Trip Report
Stoopid Rope Tricks (sorry, no pics)
Thursday January 2, 2014 8:55pm
My wife and I were pulling our rope after rapping off the Eureka bolt anchor atop Rattlesnake Buttress in Joshua Tree. The rope got perma-stuck--welded in place. We couldn't figure out what possibly could have happened--there are a few small plates up near the top but otherwise the route is just blank 5.11 slab, nothing to get stuck on. Luckily there's an easy scramble to the top--I was able to go up and check it out.

She had used a munter hitch to belay me while I followed Taken for Granite (she had left her device at the base). In a crazy fluke, when we pulled the rope, it had *almost* made it all the way through the first ring, but then it somehow (*maybe* aided by munter-induced twists in the end, even though we had both now rapped down it) flipped the ring upside down, so it was sitting on top of the bolt hanger, pinching the rope end underneath the ring. A perfect storm of angles caused any force on the rope, guided by the other ring, to just pinch the first ring down harder on the trapped end.

Even standing at the anchors, without any slab-induced friction, pulling the rope HARD (but still through the second ring) wouldn't budge it. So weird!

Lesson learned? Dunno, man. The munter hitch will twist your rope even if you don't ever weight (and flip) it. It's hard to beat the performance of a dedicated belay device, so you should try to remember to bring it with you. And stuff can go wrong that you can't even begin to imagine, so always try to have a plan B.

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About the Author
phile is a trad climber from SF, CA.

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  Jan 10, 2014 - 05:17pm PT
munter bump!

Big Wall climber
  Jan 10, 2014 - 07:46pm PT
In my experience, I've fount that not only do munter hitches kink the rope like crazy, but they wear out ropes more quickly than an ATC type device due to the rope grinding across itself. They're good for emergencies but that's about it.

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Jan 11, 2014 - 01:46pm PT
Interesting. Thanks for sharing.
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