Worst rap anchors you've ever used


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Trad climber
Doylestown pa
Aug 11, 2013 - 12:29pm PT
It was in the Gunks and it was getting dark. I was a rookie and had no ideas how to avoid a descent in the dark. My partner, Al, joined two ropes with a sheep bend and I was able to do a long rap. He then loaded the knot with his weight on the rap and cut some part of the knot. It held with his weight on it and once down he jiggled the ropes and the knot separated. I never bothered learning how he did it because I knew I was never going to try it!

The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
Aug 11, 2013 - 12:51pm PT
I didn't like the single 1/4" bolt rap anchor at the top of Stoner's back in the day, especially considering I'd already broken a couple 1/4" bolts under body weight.
Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Aug 11, 2013 - 12:53pm PT
The quarter button heads were terrifying across the continent.
Dr. Christ

Mountain climber
State of Mine
Aug 11, 2013 - 12:58pm PT
I clipped the anchors of a route in CO somewhere, only to have one of the two pins pull out under the weight of the rope. I didn't use them, I down cleaned the route.

In the VRG a leaver biner at the anchors that had been so worn through it broke under finger pressure as I opened the gate. I didn't use that one either.

Come to think of it, I have NEVER used bad rap anchors... cuz I ain't stupet.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Aug 11, 2013 - 01:25pm PT
A couple of incidences from are brought to mind from my distant past. These excerpts have appeared here in previously posted stories other threads, but they seem appropriate for review.

The first excerpt from a trip to the Needles in 1965. The second excerpt from a failed-due-to-weather attempt on the Nose in 1963.

Number 1:

“Bob [Kamps], Mark [Powell], Dave [Rearick], and I did a first ascent of the Phallus [in the Needles, SD back in the 60s], where I – being the least experienced - was the last man up and – being the least experienced - was chosen to be the backup to a questionable rappel bolt … and thus – being the least experienced – was the last man down sans backup (the old ‘if it holds the three of us, it’ll hold you’ story).”


“Allan [Bard] knows the many rappels on the escape route [from the Nose], maybe 14 – most from antiquated quarter-inch Rawls placed back in the late sixties by Tom R[hor], the Mad Bolter. We begin our retreat. The wind is blowing from the west so intensely that it’s impossible to stay on course and difficult to find the anchors - even harder to fight our way west to reach them. Fourteen times I find myself next to Allan, our total weight suspended in nylon slings from two smarmy, almost thirty-year-old Rawls on a blank vertical wall of granite, [many] hundreds of feet above the valley floor. Each time we pull down the rappel line from the two anchors above we reduce our security by half and raise our anxieties proportionately. I’m still wondering, Why are we here?”

Trad climber
Salt Lake City
Aug 11, 2013 - 01:40pm PT
Perhaps not the very worst, but a few high(low?)lights:
Karma Flake was the original rappel anchor from Queen Victoria in Sedona

This buried pile of rocks anchors the 120+ footer that ends Mindbender Fork in Robbers Roost
Kinda messy but adequate to get off of Sparkling Touch Spire in the Bridger Jacks
And of course, most any drilled anchors in Arches soon end up looking like this one on the Three Penguins

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 11, 2013 - 01:48pm PT
I think one of the classic scariest rap anchors of all time has to be the last rappel that Jim Bridwell and Mugs Stump made on the final descent, after their long, difficult and harrowing first ascent of the East face of the Moose's Tooth. This was a climb plagued with bad weather and severe cold, lots of climbing on 1/4" or 1/2" verglas on 75 to 85 degree granite, so that instead of kicking into it with crampons, it was necessary, with every step, to first SET the points into the ice, and then very carefully to stand up onto them, so as not to shatter the ice. Often with very little pro and long runouts.

As Bridwell told it, it was Mugs' turn to make the next-to-last rap and set up the last anchor. Having left a lot of pieces already for rap anchors, they were both pretty much out of gear at that point, but Mugs thought he had something left.

So Mugs rapped on down. When Bridwell got down to that last stance, he looked at the anchor. It consisted of a single #1 BD small wire, in a rotten bottoming crack. Bridwell looked at Mugs and said "That's it?" and Mugs said, "That's it." Fortunately it held, and they made it down to the glacier safe and sound.
The Frog

Trad climber
West Allis WI
Aug 11, 2013 - 03:17pm PT
I was climbing at Smith Rocks for the first time and we did this route which I believe was called 'Flakes Away,' a 5.9 crack to about a 12 foot diameter flake. You had to undercling the flake and layback/smear your way around the base, up the left side and over the top. As I moved up, pieces of rock flaked off the back of the flake and rained down on my belayer. Worst was at the top: there were a couple of maybe 8 inch dishes where someone had obviously tried to drill anchor bolts and the rock simply shattered out around the drill--no bolts. The anchor was a 12 inch chockstone wedged behind a part of the flake with a half-dozen slings around it and a couple of rap rings. My partner got to the top and we both looked around for anything else--no luck. As he went over the edge, he said, "If this fails, tell my mother I love her." I replied, "I'll yell it real loud on the way by," since we were both anchored into this particular piece of choss. Obviously we both got down OK, but on a trip back some years later, I couldn't find this route. It's also not in any guidebook; apparently the big flake failed...

Trad climber
Aug 11, 2013 - 07:07pm PT
Don't blame me for that 1/4 " bolt-Nose. If you read my recording of the rap I did in 1969 you will find I was using 3/8" Star Dryvins X 2" deep or more (2 each anchor) until we got to the bottom end and used 1/4" and 3/8" combined because my supply of 3/8" drill bits was being nearly gone.
Info in ROHRER RAP BOOK on supertopo site
Nudge Nudge

Trad climber
Aug 11, 2013 - 09:40pm PT
Sierra Ledge Rat, funny you start this thread.... Here's me bailing on your route, North Rib of Dana.
Tried not to weight the rope too much, but it did get a core shot from sh#t falling down.

Trad climber
Aug 11, 2013 - 09:46pm PT
Fossil climber

Trad climber
Atlin, B. C.
Aug 11, 2013 - 11:17pm PT
How about a rap point of a single wrap around a huge angular block with 1/4" braided nylon cord bought from a surplus store, guaranteed by the greasy proprietor to be 1000 lb. test?

How in hell do we make it this far?

How about that, Jerry?


Trad climber
Aug 12, 2013 - 04:51am PT

'cause a picture says more than a thousand words.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 13, 2013 - 04:22pm PT
Nice stuff!!!!

Trad climber
Aug 13, 2013 - 06:05pm PT
The one on the top of the Brecha de Los Italianos (1000 foot saddle between Poincenot & Fitzroy). We were descending after climbing for 24 hours straight, much of it in white out conditions.
They held my partner who rapped first.
It however failed to hold me, who fell past my partner and then an additional near-vertical 300 meters onto the glacier below. Lucky for me, falls don't kill climbers, landings do.
Landed on the most perfect 45% angle, powder cushioned bersgrund at the base.
And after breaking most of my bones, waking from a coma induced by a massive head injury, I walked out of the hospital 5 months later.
Do I actually remember the anchor? No, but I am sure it was a couple of rusty old pitons held together by a rat's nest of manky, sun bleached webbing

The Granite State.
Aug 13, 2013 - 06:11pm PT
That doesn't sound so bad.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Aug 13, 2013 - 06:13pm PT
Jesus Riska.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 13, 2013 - 07:54pm PT
...after breaking most of my bones, waking from a coma induced by a massive head injury...

Er.... I think we have a winner for "The Worst Rap Anchor Ever."
Slabby D

Trad climber
B'ham WA
Aug 13, 2013 - 08:12pm PT
So you just whipped by your partner. Presumably with all the rope. What happened to him? Is he still up there?

Your story is too good! It needs mire detail!

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
Aug 13, 2013 - 08:45pm PT
we have a winner!( no Locker he doesn't actually win anything)
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