/ What's your worst belay anchor?

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
needvert on 25 Mar 2013
Yesterday on a climb where the belay tree had long since died, I started wondering.

What's the worst belay anchor you've used?
Flashy - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: Friction of my body with the ground probably. Once I dismantled a belay by pulling really hard. One memorable belay didn't consist of much more than me sitting on a hex. By leaving it attached to my harness it meant it dismantled itself when I stood up.
ice.solo - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

backpack half full of wet gravel.

Cheese Monkey - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: One nut between small blocks stuck in the loose bank and a sling i had to sit on on another. Dug my heels in mostly and it was fine
rocky57 - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

Two cams in (very) flared cracks. I couldn't even look at them. Second came up and didn't notice. Set off on lead and banged a bomber in as soon as I'd found a placement.
Pero - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: Someone told me once they'd use a tin of tuna as a snow anchor when doing a crevasse rescue.
mark s - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: my bum sat in heather.
jkarran - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

Probably one I didn't think twice about.

jk
The Pylon King on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

>
> What's the worst belay anchor you've used?

Religion
David Martin - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to needvert)
>
> backpack half full of wet gravel.

Gravel? Pah, don't know how lucky you are. Back in my day it was pack full of saw dust,, stuck to the roof of an overhang, with just spit holding it on.
DaveH70 - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: I got to the top of a frozen water fall where at one point I'd found myself hanging from one axe to find I was being belayed from an inch and a half icicle!
Mark Collins - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: One of my gear loops.
ablackett - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to DaveH70:
> (In reply to needvert) I got to the top of a frozen water fall where at one point I'd found myself hanging from one axe to find I was being belayed from an inch and a half icicle!

I saw a video once of a fella taking a lead fall onto an icicle, it didn't look much thicker than an inch or so. I have always thought that they are surprisingly strong as soon as they touch down if you sling them round the base.

Fraser on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

A single quickdraw threaded through the exposed root of a small, dead bush, 30m up a slab at Mont St Victoire in France.
nniff - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

A few contenders here - all winter - surprise, surprise.

We have:

A sling draped over some icy crust lying on top of bottomless powder, just below the cornice on Hadrian's Wall. That and an equally worthless arse crunched through the same crust into the same powder.


A stitch plate hammered into a crack, which actually may have been quite good.


A single nut that fell out repeatedly.




dutybooty - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: Second vote for friction
AlH - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: Sat astride an inch wide sapling on Jaywalk on the Etive Slabs
pork pie girl - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to nniff: was that the top of pitch 2 of hadrians wall by any chance?

the ass crunched thru has made me laugh ... samefor many winter routes... i have often prayed that my partner doesn't pop off.. especially because i'm usually alot lighter.

pork pie girl - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Pero: lol
pork pie girl - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to nniff: oops sorry... just read that your anchor was beneath the cornice at hadrian's wall... we stepped into the top of zero gully and moved together
ice.solo - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to David Martin:

Yeah but i hear spit had a higher snot content in those days, so its not the same.
DaveH70 - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to ablackett: Ya it had touched down and I'm sure you're right and they are pretty strong, just not really the thing you want to see when you pull over the top after a rather shaky assent! lol Even more so when your partner is sat next to said icicle not connected to the system at all and after I look at the belay then at him he says "well I wasn't following you if you came off"!! It always amazes me what we find funny in the mountains! lol
neuromancer - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

I was once belayed off a skyhook around the edge of a block of slate. I think some bluetack might have been involved though.
jonnylowes - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

I recently had a very unsecure sling around a small bulge that was just screaming to jump off...equalised with a warthog (into turf) that wasn't fully driven home (less than half-way) so used a wire with the nut as close to the base as possible.

Guy was climbing a route next to me, eyes bulging. I said "yeah don't rate this - its the wrost belay I've ever found." His reply was "well at least I'm not tied in...any last wishes?"

Improved the situation by getting my second to tie into a bomber bit of gear below me - a solid cam with leaving an in-situ peg between us (1st runner) and climbing on.
ianstevens - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: Buried my (rather empty) rucksack in a very powdery snowdrift and put a sling round it. Probably would have been fine.
rurp - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: First lead, little chamonix, rope around 2ft thick tree. back to waist,so i thought, but failed to complete the loop!

Therefore belay was the friction of the rope running around the bark. Luckily the two 14 stone seconds didn't fall....
Lord of Starkness - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

I belayed off a hammered in nut key as we had no blade pegs to fit the only available crack on the belay ledge during a first ascent on Wonderslab UAE.

If only some of the runners on the route were as trustworthy -- one was a hand placed peg behind a very hollow sounding flake, and another involved lassoing a spike with a long sling - only to find that the 'spike' was in fact a detached pointy flake that was sat in a cup shaped depression. The belay ledge was 10 metres of run out slab covered in brittle flakey rugosities. A degree of levitation was employed.

It sounds positively 'bomber' compared to other belays mentioned here.
Alex@home - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

can't believe no-one has mentioned that rusting spike in congealed mud in keyhole cave at millstone yet. i didn't enjoy that one
cuppatea on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

Some scary stories! They make the "curious grass warts" (ant hills) at the top of Screda Point sound bomber!
john arran - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

2 or 3 pitches up Half Dome, no anchors whatsoever for as far as the eye could see - maybe off route. Belay 'ledge' was 1" deep and a couple of feet long. Leant against the slab and used a waist belay to keep any pull from second close to the rock. Led up unbelayed, eventually finding a bomber Rock 1 about 30m higher. Both pitches around HVS or so.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Milesy - on 26 Mar 2013
Not a belay, but a runner once was just a hex pushed into the snow and covered up with more snow! It motivated me at the time to push on though lol
Dave Garnett - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to cuppatea:
> (In reply to needvert)
>
> Some scary stories! They make the "curious grass warts" (ant hills) at the top of Screda Point sound bomber!

They are, or at least they usd to be. We never bothered with stakes, that would have been cheating. The standard belay at the top of Baggy used to be walk back a bit and then lie in the hole in the ground. Seemed to work OK.

We did used to put in the occasional peg on the culm. I remember putting one in on Mainsail and being slightly bothered about whether I was damaging the route. Don't feel too bad since the crag fell down.
Al Evans on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: On a new route on Cilan Head once, I used a pile of seagull shit that was all that was available on the ledge until Keith arrived with the bolt kit. This bad belay situation was not unknown on the development of Cilan in the early days :-0)
M0nkey - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: i once got a lot of stick from one of my pals for incorporated stacked rocks (i.e. one wedged upside down beside the other) into a belay. I maintain it was bombproof but he wasn't convinced.
In reply to needvert:

Sat under the Direct Finish to Albion (Lundy) and gripped the granite slab with the cheeks of my arse - couldn't find a single piece of kit any!


Chris
john arran - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:

> Sat under the Direct Finish to Albion (Lundy) and gripped the granite slab with the cheeks of my arse - couldn't find a single piece of kit any!

If he'd fallen off it would have been a crap belay ;-)
gethin_allen on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:
I was climbing Idwal stream and after spending a few min winding a massive screw into some bomber ice and then hammering a deadman in to the neve to make the belay more directional a big fat hairy bloke with probably considerably more experience than myself came up behind, ignoring all possible belay anchors, stamped his feet into the snow and sat down firmly, put the rope around his back and shouted "climb when ready". It made me feel a bit foolish having just built something that could survive a bomb blast but I'm quite sure I'd have been in a better situation in there had been a fall.
Neil Williams - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to gethin_allen:

Given that most of the people I climb with are substantially lighter than me, I could most probably get away with this, but nonetheless I'd still look to do it properly.

Neil
mariannekhoo on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

All 7.5 stone of myself. Topped out on a climb at Bullslaughter Bay and discovered to my horror that the boulder belay was about 2 metres out of reach. Told my second to start climbing and as he was climbing, I inched closer and closer to the boulder until I could sling it.
cuppatea on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to cuppatea)
> [...]
>
> They are, or at least they usd to be. We never bothered with stakes, that would have been cheating.

I used to live a few miles away, Screda was my most local crag. I used the anthills many a time ;-)

> I remember putting one in on Mainsail and being slightly bothered about whether I was damaging the route. Don't feel too bad since the crag fell down.

Noooo! :-( When did it fall down? I climbed mainsail in about 90/91 Pencil notes in my guidebook suggest it was a bit sparse and loose (and that a flexi friend 2 was handy for the second pitch)

Orgsm on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

Two grassy mounds at top of sea cliff
needvert on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to mariannekhoo:

I should have done this in the weekend. Big tree 3m out of reach, not enough slings to extend it to the rope.

Was expecting to have to defend the bomberness of the shrub component of the anchor, but the second was too tired to care.
dutybooty - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert: Not claiming this as my own. But as he's currently in Scandinavia I think he'd like me to share.

To ab into a sea cliff I have a friend who used a small group of accomplices hidden behind a small mound. Apparently it worked fine.
AlH - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to dutybooty: Known as a 'meat anchor' by canyoneers in the States. Build a cairn. Back it up with your group. Send off heaviest first and then progressively lighter folk until the lightest in the team goes off the cairn only...... Glad I'm a big bloke.
Somerset swede basher - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to needvert:

I once abseiled from a single rusty peg insitu in a crack next to an equally ancient looking peg that had snapped. It was about 200m above a glacier. No other options having climbed the route on one 60m rope thinking the other was in the bag when it was actually at the bottom leaving us with twice as many raps as expected to get down. I have never been so scared even after bounce testing it before commiting and pulling the rope down. I hope I am never that scared again.

That and belaying at brean down with nothing but my feet in rabbit holes as the belay stakes were nowhere to be found. The level of fear in this one not even close to option one though.
cuppatea on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Somerset swede basher:

Your mention of a rusty peg reminded me...

Westcott Wattle. <shudder> a name that still chills me. It's a bit like proper Loose Devon Culm, but Cornish.

Picture the scene, January 1991, cold and dark early in the evening.

A fellow intrepid idiot 6th former and myself had set out to climb a route called Alaska, a VS with only one of Iain Peters' (hope I got that apostrophe right!) tombstone marks next to it in the guide and no sign of any stars..

AL had topped out and set up a belay suspiciously fast, which was OK by me as I was by now up to my knees in water and it was nearly dark.

Luckily the guidebook was correct; "protection is conspicuous by its absence" - a phrase I can quote from the good book even now without referencing it, though I have to check the spelling of conspicouios - so despite the growing gloom I had few runners to remove and slow my upward progress.

Arriving at the top I was greeted by the sight of my intrepid friend and the single small cam he was attached to.

By now the bottom of the route was very wet indeed and a swift decision was taken to traverse the ridge top of the slab towards the main cliff.
Thankfully I don't remember how we protected this traverse, was it a new route, did we solo it, or wing it?

Luckily there was a moon and clear skies that night, which allowed us to find a peg, but thankfully not quite enough light to see if it was any good...

Looking at the guidebook now, the first ascent of all three routes on that slab were in 1987 so it was probably one of the newest pegs on the Culm.

We both survived the abseil into what was now waist deep water, and then set about crossing the rocks and water back to the beach and path back to the car. Both of us ended up swimming at one point.

I'll have to go back one day, maybe not to climb the route, but just to laugh at how crazy I used to be.

Sorry to waffle on. It's fun to reminisce even if that particular "worst belay anchor" was much less scary than many of the stories above

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.