/ NEW ARTICLE: Rock Climbing Basics 2: Top-rope Belaying

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
UKC Articles - on 28 Aug 2013
Top-rope Belay thumbnail, 4 kbThis is the second in a 12-part series from Climbing Magazine,Wild Country and Red Chili, demonstrating and explaining the basic skills needed to be safe on the crags. In this episode, Julie Ellison, Climbing Magazine's Gear Editor, talks us through belaying a climber who is using a top-rope for protection, the simplest way to belay and a good first step before lead belaying...

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=5718
cuppatea on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Nice to see Black Diamond getting a mention :D
langar27 - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: When you get to the top of what??? Could you please post beginner videos with people who can actually speak a dialect of ENGLISH recognized globally. Does anyone else outside of the USA actually pronounce the word "route" that way? NO!

Beginners are nervous and overloaded with information. Do not add to their headache by confusing them with words nobody uses. Furthermore, creating a beginner instructional video for any activity that is filled with slang/abbreviated words is completely moronic!!! What did that woman say she did for a living?? Hope it's not creating these kind of videos regularly..Wait, 12 part series? Oh brother...Scary!

Additionally, it would have been nice if you covered a few other standard belay devices as not everyone uses that exact one. Bottom line, that is probably the worst beginner video ever posted on UKC.
Thoms6974 - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Isn't that bottom-rope belaying?
NottsRich on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to Thoms6974: Yeh, I think you're right.

These videos seem to be pretty poor quality, shameless excuses for advertising, targeted at beginners. Or am I just too cynical!
highclimber - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to NottsRich:
> (In reply to Thoms6974) Yeh, I think you're right.
>
> These videos seem to be pretty poor quality, shameless excuses for advertising, targeted at beginners. Or am I just too cynical!

Not at all. I don't think that a lot of the people who use this forum need such instructional videos. I suspect the majority of people who use this forum already know the basics. happy to be proved wrong though
Wiley Coyote - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:
It's always hard to know exactly where to pitch instructional material for beginners. Do you start with 'This is a rope. This is a harness' or do you assume a bit of basic knowledge? And, if so, how much? As climbers we forget that not everyone knows the wrinkles we use without thinking. But they don't. EG when I was teaching Mrs C to belay her ATC went off down the scree because I was soloing up a few feet to put in the first piece at the same time as she was fitting the ATC. My normal climbing partner would know to leave a few yards of slack for this but she was trying to fit the device within a couple of feet of my knot so when I pulled up the rope it yanked the ATC from her hand. Cue a minor domestic as we both ask 'What did you do that for?' It might have helped the video makers if they had run it past some absolute beginners and asked 'Does any of this make sense to you or do you want it more/less basic?'
Also a pair of belay gloves might not have gone amiss
winhill - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to langar27:

> (Furthermore, creating a beginner instructional video for any activity that is filled with slang/abbreviated words is completely moronic!!!

I don't want to watch it again but didn't notice any the first time around.

Why don't you post WTF it is you're referring too?

The rest of your rant seems so insane I can't think it's worth the time to see if any of it means much.

Oceanrower - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to winhill: I notice ATC a few times. I hadn't got a clue what the acronym stood for.

Having googled it, I assume the marketing department were off that day.
Calder - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to winhill:
> (In reply to langar27)
>
> [...]
>
> I don't want to watch it again but didn't notice any the first time around.
>
> Why don't you post WTF it is you're referring too?
>
> The rest of your rant seems so insane I can't think it's worth the time to see if any of it means much.

I saw the comment first. I noticed particularly the use of ATC replaced the more usual (and general) use of 'belay device' a couple of times, as well as possibly the use of 'biner and bight. Would a beginner know what a bight is - I'm not convinced.
RCC - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to Thoms6974:

> Isn't that bottom-rope belaying?

The word 'top' in 'top roping' refers a situation where an anchor and rope is placed at the top of the route prior to anyone climbing. This has been an accepted definition for decades and is what most people would understand by the term.

As I understand it 'bottom roping' is an MTA/ SPA invention, but it isn't widely used elsewhere. Logically, 'bottom roping' should be synonymous with leading.

agolay - on 28 Aug 2013
I agree the video wasn't brilliant, they are Americans climbing in America which makes me think the video is aimed mostly at Americans!
We're never going to like their pronunciation or there odd phrases like "belay biner"
We're unlikely to like their alternative techniques and most of us will use the Englishman's tried a tested 'V to the knee 1,2,3' when instructing novice belayers.
It does look like an advert to me. My two pence.
jon on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to agolay:
> most of us will use the Englishman's tried a tested 'V to the knee 1,2,3' when instructing novice belayers.

What?!
AlH - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to jon:
> (In reply to agolay)
> [...]
>
> What?!

Trans.:
'Make a V': Grasping the dead rope firmly make a 'v' shape in the rope by pulling rope through the device as you bring the hand up so it is in front of the upper body.
'To the knee': Lock off the rope by lowering the same hand down towards the knee still grasping the rope firmly.
'1': Hand moves from live rope to dead rope
'2'. Original hand on dead rope now moves back up to higher position on that rope
'3'. Hand moved in '1' goes back up to live rope and you are ready to begin the sequence again

Its just a set of verbal cues to help someone new to top/bottom (choose your term to preference) rope belaying get to grips with it.
Thoms6974 - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to RCC:
> (In reply to Thoms6974)
>
> [...]Logically, 'bottom roping' should be synonymous with leading.

What about if you're leading a traverse? :p
nz Cragrat on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to Thoms6974:
> (In reply to UKC Articles)
>
> Isn't that bottom-rope belaying?

Only in the UK ... when someone belays at the top of a climb the rest of the world (sic) would call that seconding or following. Most places regard top roping as a set up you call bottom roping. it would be better perhaps if you aligned yourself with the rest of the world perhaps?
tlm - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to agolay:
> 'V to the knee 1,2,3'

Well! You learn something new every day!
langar27 - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to winhill: And there it is! Always some boob who loves to insult people in a forum. Cheers for being that guy!
elliptic on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to nz Cragrat:

> Only in the UK ... when someone belays at the top of a climb the rest of the world (sic) would call that seconding or following. Most places regard top roping as a set up you call bottom roping. it would be better perhaps if you aligned yourself with the rest of the world perhaps?

Most people here in the UK use "top roping" the same way as you. That's what I've always called it anyway for the thirty years I've been climbing, and everyone else I've ever climbed with has done too.

For me "seconding" or "following" would imply the rope is in place because someone has actually just led the route (ie there is gear to be taken out) whereas "top roping" means that the rope has been set up specifically for the purpose. In that case I wouldn't make much distinction between belayer positioned at the top or bottom of the route, they're both top roping.

But "bottom roping" is an ugly term that I've only ever seen used in tedious online forum discussions...
jon on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to AlH:
> (In reply to jon)

> 'Make a V': Grasping the dead rope firmly make a 'v' shape in the rope by pulling rope through the device as you bring the hand up so it is in front of the upper body.
> 'To the knee': Lock off the rope by lowering the same hand down towards the knee still grasping the rope firmly.
> '1': Hand moves from live rope to dead rope
> '2'. Original hand on dead rope now moves back up to higher position on that rope
> '3'. Hand moved in '1' goes back up to live rope and you are ready to begin the sequence again

Wow, thanks Alan. It should come in really handy the next time I forget how to belay! But seriously, V to the knee, 123... that's really naff. PLEASE tell me it's just for kids. I think if I had an adult client who was so challenged that he needed that... well I'd just despair.
SteveD - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to jon:

> Wow, thanks Alan. It should come in really handy the next time I forget how to belay! But seriously, V to the knee, 123... that's really naff. PLEASE tell me it's just for kids. I think if I had an adult client who was so challenged that he needed that... well I'd just despair.

I first came across this during a wall specific assessment a couple of weeks ago, the fact that some of the candidates actually needed the mnemonic scared the willies out of me. I don't think any of them passed mind.
Gordon Stainforth - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to nz Cragrat:
> (In reply to Thoms6974)
> [...]
>
> Only in the UK ... when someone belays at the top of a climb the rest of the world (sic) would call that seconding or following. Most places regard top roping as a set up you call bottom roping. it would be better perhaps if you aligned yourself with the rest of the world perhaps?

No, not in the UK. The way we always used the term (with belayer at the bottom) was exactly as you describe. We never called it bottom-roping. I'm thinking particularly of UK SE sandstone in the 60s and 70s.

highclimber - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to jon:
> (In reply to AlH)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Wow, thanks Alan. It should come in really handy the next time I forget how to belay! But seriously, V to the knee, 123... that's really naff. PLEASE tell me it's just for kids. I think if I had an adult client who was so challenged that he needed that... well I'd just despair.

I use that method to teach everyone. It's perfectly suited to most people who have never climbed, including adults. It's not so much about them needing it as the necessity to keep the session from turning into a learn to belay session. Most people forget the mnemonic as soon as they grasp the movements
martinph78 on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to elliptic: Agree.

But this is from Libby Peters book, and probably why it has started to be used by people wanting to be clever:

Top-roping and bottom-roping are set up from the top of the climb without someone first having led the route.

During top-roping the belayer is attached to anchors at the top of the crag.

During bottom-roping the belayer is positioned at the base of the crag.



So both refer to the climber climbing with the rope from above, with the route not been previously led. The "top-rop" "bottom-rope" refers more accurately to the position of the belayer.

I'll still call it top-roping no matter where I'm stood!
AlH - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to jon: You asked, I explained :-) I see it used in walls mostly with large groups of children but occasionally with adults often where the instructor has quite large ratios to talk to and manage.
I'd rather give them a belay device and see if they can figure out how it works (everyone on the ground and time permitting).

Top rope vs bottom rope is useful when trying to describe a specific setup to someone else in particular if people are asking someone else to set something up for them. It's just a short hand / alternative to 'top rope with the belayer at the top' or 'top rope with the belayer at the bottom'. As the OP said not a 'pretty' term but sometimes a useful one. I too find seconding/ following equally clumsy when someone has walked around, setup and lowered a rope down. The climber is neither 'seconding' nor following a leader. But is it really a big deal? Any more than 'stemming' and 'bridging' or rappelling and abseiling?
Howard J - on 31 Aug 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:
They're both top-roping, since the rope is running to the climber from the top of the crag. However surely the situation where the belayer stands at the bottom is by far the more usual? This is certainly what I immediately think of when top-roping is mentioned.

"Bottom roping" appears to me to be instructor-speak. However if there is a need to distinguish, why change a long-established and well-understood term to mean the opposite of what it has always meant, rather than invent a new term for the less usual situation?
Martin Hore - on 01 Sep 2013
In reply to Martin1978:
> But this is from Libby Peters book, and probably why it has started to be used by people wanting to be clever:

Not sure if this was meant to be disparaging or not, but actually I think it is quite "clever" to standardise on the techniques and terminology used in Libby's book when introducing beginners, even in a club situation. Our club regularly gets beginners who have done a few sessions with qualified instructors at local walls or elsewhere. Given that Libby's book is the textbook for MIA, SPA and CWA it's likely that these are the techniques they will have been taught and it's unnecessarily confusing to introduce alternatives at this early stage. The belaying technique used in Libby's book is not exactly what I do myself, but it's simple and safe, and, yes, I find that "V, to the knee, 1, 2,. 3" does make it easier for beginners to get it right.

As for the video, well it uses a different technique, not brilliantly demonstrated I feel, but it's for an American audience, so we probably shouldn't criticise the use of "biner" etc. (I've had several Americans laugh out loud when I've called it a "krab".) Somebody complained that they shouldn't use language not recognised as English by the majority of the world's English speakers, but I'm afraid if you want to achieve that you'll need to make the video in India!
Enty - on 01 Sep 2013
In reply to elliptic:
> (In reply to nz Cragrat)
>
>
>
> But "bottom roping" is an ugly term that I've only ever seen used in tedious online forum discussions...

Me too. 30 years cragging and I've never ever heard the term used.

E
jon on 01 Sep 2013
In reply to Martin Hore:

> As for the video, well it uses a different technique, not brilliantly demonstrated I feel, but it's for an American audience, so we probably shouldn't criticise the use of "biner" etc.

Exactly. Mind you the Yanks do have their own strange peculiarities (let's not discuss off belay/on belay here...) I was abseiling (to be more precise, rapping) down from a route on Yosemite's Middle Cathedral one day. There was a pair on an adjacent route doing likewise. When the first guy got to the ground and detached himself from the rope he bellowed up to his mate "OFF RAPPEL". The second then rapped down to the ground so he was standing next to his friend, detached the rope - and also bellowed "OFF RAPPEL"! I feel that this sort of automaton approach to such things must be the result of some very wanky instructing!
Thoms6974 - on 03 Sep 2013
In reply to Martin1978:

It's nice to see a reference! To be honest I've never used or really heard the term either until I was condescendinly 'corrected' by a CWA who was in the middle of demonstrating a convoluted method of rescue half way up a short indoor wall.

It's reassuring to know that I'm actually with the standard world alignment...
GridNorth - on 03 Sep 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: "Bottom roping". If it's an Americanism shouldn't it be called "fanny roping" :-)

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