Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Mistakes Climbers Make

Sometimes I'm surprised there are any climbers left alive, or, at least, that there aren't way more accidents than there are, mostly when I see videos like this one.

Watch it for yourself and see how many egregious errors you can spot. Oh, I can't help myself, I'll give you some hints.
  • Look for the dude belaying the leader directly off the one piece snow anchor. In May, in what is obviously soft snow. Ask yourself, how the heck he will hold any fall that occurs, if, and this is a really big if, the one piece snow anchor doesn't fail first. Somehow, he'll have to wrap his brake hand up around the back of that snow anchor towards the uphill side of the slope. A good position for a contortionist, a bad position for a belayer.
  • Check out the dude in yellow leading. He crosses to the far side of the ridge. If he falls now, he's going to put an upward pull on the anchor that he is being directly belayed off. Wonder, as I did, how a one piece snow anchor is possibly configured for both an upward and a downward pull. Oh, I guess it don't matter, it's clearly a piece of shit anchor anyway.
  • Keep watching, because you will see a two piece snow anchor later, but, really, it's a one piece anchor again, as the ice-axe that is jammed (vertically) into the snow as a backup is obviously useless. The snow is way too soft - no attempt to even compact the snow has been made - and the pull is off the top of the ice-axe which will simply lever the ice-axe out in the event that any force is applied. Oh, yeah, I'm sure you picked this up - that shovel is in danger of flying down the mountain.
  • If the dude approaching the summit rocks falls, the belayer - she does appear to be at least belaying off her body this time - is going to get to whipped right around in a 180 degree arc, while trying to hold the fall, off a useless snow anchor.
  • The sling over the rock at the summit is supposed to be the main solid belay. Ask yourself how solid it really looks and how well a rock, covered with snow and, possibly loosely held in place by a minor freeze, really is, or at least, how well these dudes have tested it.
  • Finally, cornices pull back when they break. Cornices break on hot sunny days in May.

Points however, for getting an early start.

Safest way to climb snow is to be competent and climb solo

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