/ Outdoor climbing etiquette
I was wondering what's the correct etiquette when climbing outdoors?
The other day I was up at Almscliffe Crag in Leeds, and I know it can be a crowded climbing area, you do have to make allowances. Some of our gear was at the bottom of the route, and I'd placed our rope at the top of the route, so it was overhanging and visible from below - i thought that'd be a good indication we were going to be top roping.
While we were putting in some anchors, I'd come to the edge to drop the rope and there's a guy half way up our route leading!
I was a bit hacked off that he'd just started climbing our route, I let it go as he was a more experienced climber than I and I thought he won't be long. I thought I can't really say "get off the route!" when he's half way up?
To make it really annoying he asked to borrow my belay device as 2 more people followed!!?
Is first to start climbing wins? or should he have asked first?
What would (polite) people do in that situation ?
If you aren't a Troll, You could say "Get off my Route" ... the customary climbing reply endorsed by Scottish folks everywhere is "Git tae F**k". As I say if you don't abide under a bridge and are real I would suggest you rapidly develop a more relaxed attitude to climbing, nobody owns anything or bags things.
If someone can climb harder than you then they are automatically in the right, no matter what they do.
First law of UKC.
Whilst it might seem (and be) annoying at times, the general etiquete is that leading routes takes precedence over top roping.
Put bluntly, top roping should be for practice and helping novices and is considered secondary to people wanting to lead routes. Some traditional climbers can be quite assertive about exercsing what they consider to be their "right".
To be fair, if you wanted to lead a climb and you saw someone setting up a TR which might mean the TR'ers could hog the route for ages (as is often the case), you might also jump on it quickly before they'd actually set up their rope. And of course you hadn't actually set up your rope at that point had you?
By it's very nature, leading a route (at least in a pair) tends to be quicker than even a small group setting up and TR'ing a route.
Nice welcome to the forum, well done. Semi-appropriate username.
> Some of our gear was at the bottom of the route, and I'd placed our rope at the top of the route, so it was overhanging and visible from below - i thought that'd be a good indication we were going to be top roping.
> While we were putting in some anchors, I'd come to the edge to drop the rope and there's a guy half way up our route leading!
I'm a bit confused by these statements which seem to contradict each other
First you say you had placed your rope at the top of the route...
Then you say you had come to the edge to drop the rope.....
Which was it? If your rope was already running down the route then I'd say he was out of order, and really should have cleared it with you first.
However if you hadn't dropped it yet, maybe he assumed the route was clear.
Where was the rest of your party? Couldn't they had said something to him? If your setting up the anchor was clearly visible from ground level, then why didn't you see them on the ground sorting out their lead rope and getting ready to lead, and commented to them?
Sounds to me like a genuine misunderstanding.
You weren't actually climbing the route at the time and, had I been in the other guy's shoes and wanted to lead the route, I would probably have done exactly the same thing. I would have been prompted to get on it quickly while you were rigging your top rope; the likelihood being that you were going to tie the route up for some time afterwards. I also consider myself a polite person.
P.S. Asking to borrow your belay device could have been interpreted as a bit cheeky. but it would have got him and his seconds off the route more quickly, so I wouldn't have been particularly bothered.
You'll find some odd things etiquette-wise when transitioning to climbing outside.
For example, if you or your partners leave gear in a route (either forgetting it or effectively abandoning it because you can't remove it), other climbers will probably remove it for you and consider it to be their own as a result - "crag swag". There is sometimes a fine line between what is acceptable and not, something which is oft debated on UKC.
I did think it'd get him off the route quicker.
No, I don't agree. Top-roping and lead-climbing are just two different ways of having a day out.
If someone is on the rock first, and you think they well take ages but that you will be quick, you can politely ask if they mind you nipping in first, just like in the supermarket, but just to sneak into a space that someone else is clearly about to use is simply rude.
the rope hadnt been dropped, it was just piled up at the top of the route by the edge.
There were only 2 of us both putting in anchors, they're a bit back from the edge - so you can't been seen, nor see anyone below.
I'd say the first person to start climbing has priority, unless you are both at the foot of the climb, intending to lead, then its the first person to get there and start gearing up.
Existence of gear at the foot of the climb means nothing, as is existence of gear, plus owners eating their lunch.
But he wasn't "on the rock". Most top ropers I encounter tend to hog the routes in a selfish manner. Having said all that if it was obvious that someone was intending to climb a route, in whatever fashion, I would not push in.
There is a little bit of me that disapproves of top roping and thinks that if there is no one in the party capable of leading the route then that party does not deserve to climb it. It seems to be a bit of a modern phenomena. I'm not saying that no one top roped in the good old days but I can't recall see it very often.
> No, I don't agree. Top-roping and lead-climbing are just two different ways of having a day out.
I don't think this applies in this case. The OP clearly shows that nobody was 'on the rock'. If he had been tied in with belayer in place and ready to climb (or imminently about to be so) then your point would be valid.
Well, in that case, they may have interpreted it as you having just finished leading it and were safe to follow on up. Unless you actually had a TR visibly in place, there wasn't a lot to debate (and I'm not really playing devil's advocate there). No one owns the rock and you don't reserve a line simply by having some gear kicking around nearby. What you have descibed since your 1st post doesn't even seem slightly rude to me.
I do think the short grit crags lead to this sort of thing though, plus some genuinely bad behaviour. Get out in the mountains where you will find much less pressure on routes and you'll be merrily chatting and swapping stories with oither climbers at stances. Not that some bad behaviour and misunderstandings don't still occur.
As I said before, sounds like a genuine misunderstanding.
If there was no rope on the route I'd have probably done the same. However if I noticed someone was setting up a top rope I would have asked them first if they minded. If nothing else, the last thing a leader needs is a coil of top rope falling onto them! :)
I do feel like that is how it should be, maybe in the future, i'll drop a rope straight away. I find the majority of people on the crags very pleasant and chilled folk, but there are the arrogant few who think they're superior and can do what they like.
[and keep someone at the bottom]
"no one in the party capable of leading the route then that party does not deserve to climb it. "
what a stupid comment. i assume you're one of the arrogant few i referred to.
If I saw 2 guys at the top of a route, with a rope and fiddling with anchors, I'd assume they had just climbed the route. Even if he couldn't see you, just the rope, it's still a perfectly reasonable assumption.
I don't like this "leading has priority over top-roping" stuff but nonetheless the norm in climbing is to start at the bottom and work up. If you aren't doing this then the onus is on you to make your intentions clear - i.e mate on lockout or rope dangling down the crag.
One thing to bear in mind on gritstone crags is that you will often get people soloing - and on busy days that often means nipping up routes which appear to be free. I've learnt from experience to be ultra cautious because of the number of times a rope has suddenly come down from above
To be clear, my 1st post was not so much my own view as that expressed by many. Having said that, I do have some sympathy with some aspects of it. I suggest you read the BMC's guidance on climbing outdoors. The following is cut and paste directly from it. Hopefully that puts my comments in perspective and will give you the view of the closest thing we, as climbers, have to a national voice.
"At climbing walls you either top-rope routes
that have ropes already in place, or you bring
your own rope and lead routes. With trad
climbing normal practice is to lead, not toprope.
Most climbers have probably top-roped
a route at some point, but there are others
who take exception to this practice; they
believe top-roping is against the sports ethos
as it reduces the challenge. The obvious
attraction of top-roping is that much of the risk
is eliminated, but being able to manage risk is
not only central to the sport, but one of its most
exciting and satisfying aspects.
If you do top-rope a route be quick and
discreet, as a common annoyance felt by other
climbers is top-roping parties hogging routes
so do not leave your rope hanging for a long
time. Another issue to be aware of is that some
rock is extremely soft, the sandstone outcrops
in Sussex have been permanently damaged
due to poor top-rope practices, for example.
Ensure that the karabiner at the top of the cliff
is extended over the edge to prevent the rope
sawing through any rock or vegetation, and
consider using a rope protector, carpet-square
or empty rucksack as padding.
When you have finished a climb consider
untying and walking down to the cliff bottom.
This eliminates the real risk of being dropped
as you are lowered, and reduces erosion to
ropes, rock and vegetation."
Jon, Given the situation you've just described there isn't really any way the following climber could know that you hadn't just finished the route before they set off. I'd suggest a simple misunderstanding rather than overt 'route bagging' was the issue.
There is no need to be discourteous I was merely expressing an opinion. The fact that I said a little bit of me disapproves indicates that it's not a serious issue in my mind. The text from the BMC, posted above, nicely expresses my thoughts however.
What I meant was 'obviously about to use that bit of rock'. If it wasn't obvious then, clearly, confusion could arise.
<possible thread hijack>
I read John Arran argue on some other thread that sport climbing in its purest form should be all about the climbing, and as such should be as little as possible about the gear, or fear of real danger (not saying there's no fear of falling, even when it is safe) so it really shouldn't matter if the clips are already in etc. Apologies to John if I have misconstrued this.
Likewise, (leaving behind anything that John said) isn't top-roping the ideal way to do sport climbing in trad places? When you do it, it's all about the climbing, and actually its a better way to do "sport" in any kind of place where you might hit something if you fall even a short distance. It wouldn't work so well in hard, sporty, overhanging venues. There are no bolts, so noone's beloved trad route experience on the same piece of rock is forever altered.
People who like sport can do sport, people who like trad can do trad. All in the same place.
What's wrong with that? :)
I wasn't being discourteous - the way it read was that you were implying if you can't lead, get off the crag.
I enjoy climbing and feeling safe. I don't feel confident enough yet to lead, nor have all the gear for it - doesn't mean I have less right to be there.
If you call it 'head-pointing' do you view it differently ;-)
since the anchors were, as the OP clearly says, not yet in place I dont think it was unreasonable for somebody to jump on the route while the people at the top were fiddling around, specially as its not an unreasonable assumption that if they were toproping an easy route they were not very experienced and might take some time to get the anchors sorted.
If toproping a harder route in order to work the moves, I would always make it clear to anyone looking as if they might be intending to lead it that I would be happy to stay out of their way while they did so.
lol, only if it's an E5 or up...
I think the established etiquette is to drop your rope on the leader and then also abseil on top of him. Another possibility is to ask someone to hold his rope so that he can't move and then climb using his shoulders as footholds. Don't use them for hands because even immobilized leader can bite.
Top-roping is, by it's very nature, slightly more trivial and less involved than leading a route. People go to a crag often with the sole intention of leading a particular route and if that was me and I was unable to get on that route because some people were top-roping it then I probably would feel a bit pissed-off.
Call me a bit old-fashioned but I agree with some of the sentiments above that leading a route should take some priority. That is not to say that leaders should just be able to barge top-ropers off a route.
Whilst in a general sense you can of course do what you want, you did ask what the general etiquette was outdoors. I have posted the BMC's own comments on top roping outside. Reading that, do you think leading or top roping is the norm?
Hopfully you will agree that the BMC and most climbers will see leading as the norm. Therefore, outdoors etiquette is to favour those leading, whilst accepting that everyone has a right to climb in their chosen style. Most climbers are happy to be polite and accommodate both leading and TR'ing. Some feel a bit more strongly about it.
In the circusmtances you described, I still think the party who led the route probably didn't even realise you were about to throw down a TR.
ha. I'll remember that for next time. :D
In my decades of climbing I think the amount of top roping is about the same. Group behaviour seems to have improved a bit as well (student groups are certainly a lot better behaved on average). Having said that, from my experience Almscliffe is sadly a place where poor practice is more common. If you read old guides and articles its clear as anything that top roping is as old as climbing.
In this case its probable that either the lead party didnt know (and the thread is hot air) or they did know and it is a bit rude but more forgivable given the crag, and in either case any subsequent delay is hardly very long.
True true. I can see that now.
It's not about rights, you asked about etiquette. I gave you my opinion and you called me arrogant and stupid but I'm putting your lack of manners down to a forum being a poor means of communications so lets not fall out.
If you don't have the gear and the ability I'm afraid that in my book you do have less right to be there than someone who does but before you get all worked up that is just my opinion, there are no rules.
I reckon he either made an innocent mistake, or should have asked.
I disagree with any notion that leading inherently takes precedence over top roping.
First come first serve, and be courteous.
I do agree things can be misread on forums.
probably like i'm mis-reading your statements again...
which i read as:
"i'm better than you and i've more gear than you, get out of my way".
Indeed - though often for pre practising routes at the cutting edge at the time.
Then stop paraphrasing. That's not what I meant but you wouldn't expect to be tolerated pootling round a formula one race track in a beat up van would you?
I also said that I would not attempt to do a route if I knew that someone was about to go on it.
Generally, those wanting to lead a route take preference over anyone top-roping. Top-roping can take over a route for a long period of time, whereas leading a single pitch then bringing up a second shouldn't take too long at all. When I'm with groups and we're top-roping I'm always more than happy to pull my ropes aside if someone wants to lead the climb. That said, it is always polite to ask first though. In this instance, it does read as though you looked like you had topped out and were sorting gear out, so I suspect the chap honestly thought you'd finished the climb.
You sound like the arrogant one. You asked about *etiquette* not *rights* and appear not to like what the accepted etiquette is.
Not true. If it's at the party's limit, it will take forever.
Which suits E5 plus climbers very well, I'm sure - to have a different name for the same process, based on an arbitrary grade boundary, and attach a different set of ethics to it. Very convenient!
Personally, I think the terms head point (and redpoint, for that matter) define a process and should be applicable to routes of any grade.
Doesn't sound like this was the case here.
You're right, I did ask about etiquette, I'm not sure what the accepted etiquette is, it seems divided.
What i don't like is opinions that "better climbers" have more rights to a route.
I don't think that it's an issue of 'better' climbers, I think you are being a bit sensitive on this point. It's more a matter of 'better style'. I climb in the low extremes; if I was setting up a top rope on a VS (maybe because I was being a wuss on that day (does happen) or because I had a newbie in tow) and an HVS leader wanted to jump on the route, then provided no-one in my party was actually on the route at the time, then I would happily defer.
Lots of people have quoted the BMC advice on this matter and I could also quote some of the guidance on crag etiquette which is in the SPA handbook, noting that neither sources are anything other than guidance. In short the MLTB say that nobody (neither groups nor individual climbers) has priority or rights on a crag or route. It also points out the changing nature of ethics as techniques change or grow in popularity. There is nothing carved in tablets of stone in other words.
With that in mind, I have created my own list of climbing etiquette rules:
1. When climbing, be considerate of the environment and other people who may be near you.
If someone is having a picnic on the belay stance of a 3* route at Stanage, cest la vie :-)
Yep, me too Sally. For me it's not about 'better climbers', 'more gear', or any of that - there are lots of better climbers than me out there, and lots who have more gear too. It is about letting someone do a climb in better style than I can on the day. And it's about being courteous. If I were about to rig a top rope, and saw other climbers at the bottom, I'd ask them if they wanted to go ahead and lead it before I rigged the ropes.
soloing >> leading >>>>> top-roping.
naturally you should not get on a route where someone is climbing (at that very moment), but if you want to lead(or solo) a certain single-pitch line and there is a toprope hanging on something, I would and will ask for them to either pull it down or move it aside.
I don't know why there's a debate. You said:
"The other day I was up at Almscliffe Crag in Leeds, and I know it can be a crowded climbing area, you do have to make allowances."
Surely then, you must've known top-roping would be frowned up on a busy crag like Almscliff with loads of "3 star classics". Out of interest what route did you want to set the top-rope up on?
So what if someone is head/red (whatever.!) pointing a route and is on it for hours on end - is that better than those evil topropers?
I agree with the BMC advice and if only people just talked to each other at the crag.......
In principle it's neither better nor worse but it is unlikely to be on a popular established route so won't create the same problems.
Not sure about this. As a regular solo-er at the busy Stanage Popular, I see myself as being lower down the ranks than those leading routes, especially those leading routes onsight at their limit. I'm just there for a potter, I've done the route scores of times before and I can come back and do it later, 'cause it's only going to take me a couple of minutes.
I think that those leading a route at their limit are the "top of the pile" at the crag, with top-ropers certainly down at the bottom for the reasons in the BMC advice.
> "The other day I was up at Almscliffe Crag in Leeds, and I know it can be a crowded climbing area, you do have to make allowances."
> Surely then, you must've known top-roping would be frowned up on a busy crag like Almscliff with loads of "3 star classics". Out of interest what route did you want to set the top-rope up on?
why would i think top roping would be frowned up on at Almscliffe - it's full of top ropers and beginner groups. the route was a 4b.
I think maybe it's gone a bit off topic, partly my fault, and I probably didn't ask the correct question in the first place - which should have been...
*IF* someone knew we were there, is it usual practice for them to go ahead and climb without asking?
i do "make allowances" there - as I do bother to ask people if they're using a route, then I wait or go do another route.
If they didn't know you were there then it was an honest mistake. However, be aware that despite the majority of climbers being decent folks happy to help and encourage those new to the sport, there are a few a-holes who almost go out of their way to make a political stand, be it anti-top rope, anti-groups or whatever.
My advice is that if you are going to do top roping, don't go to one of the busiest crags in an area on a warm sunny day. There is plenty to go at. Choose wisely.
Getting back to the original question about top roping etiquette. Top roping should only be done on routes were other climbers aren't wanting to climb, and if you've set up your top rope and other climbers come along, it is good etiquette to ask them if they are intending to lead the climb you're on, and if so, to move your ropes aside. Hope that clears this up.
> My advice is that if you are going to do top roping, don't go to one of the busiest crags in an area on a warm sunny day. There is plenty to go at. Choose wisely.
Nope, I disagree. If you are going to climb a route, by whatever means, simply be considerate of those around you.
> Not sure about this. As a regular solo-er at the busy Stanage Popular, I see myself as being lower down the ranks than those leading routes, especially those leading routes onsight at their limit. I'm just there for a potter, I've done the route scores of times before and I can come back and do it later, 'cause it's only going to take me a couple of minutes.
Well, as I said, the "order" follows the order of "Style"... and there solo is higher up than lead. But as you stated, soloing generally means that you have much more in reserve and if someone is leading the route, you can just climb something else nearby (like in Stanage).
I think i'll vote this answer as the best. :)
Agreed. And so if you are likely to be doing lots of top roping, being considerate at a busy venue is likely to mean you don't get a huge amount of climbing done because the easy routes tend to be very busy.
So if you want to avoid disappointment, going to a less crowded venue makes sense because you won't feel the pressure of having to complete a route quickly so that someone else can have their turn. You also avoid the stares and tuts of disatisfaction from the a-holes that are always buzzing around on such busy days.
So in these scenarios do you always ask the prospective leader how many grades they have in hand?
How does this tie in with Jon Stewart's assertion that leaders "onsighting at their limit" are top dogs?
How is a leader leading something easy and guaranteed then bringing up their friend on second, any better than just putting a top rope on for their friend?
The last of these three questions is the "serious" one.
Let's say I go to Froggatt with a newbie and want them to climb Green Gut. It is a busy day and there a few groups milling around and looking at the route.
If I just chuck a top rope on it and my friend climbs it easily, I am a villain.
If I lead it for the umpteenth time, adding polish and wear to gear placements, and my newbie second takes ages extracting nuts, scuffling around, scraping and hitting with a nut key they are using for the first time, I am a hero.
It might be hard to understand if you don't lead, but it can be very disappointing to turn up to lead a route you've been building up to, and are psyched to get on, only to see somebody setting up a top-rope. You can't always just switch the psych back on later, so you might be tempted to jump in quickly.
I think a solo of route you've done 100 times before is a lesser style than an onsight lead.
You seem to like the answers which justify your annoyance rather than the other answers which have tried to explain the generally accepted etiquette.
Couldn't agree more.
There seems in fact to be a disparity of views. If there is any convergence, it is that courtesy to others and to the environment takes precedence over everything, as in the rest of life.
All the rest, it seems to me, gets into a logical tangle very quickly.
What was the route?
Not a hero, no, but you're at least demonstrating the leading process which is still the norm and your second is learning something other than simply physical moves. I was taught by someone in the same fashion and ended up leading on my second weekend out I think it was. If we'd been top roping that probably wouldn't have happened.
I don't think that just applies to leading. I've been down the Burbage North with the plan to cross off the Ash Tree wall climbs, only to get there and it's crowded with 2 or 3 groups. I'ts still disappointing.
That's a good comparison and not something that I have any real issues with but that is not the typical top roping scenario. What I see more often are:
Countless ascents of the same line.
Hogging a route for hours on end.
People attempting moderately difficult, popular routes that are too hard for them.
People leaving ropes in situ while they go and top rope another climb.
It is these behaviors that I object to not top roping as such. In fact what you describe could be considered as considerate.
I think that we all want it to be West Chimney.
Bet it was Parsons.
yes, to put the other side of the story, it can be equally frustrating to arrive at the bottom of a route which appears to be empty (gear apparently left at the bottom whilst the owner is elsewhere doesnt really count), only to have a head bob over the top just as you start climbing announcing that they are in the middle of setting up anchors for a toprope
Well, if that's how you like to view yourself.....
We're having a discussion about climbing ethics here. It's not a rational system ranking each climber in terms of the damage they do to the rock, it's an odd, irrational, cultural thing that has grown out of traditions and egos. It is what it is, and it makes trad climbing in the UK a rich and colourful world.
my moneys on fluted columns or pinnacle flake. should we open a book?
My money`s on Birds Nest Crack
My money is on fluted columns or stew pot.
Winner get`s cake.
I was at Stanage a few years ago and was about 6 feet up on a mid grade lead when a soloist climbed up and past me. To say I was taken aback would understate it. However, whilst one or other of us could have slipped and taken the other off, I don't suppose it was tooo dangerous.
On the other hand, I had a soloist climb under my second (we were on Sundowner, the soloist on Sunset Slab) and I was terrified my second, who was wobbling, would fall and take the soloist off quite high on the slab.
Don't know what that demonstrates except to reinforce that, on the odd occasion I do solo routes, I prefer to do it in quiet locations. Otherwise, I agree that soloing can clearly be better a style than leading. It's just a more complicated thing to weigh up I guess.
I thought it was etiquette?
Now you're talking. A cake it is!
Honestly, i was hoping for a lot more answers that say you should be considerate and supportive to others around you. regardless of skill and ability. And in a lot cases at the crag I find that to be true, on occasion it's not true, and its those situations i'm trying to find out how best to handle.
you better all keep guessing then!! :)
given jon_barnes minimal profile, lack of logbook and profile registration on 13th august 2014 I suggest the cake should probably be a slice of Swiss Troll
> Agreed. And so if you are likely to be doing lots of top roping, being considerate at a busy venue is likely to mean you don't get a huge amount of climbing done because the easy routes tend to be very busy.
> So if you want to avoid disappointment, going to a less crowded venue makes sense because you won't feel the pressure of having to complete a route quickly so that someone else can have their turn. You also avoid the stares and tuts of disatisfaction from the a-holes that are always buzzing around on such busy days.
Nope again, as I don't think you are actually agreeing with me. You are feeding the myth that top ropers should avoid popular crags in good weather. I say, anyone can climb popular routes in good weather by whatever means, whenever they like, provided they are considerate to others and the environment. Top roping doesn't mean huge groups and route domination nor does it always mean slow climbing. Everyone needs to be patient and polite. I have sat at the bottom of many a 3* classic watching a novice leader taking their time, perhaps over-protecting the route and taking an age to set up their belay once on the top. Cest la vie, open my flask, have a mars bar and wait or go and climb something else. Nobody has greater right over a route than anyone else.
Tr Prepractice has been around for as long as Tr introducing beginners...all the way back on grit to the 19th century.
I joined the forum today so i could i ask, what i thought, was a reasonable question. I wasn't aware i had to fill in a log book and wait some time to ask.
It was Traditional Climb out of interest.
If you want to feel a supportive environment then I strongly recommend getting out on to the bigger crags away from the grit where, generally, climbers do look out for each other in a number of ways and just seem more sociable.
Thats 4c :-)
Nonsense. Grit is way more sociable its the most busy most concentrated and its single pitch. You get knobs but fewer than on here.
The best way to handle it is to wait for the person to finish leading whilst you finish rigging and checking your rope, then when they have finished and you are ready to climb, it will be your turn.
Its got f*ck all to do with being supportive of less experienced people.
Nice. Are you implying that I'm a knob? If not, it very much reads that way.
Seriously Jon, I know it can be hard to get a sensible answer on here sometimes, as we all naturally have different opinions. What I wrote above (and copied below) is the generally accepted etiquette for top roping. It's all about communication really. Anybody else who looks like they're doing or about to do a route should be talked to about your intentions for getting on the same route, whether they or you are top-roping, leading, soloing or whatever.
"Getting back to the original question about top roping etiquette. Top roping should only be done on routes were other climbers aren't wanting to climb, and if you've set up your top rope and other climbers come along, it is good etiquette to ask them if they are intending to lead the climb you're on, and if so, to move your ropes aside. Hope that clears this up."
thanks Graham, and thanks to others with sensible opinions, even if i might not agree with them. No thanks go out to those who think i'm a troll.
On grit, it's entirely unnecessary to solo past (or under or over) other climbers. I try not to solo right next to someone either, it puts both of us off what we're doing.
> It was Traditional Climb out of interest.
boo nobody gets cake.
excuse my apparently unjustified suspicion Jon, theres is a bit of a tradition on here of setting up a dummy profile then asking an apparently innocent yet controversial question and sitting back to watch the sparks fly. can be quite entertaining I admit.
> "Getting back to the original question about top roping etiquette. Top roping <can be done anywhere>. If you've set up your top rope and other climbers come along, it is good etiquette to ask them if they are intending to lead the climb you're on, and if so, <provided you are not climbing or imminently about to do so> to move your ropes aside <at the earliest possible juncture and allow them to climb on>. Hope that clears this up."
Your unjustified suspicion's have been excused. ;)
I think I'll leave it a while before i ask anything else :D
lol no, feel free. climbers are like medieval scholars arguing how many angels could dance on the head of a pin when it comes to
the grade of three pebble slab
FYI, the verb "to toprope" is irregular
I headpoint, you toprope, he/she topropes and polishes classics to death.
All I would say is, withhold judgement until you're leading. I think you'll find it's a bit different. The level of commitment to lead a hard route is not really comparable to a top-rope, however hard it is, where you can always hang on the rope if you need to.
Also just read that it was Traditional Climb. One piece of advice you might want to totally ignore. Don't top-rope the good routes, you might regret the chance to lead it onsight in future.
Bear in mind that this IS West Yorkshire we are talking about.
Discussion of etiquette is normally about whether you should use a fork with your pie and peas or will fingers do and where you should put the mint sauce.
Discussion of ethics is normally about where we can bolt next.
I find your question refreshingly normal. Remember what Whymper did on the summit of the Matterhorn when he saw a team coming up the Italian side before he'd got his top-rope in place?
He threw rocks at them. They didn't mess in them days.
TPS is definitely VS 4c by the way...
I am probably alone in thinking people top roping can occupy what ever route they want to have a go at.
I have absolutely no intention of trad climbing, I've done an indoor sport climb and I might have a go at an outdoor sport climb if the occasion presents itself, but it's not how i want to climb.
I enjoy the actual climb, without the fear of violent death - top roping gives me that - that's the way I enjoy the sport, and surely that's the most important thing - enjoying the sport.
It appears to me, to be a similar kind of sport snobbery that some skiers have towards snowboarders.
Probably because you don't (or don't want to) understand the etiquette involved with using of shared and scarce resources.
I think its more akin to the difference between football and table football. I take back my earlier comment, I think theres a definate element of intentional wind up going on here. So I'm just going to take my boots off, pull my chair up and semi keep an eye out to see if anything entertaining develops. Pass the popcorn...
If you enjoyed football would you expect to be allowed to have a bit of a "kickaround" on the pitch during a major cup final match?
I don't know the solution but I think you may be underestimating the magnitude of the question.
You're not kiddin! I am very wound up.
In reply to timjones:
A poor analogy as the pitch is private property. To clarify the point you're making - trad climbers are like premier league footballers, and top ropers just like to kick a ball around?
I never mentioned premier league, how about a local league playing on a publically owned pitch?
It all depends what you aspire to, for many climbers a clean trad lead is a purer aspiration than a top rope. A proliferation of wall bred climbers who only wish to top rope would pose some interesting questions for everyone who wishes to climb regardless of their chosen style.
Skiers are snobby to snowboarders as they look ridiculous on the flat, flapping around like a penguin with both feet strapped to a board. The impracticality of a snowboard is the source of the amusement/derision.
I don't get this. You ask a question, folk give you the answer but then you argue with them? Why bother asking the question in the first place?
I won't try to draw any analogies to climbing here, but the skiing/snowboarding 'snobbery' thing makes sense. Skiing can an extremely useful mode of travel, allowing you to get to certain places more effectively than in any other manner. You can't say the same thing for snowboarding - it's really more of a gimmick.
> I have absolutely no intention of trad climbing,>
Forgive me, if you'd already mentioned this. I had no idea you had closed off your mind to the possibility of becoming involved in the core climbing activity. My comment was based on the premise that you saw top-roping as a way into real climbing (which by the way, I don't think it helps with). If your outdoor climbing consists solely of top-roping, I'd be surprised if you're still doing it in a year's time, let alone a decade from now. But that's just my opinion.....
You can tell it`s wet in the Lakes :-)
I will change my mind here and, playing devil's advocate, relate this to the skiing/snowboarding thing:
Climbing has evolved from mountaineering, a noble pursuit I'm sure you'll agree. Quite simply, leading up a stretch of rock is often the only way to get to many places / up many mountains. Toproping requires you being able to walk round or climb an easier route, only to set up an anchor and go down, only to climb back up again! So rather artificial.
LOL, it`s all a waste of time, Trad Leading, Top roping, X Box just playing around. Barnsey asked about the etiquette, got his answer, now he`s just enjoying the attention.
Indeed, and as many people at many UK crags will point out to you, there's usually an easier way up the back. So UK climbing in general is often rather artificial, or possibly even a 'gimmick'...
Like life, it's all pointless. It's precisely that which makes it great.
It's not, it's crackin' t'flags>
In the strict context of mountaineering, yes. Thankfully climbing has evolved, but it does retain many things, like respect for boldness.
I was happy to hear the answers - up to the point folk with an elitist attitude, starting implying that top roping was some substandard form of climbing and the lead climbers have priority, and I'm less of a climber because of the style choose? There seems to be a impression i've just transitioned from indoor climbing - I'd been climbing outdoors for 4 years or more before I'd even been to an indoor wall.
Clearly people who choose only to top-rope are as welcome here as a fart is in an elevator.
I hope no one here will be this offensive in person if we ever have the misfortune to meet on a crag.
A good debate on ethics and style is all part of climbing. Enjoy it rather rather than taking it personally.
But you must admit that top-roping any route is far less of an achievement than leading it and far less than soloing it? And thus lesser in style and thus 'priority'?
Now you`ve got it.
Some will be, but most will just mutter under their breaths.
Wow, is this debate still on-going? Thought we'd established yesterday that if Jon Barnes has his top-ropes in the way of someone who wants to lead the route, he should just move his ropes aside. He asked a simple question about etiquette, and had a lot of people telling him straight that top-ropers should defer to lead climbers, and yet still the debate rages.
Thought I should chip again and help to keep it raging.
Yes it can get quite abrasive on this forum but in reality so can many other forums. IMO it's more to do with it being a terrible, but convenient, way of communicating or perhaps, more accurately mis-communicating.
With regard to elitism there is no doubt that some climbers are better than others and there is no getting away from that fact. Some say that is elitist. Also in the traditions of climbing the style of ascent is a very important factor so there is,if you like, an unofficial "pecking order" and top roping comes pretty low in that order as does indoor climbing and bolting in some peoples eyes, which is another whole can of worms. There is however no excuse for being arrogant or discourteous and I don't think that the majority on here are either. Most climbers I have known in 50 years trad climb, sports climb and occassionaly top rope. I have never met anyone who only top ropes.
Personally I have never understood why the British, who have otherwise become world experts at the art of queuing, appear to have such a difficulty with it when it comes to climbs. First come, first served; you get one fair go at the problem then you get off (no spending 20 minutes putting a bit of gear in or 20 attempts at the same move when someone is waiting).
If 10 people turn up to a problem, then they form a queue provided they are standing around at the bottom; if I then turn up I don't expect to jump that queue until they have all had a (short) go.
In fact if I am waiting in a queue of 10 people I bloody hope they are top roping because if they are all leading I will be there all day!
If a group of 10 turn up and 5 stand around at the bottom waiting, then I only have to wait for them, not for their 5 mates; I should get to lead up once they have had a go. They shouldn't get priority because they have a rope on it, but they do get priority if they are queuing.
In other countries which have not mastered the noble art of queuing many service locations have those little machines that give you a ticket with a number on. Perhaps these machines could be discreetly installed at the base of all 3 star classics? :P
Top-roping is a substandard form of climbing though.
But the point here is that Jon wasn't at the bottom, or forming a queue, or anything else of the sort. He was at the top of the route, and became disgruntled when someone climbed the route leading that he was in the process of arranging anchors to top rope.
And whether we like it or not, there is a very, very long standing tradition in the UK of the purest form of climbing being that done when leading. Yes, all kinds of other climbing styles have been part of that tradition, but leading has always been seen as what we all should aspire to.
As for bottom/top roping not taking very long, I've been climbing long enough to have witnessed many climbs being taken over for a full day by bottom roping, and while I haven't got a problem with this form of climbing in itself, I think it a bit mean to set up a bottom/top rope system on a classic climb.
Yes, the crags are there for everyone to enjoy, but with that come responsibility for the crag environment, and for the traditions of the sport.
It's a good idea to consider the position of other people when climbing outside particularly.
Anyone setting up a toprope for any length of time ought to be aware of the possibility that in the way of progressing through the grades people might have invested a good deal in climbing that day to fulfil an ambition long standing or otherwise. They might have travelled a considerable distance, stretched domestic arrangements to get the time off and they might not be able to come again for a while or may not have the whole day to wait. In many situations a top roping party might have other options available.
Obviously none of the above may be true in any given situation but I think that topropers should be aware that they might be obstructing someone's progress if they aren't sensitive about crag use, just as someone else asserting an automatic droit de seigneur as a leader might ruin a day out for some disadvantaged kids.
Personally speaking, I'm sorry that you've taken offence. Looking through the thread I think the vast majority of those replying have:
1. not been in the least abusive - they just haven't on the whole supported your position
2. have put forward, mainly, extremely well argued points which are consistent with the traditions of climbing on trad crags and a newcomer can't expect to change these views by force of arguments based on pure reason or "common sense". If you don't like these traditions, then the only answer is stop exposing yourself to them. Most of these people will still be here when you're saying to a friend "I used to do a bit of climbing at one time. Did a few HVSs y'know"
If you've felt like an outsider, it's possibly because of your preference for top-roping. Sorry, but that's how it is.
Yes, I was responding to the general case. In this case it sounds like the lead climber didn't realise a top-rope was being set up.
I think this doesn't really matter; people should just be considerate of others.
Depends whether it is there for you and a mate to nip up faster than you would lead up, or whether you are planning to lead 20 kids up the route who have no idea what route it is and wouldn't care which route it was on.
In the highly unlikely event that 10 people all turned up, desperate to do 'Classic Route A', and all wanted to do it on a single top-rope in a reasonably efficient way, and I got there after them, then I would probably recognise that this was not my day to climb that route.
Normally though with big top-rope groups most of the people don't really care which route they are on. If I was running such a group I would be considerate and strongly consider letting people nip up some of the lines if it was safe/practical.
Perhaps I get my queuing ethics from indoors where hogging a route for ages is not really on! I don't really care what you are doing on a route; if you take ages failing and retrying while I am waiting, I will get annoyed.
It was me ... or at least I was belaying Dave who led the route. Personally I subscribe to the 'let a leader have priority over toproper' brigade but, in the very infrequent times I've toproped, that would apply both ways and the deviding line is if the rope was actually set up and ready to go. Unless the person involved is a scout leader on Knight's Move with 15 kids in walking boots, in which case I'd gently suggest an alternative to let the kids have a good experience whilst not clogging up a classic / adding unnecessary wear & tear.
In your case it wasn't as complicated as all that. It was Dave's turn to lead, he was suffering a bit of Almscliff lassitude, and I encouraged him to get a move on. He hadn't seen your rope and set off. Steve noticed and called to you to make sure you knew. Dave got to top and I thought I heard him giving you some pointers on belays ... which I mention only because it shows he was interested in helping out and grateful for the loan of a belay device.
We were all at the base of the crag 10 minutes later and could easily have had a chat if you'd had questions about etiquette or if you'd felt we'd pushed in ... or whatever.
We live in Leeds, climb regularly and I'm happy to swap contact details if you want to come out with us next time and 2nd routes. Also go to Depot on a regular basis - there tonight if you're interested.
Final thing - thanks. This is the closest I've got to being major news on UKC :-)
What a delightful post.
So, care to answer my question?
I thought so too.
The funny thing is, I had no intention of coming back on here, but I couldn't help but see if everyone's still ranting away in my absence. I'm glad i did, and really I appreciate your response Rich. I'm glad you weren't the pushing in types - yeah I did end up having a chat with Dave at the top. It was a bit annoying, but like i'd said Dave was halfway before I'd noticed. The guy i was climbing with, we're both pretty chilled out folk, but another guy I usually climb with is... less tolerant, and situations have got somewhat uncomfortable in the past when other climbers have tried to muscle in - which is one of the reasons I'd come on here to discuss it - before this thread went a bit mental.
I really do appreciate the invite, and next time we're planning to go for a climb I'll drop you a message to see if you guys are out and about. cheers dude.
Stop being so reasonable. Can't you see that it's all a plot to push in on you again while your guard is down.
A happy ending!
Welll, I was that climber on the route.
I think Rich gave a fair summary of the actuals. I didn't think a rope was being set up, although I could see what I thought was a coiled rope partially visible at the top of the crag. Were I more astute I might have enquired further, but would have approached the discussion with the intention of climbing unless the top ropers were ready to go immediately (especially in the case where I expected to be fairly quick).
I'm sorry if my actions seemed arrogant or made you feel, if not intimidated, then perhaps demeaned. It's just plain rude for some perceived right to be enforced by a wordless action. From your point of view, I think that's what I appeared to do. In retrospect, I should have realised this and acknowledged what had happened.
For what it's worth, I haven't got a problem with top roping. I think the primary crag etiquette should be we treat each other with respect regardless of ability or the exact climbing activity.
I urge you to filter-out any of the tiresome bollox written above which might suggest some pre-defined hierachy.
All the best,
PS The loan of the belay device was most appreciated (although a shambolic waist belay would have been entertaining for you to witness, no doubt).
No....its just that you described some knobish behaviour on the crag which in my opinion is easy to overstate and is much much rarer than bad behaviour on here. That's all... no implied attack.
Bravo! We definitely need a like button on here.
Learn to use an italian friction hitch... all you need is a krab and although it makes the rope kink it is a lot safer than a waist belay unless you are well practiced. Borrowing a belay plate if you can is still preferable though ;-)
you can also use a hex as a belay tube at a pinch. Just poke the rope through it as you would with an atc. have belayed and abeiled off using one of these - works fine so long as you use an appropriate size
They don't Jon, just some people would like you to believe that.
How would this work with children on a top-ropes? Should we move children who are learning to climb out of the way? I don't think so!
At my nearest climbs, part of the rock is taken up with English tourists top-ropping routes all through the summer months. During the spring and autumn months the school kids top rope those rocks as part of their school exercise. If you want to lead those climbs nobody minds (or shouldn't) providing you ask them if they can pull their ropes aside for a few minutes.
What you should never do if its a busy crag is, hog a route or set up more than one route to reserve the rock for yourself. But if you are hogging a route, don't get your knickers in a tangle if a lead climber asks if you can pull your ropes to one side whilst he climbs (chances are he won't be long).
There is room for everyone at the rock. People are at different stages of climbing but they all started somewhere. Whilst you may get the occasional self-righteousness snob, most people are friendly and nice.
Talk about saving the best 'till last. That's the best idea I've heard in ages!
At Harrisons Rocks everyone top-ropes, because the rock is too soft to take gear.
There are still problems with arrogant types hogging the lines (and getting shirty if you ask to go on the line while they are eating sandwiches etc), so it is more about personality than climbing style. I have even seen a pair of climbers set up ropes on 2 separate climbs, even though they could only climb one at a time. The rest of us often swap about and use each other's ropes, and don't mind being asked if the line is about to come free.
My take: No rules, just do your best to communicate and cooperate. Shrug it off when it goes wrong, it's usually just a misunderstanding and nothing a quick change of plan/route won't sort out.
It probably depends on the route too. If you've set up a top-rope on a 3* classic with the intention of hogging it for the next few hours then expect people to jump on it.
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