/ NEW ARTICLE: VIDEO: How To Rig a Top Rope

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
UKC Articles - on 03 Mar 2010
[Top roping makes it easy to coach or give encouragement, 3 kb]This brand new UKC mini-series combines words, photos, diagrams and video to make clear some of the trickier technical aspects of climbing to grasp.

With the most up top date info possible it uses the stunning images of Mike Robertson, video clips from Get Out On Rock and diagrams from Rock Climbing Essential Skills and Techniques.

Here professional mountain guide Libby Peter shows us how to rig a top rope.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2263

3leggeddog on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

Like forest gump, this will run and run.

Trolling on your own site, an interesting development!
Michael Ryan - on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to 3leggeddog:

What?
Ghastly Rubberfeet on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> (In reply to 3leggeddog)
>
> What?

Articles promoting top roping, I presume, Mick.

;~))
3leggeddog on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Just anticipating the usual suspects ranting about topropes, a little early in the year for the annual TR rant season to start or it could just be that we have had the best drytool rant season for over 20 years?
Hardonicus - on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to 3leggeddog: I agree. Those little freaking 5 year olds should be leading not polishing 3 star classics. Hell most of 'em climb better than me anyway with there strength-to-weight ratios.
Ghastly Rubberfeet on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to Hardonicus:
> there.

Shall we get the spelling pedant out too, while we're at it?

their

;~))
Michael Ryan - on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to 3leggeddog:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)
>
> Just anticipating the usual suspects ranting about topropes, a little early in the year for the annual TR rant season to start or it could just be that we have had the best drytool rant season for over 20 years?

Yes, Jack and myself discussed that this morning before the article was published. How long would it take before someone rants about top roping?

Setting up a top rope is as we know an essential skill for every climber and mountaineer irrespective of ability or experience.
Hardonicus - on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to Ghastly Rubberfeet: We might as well cover all bases...
NickD - on 03 Mar 2010
This is great! Can we have follow-up articles that help us to set up appropriate belays (top- or bottom-rope) for the grit classics?
3leggeddog on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> (In reply to 3leggeddog)
> [...]
>
> Yes, Jack and myself discussed that this morning before the article was published. How long would it take before someone rants about top roping?

Does my ranting about the ranters prevent their ranting?
>
> Setting up a top rope is as we know an essential skill for every climber and mountaineer irrespective of ability or experience.

Yup

GrahamD - on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

I guess one problem with articles like this is that the bit that really needs some experience:

"...you need to find two or three bombproof anchors that are appropriately located in line with the climb, avoid cams and small wires where possible. "

is covered in two sentences.
Richard White on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

I haven't seen article no.1 or watched the video yet so my concern may be highlighted in there.

There is no mention in the article of safeguarding oneself whilst building the system for a bottom or top rope.

As an MIA holder, teaching building belays whether it is for a bottom or tope rope, the issue of self protection at the top of a crag is crucial.

This is an aspect I would cover before even going into the actual belay construction.

A good article but this aspect of personal safety (if not in article no.1 or the video) should have been included.

Rich.
In reply to Richard White: check the video out and see if it answers your questions.
In reply to Richard White:
>
>
> There is no mention in the article of safeguarding oneself whilst building the system for a bottom or top rope.
>
>

Like clipping into the belay sling whilst working near the edge, as in the video for example?

Chris
Richard White on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to grumpybearpantsclimbinggoat:

Thanks for the suggestion, I hadn't thought of that myself!

Unfortunately, I don't have access to video at present as I'm accessing this on my mobile. However, when back home after work, I will do just that.

Rich.
In reply to Richard White: Chris has answered it for you.
NickD - on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to Richard White:
> There is no mention in the article of safeguarding oneself whilst building the system for a bottom or top rope.
>
> As an MIA holder, teaching building belays whether it is for a bottom or tope rope, the issue of self protection at the top of a crag is crucial.

I think it is dreadful that so-called "mountain leaders" would think about trying to make themselves safe at the top of a crag without first making sure it safe to do so.

Kids: always tie to a belay before building a belay prior to arranging a belay.
Richard White on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Thanks Chris, don't need to watch the video now.

Rich.
The Mole - on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> Setting up a top rope is as we know an essential skill for every climber and mountaineer irrespective of ability or experience.

I've been climbing for about 5 years - indoors, cragging, winter, alpine - all at a moderate level and I'm not sure I have ever set up a top rope.

I have however soloed easy routes, built a belay and brought up a beginner. Does that count?
Offwidth - on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

"Setting up a top rope is as we know an essential skill for every climber and mountaineer irrespective of ability or experience."

I go on refresher courses every few months ... doesn't everyone?
sutty on 03 Mar 2010
In reply to Offwidth:

Never been on the course, think I had better do so.

Perhaps 'setting up a bottom rope' would be more accurate.
dave4430 - on 04 Mar 2010
In reply to sutty:

> Perhaps 'setting up a bottom rope' would be more accurate.

Top top-rope or bottom top-rope?!

it's the first part of the article read fully before post maybe?
muppetfilter - on 04 Mar 2010
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to Richard White)
> [...]
>
> Like clipping into the belay sling whilst working near the edge, as in the video for example?
>
> Chris

A note of caution about the forces both on the anchor and climber generated falling onto a static sling may be well worth mentioning though Mr Craggs.Thats why industrial lanyards have shock absorbers.
Michael Ryan - on 04 Mar 2010
In reply to muppetfilter:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
> [...]
>
> A note of caution about the forces both on the anchor and climber generated falling onto a static sling may be well worth mentioning though Mr Craggs.Thats why industrial lanyards have shock absorbers.

It is mentioned.

Stuart (aka brt) - on 04 Mar 2010
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

It is mentioned - with the fuzzy logic "it's not a good idea to fall on a sling so try not to fall" statement. Use something that will work or don't fall in the first place then! Not a good example in what is supposed to be (I assume with the input from a Guide and top level climber) a best practice article.
Michael Ryan - on 04 Mar 2010
In reply to brt:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)
>
> It is mentioned - with the fuzzy logic "it's not a good idea to fall on a sling so try not to fall" statement. Use something that will work or don't fall in the first place then! Not a good example in what is supposed to be (I assume with the input from a Guide and top level climber) a best practice article.

Yes it is explicitly.... "slings have virtually no stretch so at all cost avoid falling of on to a cow tails sling as it would create a very high impact loading"

"

Stuart (aka brt) - on 04 Mar 2010
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> (In reply to brt)
> [...]
>
> Yes it is explicitly.... "slings have virtually no stretch so at all cost avoid falling of on to a cow tails sling as it would create a very high impact loading"
>
> "

It is explicitly mentioned, we've both expressed that view; why show it then? It's contradictory and potentially confusing for those to whom this "educational" video is meant.

Slings are great for work positioning. If you need to arrest a fall then you need something dynamic.
In reply to UKC Articles:

I think the use/pitfalls of the Italian Hitch need a bit more explanation for newbies.


Chris
MG - on 04 Mar 2010
In reply to brt:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com)
> [...]
>
> It is explicitly mentioned, we've both expressed that view; why show it then?

The sling is clipped to a dynamic rope at the other end.
Stuart (aka brt) - on 04 Mar 2010
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to brt)
> [...]
>
> The sling is clipped to a dynamic rope at the other end.

Not in this instance it's not.

Offwidth - on 04 Mar 2010
In reply to sutty:

I look down on you bottom ropers.
rspijker - on 04 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: Am I the only one having a problem using an ATC (or alike) in a top-top-rope situation as depicted in the picture. In my opinion not enough friction in this situation because both rope ends go downward creating the same effect as looping the rope through a carabiner, having one bend in your rope and not 2 as under normal usage of an ATC.
goingupintheworld - on 04 Mar 2010
In reply to rspijker:

No, both ends of the rope should not be going down. You still need to be able to lock of the rope behind the ATC. If you can't do this then either you or the ATC, or both, is in the wrong position. You will never be able to hold a fall with the arrangement you descibed (as I understand it...)
rspijker - on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to goingupintheworld: that's right. see top of page 52 on http://petzl.com/files/all/en/activities/sport/tech-tips-multi-pitch-climbing.pdf. Not only in a lead climbing situation although much more serious in that case. Hope UKclimbing will make this clear as well
stewieatb on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to rspijker: It looks weird in the picture because she's in the middle of taking in slack.
Parrys_apprentice - on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to Richard White:

so you've just laid into the video's failures, but haven't watched the video?

I agree that good practice should be shared, but why do people with some level of qualifications go about assuming other's teaching is bound to have mistakes in it that only their level of qualification or wisdom will correct.

I guess people who stand up and say, "do it this way" are probably ready and capable of dealing with such flak, but come on. Constructive criticism!
Alexandre Buisse - on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to rspijker: That's because you are not using it properly, you should have the belaying hand by your hip, just like when you belay a leader, the only difference being that it will end up being higher than the belay device.
That being said, and though it's outside of the scope of this article, top-top rope belaying from a harness really sucks, especially when there is the lovely solution of setting up a Reverso/ATC guide in auto-block mode directly from the anchor. It's been a while since I've belayed a second from my harness.
Dave Garnett - on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to Alexandre Buisse:

Actually, I think that belaying from the harness is intrinsically safer. Belaying directly from any anchor depends entirely on the security of that anchor. Yes, you need to know how to escape the system (not relevant in this case) but it's an extra level of security (that also works when the available anchors are few and/or poor).

A really serious accident in a 'traditional' toproping scenario requires not only for all the anchors to fail but also for the belayer to be pulled over the edge. Actually, in most cases, almost no extra force is put on the anchors by a fall because the belayer absorbs most of it (and doesn't get pulled over the edge). In fact, I've never heard of it happening.

Bottom-roping belaying directly from an anchor at the bottom is a particularly poor idea unless the anchors both top and bottom are beyond doubt (ie massive threads at the bottom and equally irreproachable threads or bollards at the top). How often does that happen? Couple this with the lack of experience commonly associated with bottom-roping and it's not, in my view, the safest way of doing it.
Alexandre Buisse - on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to Dave Garnett: While you are correct that the stance adds extra safety, the only thing I can say is that if you don't think your anchor can handle the small force generated by a fall of your second, then you have no business calling it an anchor and should not be connected to it in the first place (in a cragging context, alpine or winter is another story). If your anchor is good, then the advantages of the ATC in guide mode far outweigh the added safety of belaying from your harness (by making it more comfortable for everyone, allowing the belayer to hydrate/rerack/stack ropes/guide second/haul second/etc...). Plus it's easier to screw up a belay from the top, since most people aren't really used to it, you just have to see a few messages above.

I agree about direct belaying from a bottom anchor, bad idea except in very specific situations.

ads.ukclimbing.com
rspijker - on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to Alexandre Buisse: sorry for the confusion but i'm not talking about the way i'm doing it (still using the italian hitch for a single rope) but what is shown as 'good practice' in mike robertson's diagram and picture which in my humble opinion is not entirely correct and will not give enough friction. This can be overcome by placing a 'dummy runner' correcting the rope position or using 'guide' or 'reverso' variant.
Dave Garnett - on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to Alexandre Buisse:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett) While you are correct that the stance adds extra safety, the only thing I can say is that if you don't think your anchor can handle the small force generated by a fall of your second, then you have no business calling it an anchor and should not be connected to it in the first place

Of course, but how can you know for sure? This is all about reducing the risk for the inexperienced and I've seen some pretty scary belaying. I've never had an anchor fail but how often have I ever really had to rely on them? If there were a general move to direct belaying it seems obvious to me that sooner or later there would be a catastrophic failure or misjudgement. It just doesn't need to happen.

stewieatb on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to rspijker:
Are you referring to the diagram labelled 'Direct Belay 2' or the photo of the little kid climbing a slab on a toprope? In the photo, the belayer is in the middle of taking in slack, which is why the belay device isn't fully locked off. The perspective isn't helping either; the rope is actually taking a 90deg bend out of the device towards her hand, but this is hard to see in the picture because of the angle.
Mark Stevenson - on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: An ok article, but to be honest not amazing. I had hoped for something better than the normal passable rehashes of existing material or trailers for new books or DVDs we get on UKC and in the UK climbing magazines.

It just confirms that reading a book or watching a video isn't a substitute for some decent training and practice. Even in such a short article there are various trivial and not so trivial errors and omissions.

- Protecting yourself whilst rigging. The method Neil shows is certainly better than nothing but isn't ideal as two better methods exist, either tying into an end of the rigging rope or using a prussic which you adjust to keep your sling tight.

- Lateral stability. There is no mention that one of the main reasons we use multiple anchors with top and bottom ropes is to provide lateral stability. The bottom rope Neil rigs has poor lateral stability and the situation shown in the last picture with the belayer connected to a single anchor is appalling in this regard.

- Lowering Off. The hand position in the lowering off graphic is not the one I would teach. It shows the assisting (right) arm coming over the top of the rope instead of underneath. If the belayer may be pulled off his feet this is potentially dangerous as is using the same arm position in normal belaying. There is a real risk of the arm being trapped against the body by the rope in the event of a fall leading to an increased chance of dropping the climber. No mention is made of standing close into the rockface to reduce the inward forces or bracing yourself against it for extra stability.

- Using Cams as anchors for bottom ropes. Neil uses a 1 and 2 Camalot as his second anchor despite this being a poor idea where anchors will be out of sight and the text specifically advising against this.

- Use of blocks and boulders. Placing a rope or sling underneath a gritstone boulder is generally a poor and unnecessary idea even when using a wire to reduce jamming. The rope or sling can generally be brought round onto the top of the boulder quickly resulting in a more secure anchor with less chance of jamming. Given the pronounced notch in the left side of the boulder Neil uses this would clearly have been possible. Also a bowline is quicker to rig and easier to adjust than a figure-of-8.

More trivial issues:
- Belaying. In the 3rd picture the HMS is clipped to the wrong part of the rope loop and the rope is threaded through to wrong half of the belay device.

- Using clove hitches. When using clove hitches in rigging ropes I would ideally expect them to be tied off with a couple half hitches clipped back to the screwgate. This may be overkill but is a useful belt and braces measure when dealing with stiff rigging ropes.

- Lowering off graphic. The top krab is the wrong way round, the gate should be facing away from the rock as clearly shown in the video.

- Direct Belay 2 graphic. It does not seem to show the belay device correctly threaded so the rope is on the back bar side of the belay device.

- Direct Belay graphic. The artist can't draw knots correctly.
jon on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to Mark Stevenson:
> (In reply to UKC Articles) An ok article, but to be honest not amazing.

Realistically Mark, how amazing can you make an article about rigging a top rope?
fimm on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to Mark Stevenson:

The diagrams are out of Libby Peters' book. Look at the copyright.

I don't understand why I need to be able to rig a bottom rope, though. I can lead a climb and build a belay, hence I know about the top rope belaying, but why is the bottom rope technique important for all climbers? (I do understand that there are situations in which it is useful.)
Jamie B - on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to fimm:

> why is the bottom rope technique important for all climbers?

It isnt; that claim stuck in my throat too. But there are a growing number of climbers who would prefer to fanny around top-roping 'ard stuff than get on the sharp end and lead a mere severe. Ken Wilson called them "crag exercisers", other even less complimentary descriptions are available.
nz Cragrat on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to Mark Stevenson:
> (In reply to UKC Articles)
>
> - Using Cams as anchors for bottom ropes. Neil uses a 1 and 2 Camalot as his second anchor despite this being a poor idea where anchors will be out of sight and the text specifically advising against this.
>
This should be in the trivial section. Cam anchors for belay - particularly TR are accepted practice in Guiding and Instruction (obviously outside of the UK).

Gordon Stainforth - on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

Phew! What's happening to this old sport I knew as rock climbing? I was first 'rigging top ropes' on SE Sandstone when I was 16, and I hadn't a clue what I was doing. And all through the 70s down there, and I think into the early 80s, we never used belay plates, because that just wasn't the tradition. Just the rope running round the back of your bum when you leant backwards. At somewhere like Bowles, which is more overhanging, I think we wore gloves, but the norm was to let someone down very rapidly to within inches of the deck, and then hold them. The extraordinary thing is that I don't remember anyone getting hurt, ever. Mind you, none of us by that stage, were really top-ropers in any sense, and spent most weekends up in N Wales leading big routes.
Mark Stevenson - on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to jon:
> Realistically Mark, how amazing can you make an article about rigging a top rope?

The sad thing is that I could probably write something a good 5-6 times longer and significantly more detailed. Will your next question be asking why we have a qualification for rigging top ropes that needing 20 hours training and 20 hours assessment?

Mark Stevenson - on 05 Mar 2010
In reply to fimm:
> I don't understand why I need to be able to rig a bottom rope, though.

Unless you've got a sudden urge to start headpointing hard grit routes I don't know why either. It might be worth asking Mick, since I assume it was his comment about the universal relevance of article that you are referring to.

However if you want a bit of paper so you can get paid for taking kids climbing and abseiling, I can tell you exactly why you need to be able to rig one; the SPA syllabus says so.

The article falls between two stools in that it fails to clearly meet the demands of either recreational climbers or potential instructors.
Mark Stevenson - on 06 Mar 2010
In reply to nz Cragrat:
> This should be in the trivial section. Cam anchors for belay - particularly TR are accepted practice in Guiding and Instruction (obviously outside of the UK).

I'm sure we've had this discussion before.

At the simplistic level we are talking about here, the hierarchy of anchors for belays that is widely taught in the UK is:
1 - natural (threads, boulders, spikes, trees)
2 - passive (nuts and hexes)
3 - active (camming devices).

Therefore I wouldn't expect any instructor to use cams where perfectly good boulders, threads or solid hex placements exist. I also wouldn't expect an instructor with the freedom to select any location for a bottom rope to routinely pick routes where the only anchors are cams.

Given that:
a) this was an instructional video supposedly portraying best practice
b) belay anchors other than cams probably exist for that route
c) other routes with natural anchors certainly do exist in that area
then it is certainly not a trivial issue.
jon on 07 Mar 2010
In reply to Mark Stevenson:
> (In reply to jon)
> [...]
>
> Will your next question be asking why we have a qualification for rigging top ropes that needing 20 hours training and 20 hours assessment?

Well it wasn't going to be... but do tell!


This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.