When it comes to dedicated snow anchors, nothing beats the simplicity, strength and versatility of the classic Snow Stake, also known as a Picket, Snow Fluke or Snow Pig. They are the ultimate do-it-yourself piece of climbing equipment involving not much more than a length of angle aluminum, a drill, hacksaw and some beer.
Placed correctly, pickets (as I call them) can be unbelievably strong and provide a secure anchor in the middle of a blank field of snow for belaying, hauling, rappelling or lowering. The metal ones are usually retrieved, although skiers have been known to make bio-degradable versions out of stout wood if they anticipate leaving them for a rappel.
A few years ago I was attending an AMGA Ski Guides Course when the instructor made an off-hand comment about how his picket was so strong it could hold ten people. We all immediately challenged the claim, and after whacking it in and clipping a rope on to it, we lined ten people up and pulled as hard as we could. The rope almost broke, but the picket held strong. Pickets can be so reliable that it is easy to take them for granted, which can lead to accidents. In 2003, four climbers died on Mt. Tasman in New Zealand as a result of a failed picket, which lead Don Bogie to conduct an exhaustive study on how to build, place, clip and best use them in all sorts of snow.
Help support StraightChuter.com and keep your liver intact & anchors stout with an MSR Coyote Snow Picket from Backcountry.com! Click on the photo below…
Category: 02 Gear