/ Trad climbing ethics

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cheek to the rock - on 11 Aug 2013
I new to this so please dont blast me for saying this,but :) If top ropings considered cheating then how you ment to get started.I cant afford a rack yet.I have a rope,slings and beaners.Am i spioling all the routes i do by top roping them?
JDal - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock:

You could join a club, I'd have thought that was the easiest solution.

And yes, you are rather spoiling the experience of onsighting if you top rope stuff you'd like to lead. Unless your memory's as bad as mine, when it doesn't really make any difference ;)
Frank the Husky - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock: Top roping isn't considered cheating, and anyone who tells you that is an idiot.

If you top rope something you're not spoling anything, you're simply taking your first step on the road to the "full trad climbing experience" (whatever that is) so chill out, top rope stuff and learn. Joining a club is a good idea as there'll be loads of people who will be able to help you along.
woody0606 on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock: As long as you don't hog a route for an whole afternoon or let 10 of your mates dog their way up it in trainers, then you're not spoiling it for anyone.
You might want to invest in a set of nuts asap to give yourself more options for anchors though.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock: Nothing wrong with toproping even the pro's do it. The only thing people object to is comercial organisations putting top ropes on 10 routes at a crag with 20 easy routes and leaving them there all day.
cheek to the rock - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to JDal: I dont really want to climb indoors and by the time i can afford a rack i will of forgot the routes anyway :)
cheek to the rock - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to Frank the Husky: cheers frank im gonna go with what you said pal :)
Craigyboy13 - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock: why dont you do a bit of sport as well then? or find someone who already has a rack :)
pebbles - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to JDal: "join a club" is not an automatic solution for everyone wanting to get started. not all clubs (specially smaller clubs)have the resources to teach absolute novices. on the other hand almost all climbing walls run beginners course - thats how a lot of people get started, probably the majority now I would guess.
cheek to the rock - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to pebbles: I tried my local and it was 60 to learn to belay first and you had to bring a mate,so that was 120 before i could start,and the guy that shared this infomation with me seemed like a bit of an arse.so i never bothered.
cheek to the rock - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to Craigyboy13: Im on my 2nd m.i.a freebe lol
JDal - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock:
> (In reply to pebbles) I tried my local and it was 60 to learn to belay first and you had to bring a mate,so that was 120 before i could start,and the guy that shared this infomation with me seemed like a bit of an arse.so i never bothered.

Your local club??? Which club was that, they sounds stupid.

Our club (Northumbrian MC so probably no use for you) would welcome you for 25 a year so long as you can belay and tie in. You'd then meet plenty of people who'd help you along the outdoor path. I think our approach is the norm. You don't need any resources to take on adults who can belay and top rope.
pebbles - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock: if you book a 1:2 session it will be expensive compared to signing on to a regular course. my local wall will do you a series of three sessions for a total of 90 at the end of which you will be able to climb and nelay someone else safely on a top rope. doesnt seem hugely expensive if youve got a serious long term interest in the sport, or you can do a 30 taster session if you just want to give it a try.
Dave Cumberland - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock:
> I new to this so please dont blast me for saying this,but :) If top ropings considered cheating then how you ment to get started.I cant afford a rack yet.I have a rope,slings and beaners.Am i spioling all the routes i do by top roping them?

Yu start lark that fella Joe Brown shtarted an' his mate Don Whillans. They had less moni than thee lark. Yer muss be jokin'.

andrewmcleod - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to woody0606:

Out of interest what is the acceptable number of friends (obviously approximately)? I set up some top ropes (one at a time) today for me and three non-leading but climbing-shoe-wearing friends.

I guess since we didn't really see anyone else it doesn't really matter, but obviously if the crag was a bit more busy?
cuppatea on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock:

Nothing wrong with top-roping!

The only reason the professional climbers lead their sport routes is because they can't top rope overhanging rock without a big swing when they fall off ;-)

Have fun climbing and don't worry about the ethics of top roping just yet.
pebbles - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to JDal:
>You don't need any resources to take on adults who can belay and top rope.

you do actually - you need to have some members willing and with enough experience to take time out to take beginners up easy routes on a top rope. if the beginners cant lead belay then they will also need to be taught to do that safely before they can belay anyone leading a route. This sometimes works well, specially where the club has members in the process of taking instructor qualifications, but you cant just say to a novice climber who has only previously top roped indoor routes "I'm off to do Great Western, would you like to belay me and then second me and clean the gear?"
r0x0r.wolfo - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to andrewmcleod: that's fine i'd say. It's good to be friendly, and chat to anyone who appears to have an interest in the route your doing.

r0x0r.wolfo - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to pebbles:
Not contradicting anything you're saying here, its pot luck to how much confidence the person you're teaching has. I've taught kids to second multipitch in a session or two but kids are so much better at picking this stuff up.

cheek to the rock - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to Dave Cumberland: I just watched him do cemerty gates 30 years after he first did it.First time ive layed eyes on the man...Hes now my climbing hero lol
cheek to the rock - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to pebbles: I met a guy on the crag thats been helping me (tim).I have also been a guinea pig for a few m.i.a instructors from plas y brenin.I going capel curig again in 2 weeks...cant wait.
cheek to the rock - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo: I find climbers to be a freindly bunch,not clicky at all,well not at my local wilton anyway.When i did the grooved arete with an m.i.a guy there was 3 set,s of us with me and my mate in the middle and we all had the crack at every stance,was a crackin day.
pebbles - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo: and youre happy being lead belayed by them? I would always want to have somebody just learning to lead belay closely supervised till I was confident they understood what they were doing, and I would certainly not want to climb anything I might fall off on with them until I was sure they were competant. it takes a bit of time, but so does recovery from a broken leg if they get it wrong due to inexperience (and dropping somebody who is injured as a result wont do the belayers confidence any good either)
pebbles - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock: sounds perfect :-). good luck!
JDal - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to pebbles:
> (In reply to JDal)
> >You don't need any resources to take on adults who can belay and top rope.
>
> you do actually - you need to have some members willing and with enough experience to take time out to take beginners up easy routes on a top rope. if the beginners cant lead belay then they will also need to be taught to do that safely before they can belay anyone leading a route. This sometimes works well, specially where the club has members in the process of taking instructor qualifications, but you cant just say to a novice climber who has only previously top roped indoor routes "I'm off to do Great Western, would you like to belay me and then second me and clean the gear?"

I said that they had to be able to belay. Our club recommends novices to do course at a wall to learn to belay safely.

And a club with no members willing to take people up routes? Well we don't have a problem in that regard, I thought that's what clubs are about. Maybe the clubs you know are different. Do you know any?

We might get a novice to join in with an experienced pair, it's not much hassle to take someone else up a route, and you soon end up with another experienced club member. If the route's a straightforward thing I don't see what's wrong with them belaying me, so long as I'm confident that they can belay safely - even though they've not been outdoors before. A quick meetup at a wall sorts that out.

cheek to the rock - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to pebbles: Being belayed is defo a trust thing,i drill it in my mates head every time we go.Hand on the break line bones...must of said that 50 times today lol
GridNorth - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock: I started climbing in 1964. Myself and a couple of mates bought a book that showed you how to belay. We checked each other on two or three routes by setting up a tope rope and then we started leading. It's a bit more complicated these days as there is more gear/choice but don't let anyone persuade you that it's complex, it's not. It's mainly common sense and simple mechanics.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to pebbles:
> (In reply to r0x0r.wolfo) and youre happy being lead belayed by them? I would always want to have somebody just learning to lead belay closely supervised till I was confident they understood what they were doing, and I would certainly not want to climb anything I might fall off on with them until I was sure they were competant. it takes a bit of time, but so does recovery from a broken leg if they get it wrong due to inexperience (and dropping somebody who is injured as a result wont do the belayers confidence any good either)

Totally agree. Yeah I get confident in their belaying by going through it a few times and treating a few routes as solo's till I know they're alright. It's just what I have done without the luxury of another experienced climber. I'm agreeing with everything you say though clubs can't take that risk.
Jamie B - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock:

The key thing to getting started is not which gear or ethic you follow. It's about networking and finding people to climb with. If you can get out climbing regularly with a more experienced leader you're sorted.
cheek to the rock - on 11 Aug 2013
In reply to GridNorth: After soloing tower ridge i started to study rope techs, becasue i knew if i was going to take this where i wanted to go. I needed to do it in a safe manner.Im an adrenaline junky,Its in my blood.I find the whole idea of leading an onsight adventure where you dont know whats coming as a real buzz,but then again im not daft i realise you have to put the time in and learn the basics first.It just narked me a bit to think im spoiling routes.At the end of the day im only top roping my local quarry.For me its all about being in the mountains,so im not gonna let it bother me again...thanks for the advice all
Ramblin dave - on 12 Aug 2013
In reply to JDal:
> (In reply to pebbles)
> [...]

> We might get a novice to join in with an experienced pair, it's not much hassle to take someone else up a route, and you soon end up with another experienced club member. If the route's a straightforward thing I don't see what's wrong with them belaying me, so long as I'm confident that they can belay safely - even though they've not been outdoors before. A quick meetup at a wall sorts that out.

Agree, generally. We've introduced loads of newbies to trad climbing on club trips - we can take them out in a three and have someone supervise their belaying to start with, or (since we're quite a long way from any actual rock) do the same thing at a wall before going outside with them. And after that there are generally leaders around (myself included) who are clocking up experience and are happy to have someone come along and second them up loads of stuff at VS and below.

The flipside to this is that it might take a bit more patience on the novice's part than booking onto a Plas Y Brenin course or something would - they might have to wait for a suitable trip rather than eg going on the Gogarth trip because it's the next one on the calendar, they might have to do a couple of indoor sessions before going outside, and they might have to get to know people a bit before they can count on always finding someone to climb with, but that's kind of a case of beggars not being choosers...
Bruce Hooker - on 12 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock:

So you have slings and carabineers and a rope but can't afford a few nuts, or make yourself any? You can find someone to hold your top rope but he or she can't climb with you on easy routes to get you both started?

Are you sure you're not posting from under a bridge?
Trevers - on 12 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock:

Top roping isn't cheating, unless you're claiming to be onsighting E8s. It's basically the same as seconding a pitch
Mattdixclimb on 12 Aug 2013 - host86-185-58-20.range86-185.btcentralplus.com
In reply to cheek to the rock: if your enjoying what your doing keep on doing it top roping routes is a brilliant way to develope your climbing skills
Milesy - on 12 Aug 2013
In reply to Trevers:
> Top roping isn't cheating, unless you're claiming to be onsighting E8s. It's basically the same as seconding a pitch

Except it isn't. Removing gear on second is harder and more involving than top roping something.
Howard J - on 12 Aug 2013
In reply to pebbles:
> (In reply to JDal)
> >You don't need any resources to take on adults who can belay and top rope.
>
> you do actually - you need to have some members willing and with enough experience to take time out to take beginners up easy routes on a top rope.

That's self-evidently true, but I've never been in a club where this wasn't the case. Most members of clubs realise the importance of encouraging new members and are willing to put in a bit of time.

In the case of my current club, we make it clear that we don't offer instruction and recommend to novices that they go on a course. These days they've invariably done some climbing indoors so they can already belay. Of course, if your taking someone climbing you need to satisfy yourself that they really know how to do this, but the same applies to new members who claim to be experienced climbers (perhaps more so!).

If the first club you approach isn't willing to do this, then just keep looking.
Trangia - on 12 Aug 2013
In reply to Milesy:
> (In reply to Trevers)
> [...]
>
> Except it isn't. Removing gear on second is harder and more involving than top roping something.

And sometimes even harder (physically) than actually leading the pitch! :)
Blue Straggler - on 12 Aug 2013
In reply to Trangia:
> (In reply to Milesy)
> [...]
>
> And sometimes even harder (physically) than actually leading the pitch! :)

Especially if I was the leader, recklessly and maliciously lodging tri-cams firmly into place :-)

Rob - on 12 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock: You didn't say where you are but if you're anywhere near the south-east, climb on the southern sandstone crags where top roping is the norm.
Andy Stephenson - on 12 Aug 2013
In reply to Rob: As he's soloed Tower Ridge and watched Joe Brown climbing in North Wales in 1981 and climbed Grooved Arete...then I guess he gets about quite a bit and should be able to pick up a few hints along the way.

;-)
cheek to the rock - on 12 Aug 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: You now have me thinking of buying para core i have an assortment of bolt nuts and i can tie a double fishermans.I wanted to help my mate on an easy vd but i couldnt ancor it on the prow,Theres good cracks right above it that i think i could lodge my nuts in.cheers big ears
Bulls Crack - on 12 Aug 2013
In reply to cheek to the rock:

Just about everyone top-ropes before they start to lead - and may well do it to a greater or lesser extent once they can lead - so relax!
Bruce Hooker - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Bulls Crack:
> (In reply to cheek to the rock)
>
> Just about everyone top-ropes before they start to lead - and may well do it to a greater or lesser extent once they can lead - so relax!

Do you reckon? I thought people mostly seconded first then went on to lead? Top roping on anything but single pitch climb doesn't sound too handy to me, certainly never did it myself when learning.
pebbles - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:> "Top roping on anything but single pitch climb doesn't sound too handy"
yes, but then again would you take a complete novice up a multipitch without teaching them the basics on single pitch first? (I do realise a couple of dozen hairy arsed climbers in bristly tweeds will now descend to tell me their first ever climb was on Kipling Groove using their mums washing line)
ByEek - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Do you reckon? I thought people mostly seconded first then went on to lead? Top roping on anything but single pitch climb doesn't sound too handy to me, certainly never did it myself when learning.

Some do, some don't. Either way, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with top roping as long as you don't hog busy routes at busy times, or climb in mud caked shoes.
Bruce Hooker - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to ByEek:

> Either way, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with top roping...

Well there is though, it gives the beginner the impression that this is a necessary part of climbing when it clearly isn't. Why not just learn by seconding and then go on to leading through on easy climbs as soon as possible, ie. within a few day's climbing? Otherwise people get all freaked out about how leading is such a big deal... it isn't if you choose something easy enough.
pebbles - on 15 Aug 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: easier and safer to teach people to get the basics of belaying on a top rope before you move on to belaying someone on lead though...
DubyaJamesDubya - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to ByEek)
>
> [...]
>
> Well there is though, it gives the beginner the impression that this is a necessary part of climbing when it clearly isn't. Why not just learn by seconding and then go on to leading through on easy climbs as soon as possible, ie. within a few day's climbing? Otherwise people get all freaked out about how leading is such a big deal... it isn't if you choose something easy enough.

Another great post from 'top poster Bruce Hooker'.
How exactly, is getting a top rope on a route, significantly different from seconding?
highclimber - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya: Strictly speaking, by seconding you ARE top roping!
Jamie B - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> Another great post from 'top poster Bruce Hooker'.
> How exactly, is getting a top rope on a route, significantly different from seconding?

Because it involves you in the leading process, and helps you move towards doing so yourself.

Offwidth - on 16 Aug 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

Thats OK when you are not trying to focus on movement at the same time. I think either you start people off dealing with climbing movement on a tr or you teach them protection principles on a scramble. Dealing with movement on steep rock with the complications of removing gear is inefficient and potentially confusing for a first time-climber.
Bruce Hooker - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> How exactly, is getting a top rope on a route, significantly different from seconding?

Exactly? Just consider the difference between watching someone lead the pitch, then following them up, taking out the gear, settling in to the belay, watching them lead off and so on to the top of the cliff compared to top roping. Which do you think gives the beginner a better idea of what is involved in climbing and helps him to overcome any confidence problems, gives him faith in the rope, knowledge of protection and all the rest?

I've never quite I understood these top-roping squabbles as it's not something we did when I was learning but I find it even more curious that anybody can seriously contend that it's the best way to get started, it seems evident to me that it will generally hold you back rather than provide the best progress, just as starting out on climbing walls does. Possibly some people think they have no choice but it can hardly be pedagogically ideal.
Rosco P Coltrane - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

When you were learning Bruce I doubt you had cams, dyneema, gear loops etc...do you get eggy when you see people using those too? :)

Nothing wrong with top roping. Can help gain confidence and improve technique both indoors and out. When I am indoors I will always end a session by trying something really hard (for me -7a) on a toprope. And outside we often end day top roping something similarly difficult. No harm in it and those folk who get all spitty about it are just dinosaurs who think we should still be climbing in heavy boots and duffel coats!
Ramblin dave - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
Isn't it largely a matter of people not knowing anyone who already leads?

I agree that going out and seconding someone more experienced is a much better option, though. It also means that you'll probably have someone on hand to encourage you when you do get on the sharp end.

I'd also agree that it's a lot easier to find more experienced climbers who are happy to take you out than a lot of people seem to think.
Bruce Hooker - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to Rosco P Coltrane:

> When you were learning Bruce I doubt you had cams, dyneema, gear loops etc...do you get eggy when you see people using those too? :)

Eggy? What difference do these items make for the second? I'm afraid I don't see what point youn are making, nor where the eggs come in!

> Nothing wrong with top roping.

Well that's the subject of the thread, isn't it? I'd say that it is not a good way to learn, but then I'd say that about "indoor" climbing too. Both seem to pedagogically dubious, but it depends what your objectives are, to be a mountaineer or a gymnast. Each to his own.

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