13. Snow Anchors – Creating a Ballard

In this video we build a snow bollard. This is a type of snow anchor that can be used for rappelling when you have no other anchor options. They are also great because you simply use the snow and your rope, and leave nothing behind.

Bollards can be time consuming to build and finicky to perfect. For this reason we often prefer to rappel off a tree, chockstone, or horn, and might even consider leaving some rock gear behind.

A bollard takes the form of a teardrop, and the size is dependent on the firmness of the snow. The softer the snow, the bigger the bollard needs to be. Be sure the rope’s tension is spread out across enough snow so it doesn’t cut through and fail.

It is important to carve an incut lip into the bollard to avoid the rope slipping off the top.

Loose, unconsolidated, or faceted snow is usually too weak for a bollard.

When multiple people are rapping off, it is wise to back up the bollard with a secondary anchor, perhaps having the heavier partner go first, and letting the last person clean the backup anchor, once the bollard has already been tested. Be sure the backup anchor connection to the bollard is slack, so you have all the weight on the bollard for a sufficient safety test. This bit of slack from the back-up is a critical step when testing a questionable anchor such as a bollard. If the load is shared at all with the backup, you are not adequately testing the anchor.

Include your knowledge of bollards with your understanding of other snow anchors, as shown in our alpine videos.

We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!


Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.