"Life is brought down to the basics: if you are warm, regular, healthy, not thirsty or hungry, then you are not on a mountain... Climbing at altitude is like hitting your head against a brick wall - it's great when you stop."

Chris Darwin

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In praise of Abalakov-thread

Now that the winters isn't too far far away, I decided to pay homage to Abalakov thread (aka V-thread), ingenius, yet extremely simple ice anchor. Knowing how to build one efficiently is a necessary skill for anyone planning on doing multipitch ice climbs.

It can be used to bail off a route without the need to leave expensive screws behind. However, it's greatest potential lies in a use as belay anchor. Whenever you can't descent by simply walking down, Abalakov thread is often a better way to rappel than to use trees. Of course, on alpine terrain trees are often not readily available either. But even if you had abundance of sturdy trees, using them usually involves criss-crossing across the fall to get from the tree to next. Meaning that you often can't use the full length off the rope. However, by far the biggest downside of using trees is rope's magical tendency to wrap around them and bushes, making a tedious, and often dangerous, process of retrieving a stuck rope a very real possibility. Using Abalakov's the risk of rope getting stuck is far diminished as you can follow a vegetation-free line.

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