I need your input on the type of fixed anchors for belay/rap stations at Bishop Peak. About 10 years ago, I started systematically replacing the bolts on various routes at Bishop Peak. These included rap/belay stations on many of the popular or "trade" routes including (but not limited to) Camel, 60 Seconds, Knee Surgery, P-Crack, and Desperado.
Below is a pic of the anchors on 60 Seconds that I replaced in 2004. These are the same as the Camel/Humps anchors. I wanted them to be completely "idiot proof". Literally, someone could show up with nothing but a rope, harness and shoes and start top roping. I have actually seen Cal Poly students sharing 1 set of shoes and 1 harness (they belay off a tree or use a swami harness).
So here's the dilemma. I have unintentionally taught an entire generation of climbers that it is OK to skip setting up your own anchor and to just run the rope through the rings. They also top rope directly through the "courtesy clips" on Only Way to Fly, Lama, Knee Surgery, P-Crack, Shadow & Desperado (among others). When I ask people why they don't set their own anchor, they say that's what someone taught them to do that. That "someone" is often the Poly Escapes instructor or an "experienced climber" that has been climbing at Bishop Peak going on 2 years now. However, before you jump on the "anti-Poly Students" band wagon it's not just Poly Students that do this. I've seen very experienced and competent climbers (15+ years) top roping directly through the anchors on Only Way to Fly and 60 Seconds (among others).
Here's a pic of the "courtesy clips" in case you're unfamiliar with that term. Sometimes they are "mussy hooks" and sometimes they are stainless steel carabiners designed for marine use. The courtesy clips speed up rapping and lowering but are not intended for top roping your fat friend that hangs on the rope more than he climbs. I hate to be critical here, but if you have to "fall your way up a route while yelling "TENSION" the whole time", is it really climbing? Sorry, that's just a pet peeve of mine. I promise to try not to criticize you personally if I see you doing that!
There are 3 problems with top roping directly through the anchor.
One - the new climbers are not learning how to properly set up their own anchors.
Two - the constant top roping does wear out the fixed gear requiring it to be replaced.
Three - the gates on the courtesy clips are getting damaged and not closing properly. The gates on the Knee Surgery anchors were damaged (now replaced) and would not close. This reduces their strength from about 2,250 lbs (working load) to less than 600 lbs. If not properly backed up, this could potentially lead to anchor failure and everything that goes with that.
To mitigate this to some extent, I have extended the chains on the Knee Surgery anchors to limit the load. The specific problem with the Knee Surgery anchor is that the rope pulls hard to the right of the anchors while belaying at the bottom of the gully.
Pic of Before & After Knee Surgery Anchors. You can see how the increased chain length dramatically decreases the stress on each courtesy clip. These were replaced over a year ago and so far they seem to be fine. Plus, I have counseled a few people about the proper way to set up these anchors to avoid this impact. (note - After the 2nd pic was taken, I removed the old courtesy clip on the left side).
So here's where you come in:
1. Should there be a "standard" for all belay/rap anchors at Bishop Peak? If so, what is that standard? Courtesy clips, double rings, chains, etc. Provide details.
2. Should every anchor station be evaluated separately and an anchor set up installed that is custom tailored to each station?
3. Should we just leave things as they are and monitor them? It's not that big a deal to replace rings or quick links every 5 years or so.
A few more notes & pics below to get you thinking.
Doggie Style anchors "Before" and "After".
Wear starting to show on Rings on top of 60 Seconds. Check it out next time you're up there.
This is the original 60 Seconds Anchor. It's on the block up and left of the current anchor location. Not sure when these went out of use. Probably back in the 70s.
These are the original Shadow Anchors. They were only removed a couple years ago. Imagine
top roping from these babies.
These are the anchors above Letterman (2nd pitch after P-Crack). I replaced these a few years ago. They include 2 bolts, 2 quick links, and 2 rings. Pretty simple. The only downside of these is that it takes a while to feed the rope through the rings. Several people have suggested to me that this is the "ideal" anchor setup. Clean, simple, & bullet proof (it only looks messy cuz of the way I'm clipped into it). They also suggested that people can't top rope through these so they will have to set up their own anchor. That may be true in some cases, but I have seen many people top rope directly through ring anchors even when they are set further apart so there's about 8" between the rings or quick links. People top rope directly through the rings/anchors on top of Civilized Evil/Dirty Rats Crack all the time.
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