/ Portland top roping ethics
I know that if you're planning a serious top-roping session on a sport route at Portland (or presumably in a lot of other places) it's considered good practice to run the rope through a couple of your own quickdraws rather than contribute to trashing the lower-offs.
How strictly is this applied? Will you get shouted at if you're just giving your mate a quick bash at a route after you've lead it? If you're climbing with someone less good than you (or with someone significantly better than you, mutatis mutandis) this would mean that it'd almost never be worth letting them "have a go" at a route after you've finished, since you'd probably end up having to climb it again yourself to get the quickdraws back. But if that's the ethic then fair enough, it's a good incentive to keep leading stuff...
It's only really an issue if you are climbing with absolute beginners who don't have the cheating 'skills' to pull past a move they can't do, and get to the point where they just want to come down.
If you are talking about someone who onsights 6b having a play on a 7a, say, then there will be very very few routes that you can't get to the top of with a bit of creative thinking - most moves should go if you have a bit of a rest first, say, or failing that - rope tension through a hard move, 'the assisted dyno!', using bolts as footholds, or if all else fails pulling up on a draw or on the rope. To be honest on Portland if you are a competent climber and you are not sure you are going to make it to the top, it's probably better to try it on lead as you can always thread a staple mid way when you want to bail.
In a sport climbing context it basically is.
and it isn't, really, there is no top rope police who will give you a hard time (yet) but you see the wear on the staples on some of the popular lower grade routes and it does really make you think it's better to be part of the solution than part of the problem.
Cool, that all makes sense. Thanks everyone!
On the off chance that we can feel our fingers for long enough to climb anything this weekend, we'll do it by the book...
True that! :-)
There's no 'law', but it is considered bad form not to use your own equipment at the top, especially if the next climber isn't going to lead. My personal preference is to leave draws at the top when stripping the route if the next climber is going to lead it (even if I'm not climbing with them) and get them back myself if the last person up doesn't make it. In some places, like the Veranda, it is possible to retrieve the draws by leaning over from above, or on many routes one can retrieve them from the top of the next route with a short traverse or simply by reaching over, in which case I don't lower off the staples at all. I have been known to thread a 'top rope' (bottom rope/whatever) at the end of the day when my partner wants to try a route I don't think he'll make it up, not best practice but I won't do it if my rope has got dirty and I believe my other efforts to reduce wear on the lower offs outweigh these occasional transgressions.
Isn't it easier to stick in a couple of opposing draws than thread it anyway? Is the other person unable to thread and strip the route on their go? If so they shld learn at some point!!
I think the point is that if everyone does this (ie. top ropes directly through the lower off), it accelerates the wear on the staples. This is not theoretical, continental-drift type wear, this is actually significant on a lot of routes, and replacing staples is not a trivial problem, eg see here:
for this reason it really is better to top rope through your own quickdraws, even though this may introduce some personal inconvenience.
"there is no top rope police who will give you a hard time (yet)."
If I see people top roping directly through the loweroff bolts I often go and have a chat with them and show them a picture of the worn bolts. Most people don't realise toproping is doing damage.
We have started adding 'pigtails' (supplied by the Dorset Bolt Fund) to some of the newer lower grade routes to reduce wear and tear.
The Veranda, Bower and Battleship slab areas have pigtails fitted on most routes so there is no need to thread the loweroff. You can just pull the rope down when the last climber is finished.
Hope that helps.
Cool, thanks for all your efforts!
@ Wilbur: I'm not worried about my second's ability to re-thread competently, I'm worried about their ability to get to the top at all! Probably isn't going to be an issue on this occasion, but it seemed worth knowing what the accepted ethic is.
Those pigtails are great, they significantly reduce the faff over a full days climbing, thanks!
I've approached folk at Portland suggesting they don't thread staples directly. Ignorance of the problem is the usual response but I also get buck-passing "our instructor told us to do it", defensiveness: "what is the problem ... there's nothing wrong with top-roping", and laziness: "we didn't want to leave draws up there in case X couldn't get up the route".
I ask the same people if they have contributed to the Dorset Bolt Fund and always get the same response: embarrassed silence.
The latest Dorset Rockfax now gives clear guidance on avoiding this practice, a welcome development.
A fantastic addition to those routes, that said some of the light weight securing guard part of those pig tails appears to have been used to lower from judging by how badly they are bent.
Don't think you're talking about the pigtails here - they're made from one continuous piece of 12mm stainless steel. Perhaps you mean the old monster hooks?
Hi Adam - how is the stock of the pig tails - I can get more if you need them.
I have asked John to check how many we have left and let you know.
Hi John - I'm back in the UK in Mid March, so will sort another order then. Remind me if I forget (which is highly likely).
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