In the past couple weeks, I’ve read some good trip reports, but a few sentences in two of them in particular got me thinking. Thinking what Rando you ask? Well, I’m wondering when it’s okay, or acceptable, to remove and take climbing gear set-up for rappel anchors and when one should leave them for those that follow? Here are the quotes I’m referring to – the authors and names of the runs have been omitted to protect the innocent (or guilty?).
If I was skiing a line and came upon a rappel station that I didn’t use, to me, the prudent thing to do would be to leave the gear there. Everyone’s abilities and comfort levels are different and under similar conditions, one person’s down-climb might be another person’s rappel. Snow conditions can also change dramatically in the mountains from year-to-year (or even week-to-week) and one year a particular line might mandate a rappel by all descentionists, while the next year it might be filled in to the gills with rappels completely unnecessary. Why not leave a rappel anchor in place for when a rappel might be needed?
Also, if I had built and rappelled off an anchor in a couloir one week, and then returned the next week to see that the anchor had been removed, I think I’d be kind of pissed off, especially if I assumed that the anchor should be there. This could also be the beginning of a serious epic, since I may not have brought the appropriate or enough gear to make another rappel anchor.
I can see how some people might say that the mountains should remain as clean and untainted as possible, and every skier should be prepared to deal with all circumstances that are put in front of them. But, to what point? And who decides what anchors can remain and which can stay?
Would it be okay to remove all the anchors in the Ford/Stettner Route on the Grand Teton? Or what about an anchor at the top of the crux in the Apocalypse Couloir? I’ve passed on using a few of these anchors under the right conditions in the past, but I’ve also used them when the conditions warranted a rappel instead of down-climbing or side-stepping. When I didn’t use them though, I didn’t think I should dismantle them and take the gear as booty.
I’m sure this is an age-old debate amongst the climbing community and there are probably many different viewpoints. What is yours?
I agree with you steve, leave it if its there. My main priority is coming home in one piece and sometimes it’s nice to have the safety of a rappel. Most of these lines are where the masses will never go and never see the slings or gear. I always find it comforting that someone else found it necessary to rappel or rope up in the same spot. The best part is if you don’t want to use the gear, you don’t have to. But to each his own 🙂
I say clean up old tat, leave fixed pieces out of courtesy to those that follow, and always try to bring an extra sling and nut/pin just in case. It’s different than climbing booty where the pieces are often left behind on the way up unintentionally because they are stuck. In that case, it’s fair game. I agree with your above points regarding raps and ski descents. The conditions vary…leave the gear.
As the author of the second quote Ill stick with my choice and provide some explanation. The foremost reason was to return the cord and biner to its original owners since I know in my situation (cheap poor ski bum) leaving even something as small as some cord and an biner hurts the wallet. You can remove the X’s and put a date on that quote if you want Steve, so maybe I can get this gear back to the owner. Also I think going into the mountains to climb and/or ski an established route without either scouting it or bringing gear for the worst conditions is ill advised. It may just be that I learned anchors/protection on rock as opposed to snow but do you guys really trust webbing/cord/protection you just find in the mountains? If Im dangling off something I think Id rather know I placed it and its entire history.
I could be totally ignorant but are rap stations more likely set w/ nuts while a random cam is more likely booty?
“Every skier should be prepared to deal with all circumstances that are put in front of them” kind of says it all. Beyond that I agree with Aaron about knowing the entire history of said gear.
There is a certain irony that this sentence:
“… I may not have brought the appropriate or enough gear to make another rappel anchor.”
…is almost immediately followed by this one:
“… and every skier should be prepared to deal with all circumstances that are put in front of them.”
If you “can see how some people might say that the mountains should remain as clean” then it should be reasonably assumed that there is at least the possibility that your anchor won’t be there when you return, and you should be prepared for that.
To me, it doesn’t really matter what I think are proper ethics or the “right thing to do.” What ultimately matters is that there isn’t, and never will be, an across-the-board consensus. The fact that I think my anchor should’ve been left where I set it up isn’t going to help me when I need it on my next trip and I find that someone has taken it with them. What will help me is the extra gear I brought in the event the previous anchor was gone.
now don’t get me wrong, i wouldn’t head towards either of these descents without the proper gear to get out safely. the same way that even though i know that there are anchors on the otterbody route on the grand teton, i’m not about to ski it without the right gear to get off the mountain safely. but i also know that if i skied up to some gear that was placed before where i might need to rappel, I would probably test it, back it up with another placement and in the end…rap off it.
I think Andy above nailed it.
I’m almost certain that the 2 cams found (.75 and HB) are mine…or were mine, left from the same ski descent at least 3 years ago. I probably would have gone back for them after the rap but I was already overdue. I very much dislike leaving gear in the mtns…it can tarnish the alpine or natural feel and possible misguide a party in the wrong direction…I think my entire set of nuts consists of booty less a couple. Anyways, keep the mountains clean…take the gear home.
thanks mandragouras. that looks like a fun line.
Mandragouras–I’ve got your booty if you want it back. The sling is sketchy, but the ‘biners are still good, and the .75 could be used again if you resling it. Give me a shout: http://www.outerlocal.com.
Lot’s of ways to skin this cat and detailed above. The only thing I would add is my personal hybrid. If I’m using an in situ anchor and I can replace the cam with a bomber nut, I’m taking the cam. Sorry, but that shit is expensive and should not be left to rot in the mountains.
I wouldn’t touch gear. First, it’s not mine, and second I’m not going to take it upon myself to judge someone else’s preparedness and/or possibly negatively impact their trip. And it’s not the end of the world if it stays there.
I leave good anchors and take the junk.
My two bits: “Caveat Emptor” in the mountains. You can’t expect an anchor to be where you wish it to be, even if you left gear on a previous trip.
Bolts, and perhaps, pitons, can be seen as “fixed” gear at belay stations and/or rappel points. It is dangerous to trust placements without any knowledge of their history, and certainly climbers/skiers in the mountains should never depend on expecting gear to be in situ.
I think all hand placed gear should be removed, and slings/cord should also be removed (as one should not really trust an in situ sling anyway, as who knows its provenance). Piton removal is a little different, as removing it will create damage-I think a bomber piton left fixed is a wise move to avoid any additional damage.
I have no problem with skiers/climbers removing hand placed gear, biners, and slings-as if I am making a descent I would rather not find fixed anchors-I would rather experience the line in its natural state, and be responsible for getting down safely on my own, making my own decisions, and not necessarily being prompted to rappel by the presence of a fixed anchor.
I have left gear in the mountains when safety mandated doing so, and I do regret leaving gear because I would rather leave the line in the same condition I found it.