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Gear Guy

Does It Count As a Free Ascent If You Grab the Anchor?

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My question isn’t specifically about gear, rather it is about grabbing gear, so I figure you’ll know something about it. Does it count as a free ascent if you jump and grab the chains, slings or biners at an anchor, or do you have to climb to them and clip the rope while you are holding onto the rock?

—Noseinaday via rockandice.com

There are some people, like many who climb Mount Everest and cheaters in general, who don’t care how they get to the top as long as they get there and have a toilet chair
and a case of Brawndo waiting for them down in C2. Jumping for the anchors makes you exactly like a guided Everest clone humping a ladder bolted in
place by someone else.

Since when did leaping for and grabbing a piece of gear become free climbing? If that is allowed, it is illogical to limit the draw grab to the last bolt.
Jump for the draw on the first bolt, too.

What? You do that already?

Perhaps I am harsh. Having to spring for the anchor chains can be the fault of a moron, a route developer intent on stretching the height of the line
a few feet beyond the reach of actual natural holds, or who wished to add a torrid flourish to their otherwise forgettable namesake. So the fault might
not be yours, although I’ll wager a case of Brawndo that it is.

In my “Code of Conduct,” a pocket guide I copied word for word from George Washington’s “Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation,”
it is noted that you should “Let your recreations be manful, not sinful.” History did not record the route that caused Washington to equate grabbing
chains to visiting a brothel, but his point at least has not been lost. Your actions can either bring honor to your house, or shame.

There is, of course, an additional nuance to proper clipping etiquette. Not only must you clip the chains while you are holding onto the rock, you must
also climb onto the route’s last holds, and if the anchor was thoughtfully installed, you will be level with it, or slightly lower. Sometimes higher,
even.

[Also Read Climber Grabs Draw, Skins Finger]

Some people, of course, aren’t happy with the way things are, or they can’t do the final move to the anchor. (I’ve fallen while pulling up rope to clip
the anchor.) That unhappy lot has found a thousand ways to fudge and is the sort who on a dynamic swing-out move will count the ascent even when the
rope checks the swing, a teeny bit or a lot. This, the roped-climber’s version of the boulderer’s “dab,” makes me sick.

But we were talking about chains, and the acceptable way to clip them. A favorite ploy of cheating cheaters who cheat is to extend the chain so they can
clip them without climbing up to them, or they stretch up and clip the anchor, then take and tick the box in the guide, avoiding the last move or moves.
“But I’m too short!” they say. “And it’s just the chains, I did all the hard moves!”

Sell your Weak Sauce to someone else, I say. With your philosophy—and enough sling—even I could do La Dura Dura. Gear Guy has spoken!

Feature Image: Jumping for the anchors makes you exactly like a guided Everest clone humping a ladder bolted in place by someone else.

This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 222 (November 2014).

Got a question? Email rockandicegearguy@gmail.com