended up rapping down a line others had blazed years before. One rap anchor was a knotty bush growing close to the ground. This matted vegetation had roots about an inch in diameter. A few slings were wrapped around the whole pile of sh#t. It held, obviously, as we lived.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 6, 2018 - 04:56pm PT
All rap anchors that hold are good. Your worst anchor is your last anchor.

Mar 6, 2018 - 04:58pm PT
Every gross materialist's anchor has already failed and that is why you are on this planet .......

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 7, 2018 - 06:54am PT
pehaps but certainly some anchors only hold on some whim beyond our comprehension...

Mountain climber
Timbers of Fennario
Mar 7, 2018 - 08:20am PT
Sketchiest rappel? The one I fell 45 feet off of, flipping and tumbling into the Ice Park. I made it into Accidents in North Amer. Mountaineering on that one. Anchor was fine, just the user (me) was an idiot. I do recall rapping off of a bush that was maaaayyyybe and inch in diameter that was frozen into the snow after an ice climb in the mountains. Good times!

Mar 7, 2018 - 12:33pm PT
Pretty scary


Ice climber
hartford, ct
Mar 8, 2018 - 09:36am PT
Alright... I actually had nightmares about that last video.

Wow. It looked like he could have welded one tool into that grassy crack/hummock thing above. I bet he could have bashed it in with his other tool, clipped the spike and rapped off of that.

Even hollar'ing for help before trying that awful stone thing would be preferable.

Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Mar 8, 2018 - 01:34pm PT
On Chimney Rock in the San Juan Mtns Jimmy Newberry and I were rapping down with one rope (two ropes would have allowed us to make the ground using established anchors. However, with one rope we ended up on a sloping ledge about 50 - 60 feet short of the bottom of the climb. No anchors, no cracks to put a piece in, so we looped the rope around the biggest cobble sticking out of that conglomerate. Jimmy went first and I held the rope in place in case it decided to slip. When it was my turn I walked off at an angle most likely to keep the rope looped around that protruding cobble. I did not like that rappel.

Another time Scott Mossman and I topped out on this pinnacle with a very small summit at Hartman Rocks south of Gunnison. There were no rap anchors at all on the summit so we put a bolt in. As the granite on the summit was rather grusy the finished bolt tended to flex. We were not reassured by that so we tossed each end of the rope down opposite sides of the pinnacle and simultaneously rapped off. It felt pretty wild but we felt much safer than we would have using that worthless bolt.

Trad climber
portland, or
Mar 8, 2018 - 02:51pm PT
Joe should appreciate this one. In my early, teenage, stooped years, my buddy and I were deciding what to climb at Beacon Rock. I don't know the name of the route, but it's a thin crack somewhere between the western-most tunnel and Dod's Jam, on the western half of the river face.

I aided up, using all the small stuff on my rack: hexes 1 & 2, short, thin Lost Arrows, and a few small SMC wedges/nuts. I figured I got up about 70 feet off the deck because I had a 150-footer, and my buddy had not yet seen the halfway mark show up while he was belaying me.

At that point I ran out of gear for further upward progress. Then, right there, in front of my face, there it was, one button head, complete with hanger! I anchored off, my buddy jumared up, cleaning everything I had put in, then, with both of us hanging from that one bolt, we rapped off.

To this day I feel we got very lucky the bolt didn't pull or the hanger fail. I never climbed and rapped like THAT again!

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 8, 2018 - 03:13pm PT
I climbed in over my head on a mixed line with sh#t gear early season once. 3m from the top in this nasty flared chimney I almost called for help from above as there was another party up there.. toughed it out and mad the thank god move to the bomber hook and the good gear....
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
Mar 8, 2018 - 06:04pm PT
Credit: jeff constine

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Mar 8, 2018 - 07:49pm PT
It was like rapping off a bad anchor, only different.

I think it was in 2010 that I decided to replace the anchors for the top two pitches of the Don Juan Wall at the Needles. Some guys in camp said they were doing the route the next day and offered to trail and fix my ropes. Cool. I’d have two ropes tied together which they would fix to the last belay on the route. I explained that the last belay had two ancient bolts placed about five feet apart, a knife-blade in a Funky crack about ten feet up with a long piece of tat hanging down, and some good tcu placements up and right to back the whole mess up. Both bolts were quarter incher's with old rusty nuts, not button-heads. The one on the left had one of those hangars that lays flat, when weighted it pry’s out on the bolt. Bolts like these were designed to attached the toilet paper holder to the cinder block wall of a gas station bathroom. I asked the guys to be sure to back me up well, and offered them some gear to use. They said they’d use their own. I could return it later at camp. They had been there a few days and seemed competent so I wasn’t worried.

When the ropes were fixed I began jugging on up. The first anchor was previously replaced by Clint Cummins. It was the next two I was after, especially the last. At the second anchor, three old bolts as I recall, I bounced around quite a bit prying from various angles to get out the bolts. Lucky for me they came out easily so I didn’t have to get too active. That done I jugged up to the last one.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. My rope was clipped into the left hand bolt and then across to the other one with a slack tail. There was no attempt to equalize, and not even the pin was clipped. There was no backup. I could see this with another fifteen feet to go to the small stance at the bolts. I froze. My wife Barbara was sitting in the main notch reading a book and keeping half an eye on my progress. I thought about what it would look like to her if the bolts popped and I went tumbling down through the sky for four or five hundred feet all tangled up in ropes and a small haul bag. I jugged ever so gently up to the stance. Out came the tools. The old right hand bolt was in a pretty good spot over the stance, so I placed a 3/8” bolt a foot to its left and clipped in. Whew… Pulling the bolt on the right was like pulling a nail out of a rotten log. I placed a ½” in the same hole. I left the other old bolt as a relic for future passersby to see. Rage was swelling up inside me. I set it aside until I finished the raps to the base.

On the hike out I got more and more worked up. Today was not going to end well for these guys if I had anything to say about it. As I walked up the last bit of dirt road into camp I was on fire. Then, for the second time that day, I couldn’t believe my eyes. They’d packed up and left.

Mar 8, 2018 - 08:54pm PT

i’m somewhat speechless.

holeee shIt is that beyond fUcked up.

without your explaining to them you wanted everything backed up?

sure... just some surprising but still somewhat garden variety incompetence...

but as it stands?

that’s some not so garden variety attempted murder...

jayzeus. glad you didn’t bounce too much getting the ole anchors out...
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