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Top Rope Solo - Micro Traxion and Tibloc Combi

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 Tall Oak 17 Jul 2021

Evening all,

I am looking into top rope soloing in the future and from looking at the fountain of knowledge (or maybe not) Youtube there are various setups for soloing.

What is slightly unclear to me is if a Petzl Micro Traxion can be used on its own if JUST top roping? Or, and probably advisable if a back up should be added also. It was here that I thought that a Traxion as a main and a Tibloc working as a secondary may be a practical idea.

Anyone have any experience with top rope soloing and if so is the consensus that a Traxion should be backed up if just top roping, and whether a Tibloc would be a good secondary option?

Cheers

P.S. I have selected the Tibloc for its simplicity and also its weight (next to nothing). 

Post edited at 21:56
In reply to Tall Oak:

There's a good group for TRS on Facebook with pages of information and all combinations of devices all discussed.

Lots of people keen to invent all sorts of solutions but to keep it simple,  start with devices recommended by the manufacturer for the target application,  e.g. petzl suggest combination of Micro Traxion and Microcender.

Tibloc not a great idea at all for any type of dynamic load,  you'd be better off sliding a clove hitch on a screw gate.

 Tall Oak 17 Jul 2021
In reply to Sandstone Stickman:

Thanks for this. I'll check out. 

Noted on the Tibloc too. Just seen a few posts saying exactly this about not using a Tibloc

 uniquechill 17 Jul 2021
In reply to Tall Oak:

There seems to be a lot of different approaches used for TRS.  I have no experience with Tibloc but use a 40 year old Jumar backed up with a much newer Microtraxion.  I've never had an issue with the Jumar, so the Microtrax is just along for the ride.  I think whatever device you use should be backed up, just because I'm kind of chicken.

 Tall Oak 18 Jul 2021
In reply to Tall Oak:

Thanks folk. 

I didn't realise Petzl has an 'work' section with loads of cool professional aspects for safe working at height. Probably banal of me i know. Good info however. 

In reply to Tall Oak:

Definitely do not use the Tibloc for rope solo, the teeth are too aggressive.

The Micro trax is great and a standard part of most setups. However, it can fail if left open, or something jams in the mechanism.  Its also a pain to release once loaded.

Unless you have a death wish, as with all climbing, use a backup (2 devices). This can be a jumar, rollnlock, shunt etc.

I use a Taz Lov3 as main device with Micro Trax as backup, on a semi static rope. Its the best setup by far, and I've tried almost everything.

 danprince 18 Jul 2021
In reply to Tall Oak:

Only been rope-soloing for a few months, so take with a grain of inexperience, but I have done a decent amount of climbing in that time.

It's my understanding that Petzl recommend against using a Microtrax without a backup. Personally I have climbed easier routes with a Microtrax with no backup, but the vast majority of the time I back it up with a RollNLock (extended above on a short sling, needs tension above to stop it interacting with the Traxion).

It's possible to lock the Microtrax open (pulley mode) with a push which seems a little bit scary if you're planning on using it without a backup. I have heard that there's a mechanical modification you can do to prevent this, but that also sounds like it would make it harder to get it off the rope.

The other consideration is that the teeth on the Microtrax are fairly aggressive, so having the RollNLock above allows you to put the majority of the strain onto its ridged cam instead during falls.

If I know I want to work a specific section of moves repeatedly, then I've started to swap the Microtrax out for a GriGri instead, whilst keeping the RollNLock as a backup. It makes it much easier to load the GriGri, release the RollNLock then lower back down, re-install and climb again.
 

In reply to danprince:

I've minimal experience of TRS. I've got a RollNLok and my backup "device"  is simply the knot which is usually the 3rd backup in most systems. IMHO the knot itself is probably more reliable than any device but is obviously awkward and a faff if done frequently, and obviously if the primary device fails a fall is involved rather than basically just being held by a primary/secondary device as if one was a second.

I think a recent thread ( https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/120899015/rollnlock-and-petzl-microcender-as-top-tope-solo-set-up ) mentioned possible failure modes for the RollNLok . Reading various threads and refs many people think damage to a sheath from toothed devices such the Microtrax is unlikely, presumably partly because on a good setup the climber will be held immediately.

Post edited at 11:38
 Holdtickler 18 Jul 2021
In reply to Tall Oak:

TRS can be a bit of a minefield. There are lots of devices, lots of different setups by lots of different people. There's also lots of vague and some dodgy advice out there (especially on that FB group!), especially when people's egos can get attached to their setups. 

One point that often gets overlooked it seems is that it is important that the 2 devices don't interfere with one another, either by the way they feed the rope or by physically touching. 

In some poor setups, adding a 2nd device can actually make the whole system more dangerous. 

I tend to have my primary device, which is extended with a sling away from my belay loop and also attached via a piece of elastic to a chest harness, on a weighted line (which all helps it feed smoothly and the elastic preventing you getting uncomfortably hung up on your chest harness instead transferring all the weight to your sit harness) 

I have my secondary device on a 2nd unweighted rope strand directly on my sit harness. This serves several functions. The devices don't touch, It doesn't affect the smooth feeding of my main device or allow any slack to build up (dynamic fall danger). If for any reason my main device chewed up the rope, I've got redundancy. The unweighted rope is easier to tie regular back up knots in and also acts as your ab line if you want to get down easily. This is especially handy if you are doing laps. 

I'll often fix a single rope in the middle making the 2 strands and it doesn't significantly lengthen setup time. With the whole setup, make sure there aren't any loose tails, slings or anything (maybe from your chest harness or elastic) that can get jammed in the devices as this can cause them to fail. Rigging to avoid rope rub is really important as are using rope protectors. Sometimes rebelaying and deviations (runners) will also help with this in less ideal situations.

In reply to oldie:

Just be aware that there is a known failure of the rollnlock at certain angles.

Also if you fall a distance onto a knot, then the forces involved can damage parts of the system (rope, device, cross loads etc). If its just 1 thing attaching you at that point, then then its not the safest way to do it.

Petzl have info on MTrax damage on different ropes on their website, (essentially you ok for about 1m fall distance depending on the rope type).

In reply to Tall Oak:

>...I didn't realise Petzl has an 'work' section with loads of cool professional... ...

Petzl and Troll (now defunct except for some clothing) were the original pioneers of rope access harnesses and equipment

 steveb2006 18 Jul 2021
In reply to Tall Oak:

Ive used a Camp Lift as main device (no teeth) and Petzl Micro Traxion as secondary device. This has worked quite well for me. Decided to use these after reading this article...https://blog.weighmyrack.com/guide-to-best-setup-for-toprope-tr-soloing/

 Hooo 18 Jul 2021
In reply to Steve Claw:

I've never heard of the Taz Lov 3 so I Googled it. It looks really good and I'm quite tempted. It's bloody expensive though!

I use a SAR Rocker and I've never tried anything else. It looks like it works on the same principle as the Taz, but without the extra features. It would be really nice to be able to switch to descending without having to use a separate device.

In reply to Hooo:

The Taz Lov is ace. Think of it like a self feeding Grigri. Its used in the rope access industry, and can even descent a weighted rope!

Unlike all the other devices, its approved for use as a fall arrester. Remember a Mtrax is just a capture pulley, and most manufacturers do not want to recommend their products for rope solo.

Its so much safer not having to change devices to descend. Makes working cruxes super easy as well.

 Tall Oak 19 Jul 2021
In reply to steveb2006:

HI Steve,

I cannot afford the Taz Lov 3 so looking at the option you recommened. Cna I ask if there are any negatives from your use I should know of?

Many thanks

 steveb2006 20 Jul 2021
In reply to Tall Oak:

Wow the Taz Lov 3 is expensive!

Re the Camp Lift / Microtraxion, Can't think of any particular negatives - any such system is bit faffy and needs a bit of trying out before using in anger. The Lift is kind to the rope.

Steve

In reply to Steve Claw:

> Just be aware that there is a known failure of the rollnlock at certain angles.> Also if you fall a distance onto a knot, then the forces involved can damage parts of the system (rope, device, cross loads etc). If its just 1 thing attaching you at that point, then then its not the safest way to do it.> Petzl have info on MTrax damage on different ropes on their website, (essentially you ok for about 1m fall distance depending on the rope type).

Thanks, TBH I was influenced in avoiding buying a Microtrax by posts about sheath damage with toothed devices....these seems to be largely unjustified.

I just want TRS for routes I'm unlikely to fall off ( so ultimately rope damage would be acceptable to me so long as it wasn't rope failure!). If I've got sufficient rope for a second strand then I can of course actually clip into that at intervals. I just have a sliding maillon otherwise (I had even considered tying a small sliding loop of cord as backup for the maillon, though if any primary device failure had not involved it opening then that device should also back up the maillon). I use anti cross-loading krabs. At least far less risky than soloing.

In reply to Tall Oak:

I have tried a few options and recently settled on a Micro Traxion backed up with a Maillon on a separate extender, this needs threading onto the rope and the extender is larks footed into the belay loop, this gives two independent systems that don't foul with each over. I tie an overhand knot whenever I get a no-hands rest and if that's not possible I tie one while dangling. For the descent, I use a GriGri (lock-off is handy for taking knots out) via its own screw gate and lock the Micro Traxion cam open so I don't need to take anything off. Just remember to flip Micro Traxion cam switch when swapping back to ascent mode. For peace of mind I start every ascent with a quick take in of slack and fully weight the rope to check everything is working. For info the Micro Traxion has always held and slides up really easily.

The only minor points to add are that to keep the rope rolling through the Micro Traxion you need a little bit of weight pulling it so I coil and clip the spare rope so it's just of the ground. While not essential a static rope also makes the whole thing a lot less bouncy and feels more secure when fall.

Have a plan, the kit and practice what you are going to do if it's steep and you find yourself dangling and unable to climb higher. It can be tricky to transfer to abseil or assisted ascent but with the Traxion already there you don't need much more than a prussic, some carabiners and a spare sling or two.

Post edited at 11:42

 Andy Johnson 21 Jul 2021
In reply to Sandstone Stickman:

> There's a good group for TRS on Facebook with pages of information and all combinations of devices all discussed.

I joined that group, and the main LRS one, out of curiosity and wanting to learn more about best practice. The groups seemed to be mainly about people sharing pics of their setup and arguing about why theres is superior. And I'm not convinced there is much consensus on best practice either - more a kind of folk law. I left the groups.

In reply to DMOB:

Is that a static rope?

If it is then you can't have the Mallion/knot backup, due to the shock load on your body.

If its dynamic, then ok.

In reply to Steve Claw:

Steve, yes good point, thanks for flagging. I'll remove the reference to the "static" rope. TBH it still feels pretty stretchy when there is 20 or 30m of it out but might not feel so good as a backup over 5m.

In reply to DMOB:

Thanks for the feedback on this, the Maillon/Knot backup should only be used on a dynamic rope and not a static rope as pictured/discussed.

 Tall Oak 22 Jul 2021
In reply to DMOB:

I like this setup as its simple and generally much cheaper. Having looked for a Camp Lift Taz Lov 3 I will have to wait till the pay checks come back in. More reason then for the time being to use a 'trailing mallion' with knots in the rope (when practicable and needed for perhaps cruxes)). 

When I read what you were doing I also thought perhaps a dynamic rope with say 60m as its length that when setting up the abb rope for TRS, and if the route is less then 30m, then one rope takes the MTrax and the other is purely for the mallion and knots. If longer route then perhaps two independent ropes...?

My idea is, and I agree with other forum users, is that with the MTrax being weighted (i use my DIY holster and normally pack it with rocks I find at the crag) the second rope is then much easier to make knots in as no weight suspended at the bottom. Just a thought and hopefully makes this system easier?

Another question if I may is whether a figure of 8 on a bite would be better with a carabiner then through the loop and tied to the downward rope, or, alternatively, a clove hitch around a crab, again with the crab then clipped also to the downward rope. Any experience folks with what knot to use? 

Final question too about the Mtrax. Did i read right that the MTraxx can take very roughly a 1m fall onto the device???

In reply to Tall Oak:

Yes, those Taz Lov3's are pretty versatile bits of kit, a great design. I think the rope access approach is often to use 2 ropes and a separate device on each rope, a good principle from a redundancy point of view, especially from a rope protection perspective. Def worth a try if it works for you. I'm in the Lakes and their aren't many suitable short crags, I often use a lot of rope up in the anchor and I'm a bit lazy for lugging up two ropes!

I have tried a few different devices, Wild Country Rope Man, Jummar etc and the MTraxx seems to slide up really easily, I think it's because it uses a rotating pulley rather than a fixed bit of metal to oppose the cam.  You need very little weight below it to keep the rope feeding through, this means tying knots and abseiling on the same rope is no trouble.

Regarding the knots, I have seen everything used and occasionally none at all. My personal reasoning is that the overhand on the bight is effectively the same knot you would use to join two ropes for an abseil, the loading is a bit different mind but they do seem resistant to undoing, clipping a crab through would certainly ease any concerns. The maillon that I use is deliberately pretty small and only a fraction bigger than the rope. I have seen some people do away with the maillon and just tie knots below the device,  that seems to place more faith in the mechanics of the gadget not exploding as it hits the knot and probably not something its design for.

If you load the rope then I have noticed that it ends up rubbing on the rock often in multiple locations, especially on the Lakes crags where the routes tend to peter out and your main belay is well up. To get around this I have resorted to doing a "rebelay". If you spot a bomber gear placement near the top of the propper climbing, place the gear clip a draw and clove hitch the rope to it with no slack above, the new placement takes all the load but with the backup above if something goes wrong. Dave MacLeod does a good video showing this on some pretty gnarly terrain (How to self-belay with a Shunt). The other thing I almost always end up doing is using a rope protector (or a rucksack on a prussic, fleece, piece of carpet etc), it's surprising how quickly ropes get worn even when rubbing under load over what looks to be smooth rock.

In reply to DMOB:

> Thanks for the feedback on this, the Maillon/Knot backup should only be used on a dynamic rope and not a static rope as pictured/discussed. <

Stating the obvious,  that means if using only one rope, rather than two, for TRS one should not use a low stretch ("static") rope for TRS since the ultimate backup of a knot should not be used.

Just musing out of interest only. If someone did use a static as the sole rope then I assume it might still be worth considering a knot.  I've little knowledge of the factors involved but presumably a static rope would usually remain intact (I think its certified  basically for a F1 fall), and cushioning by the the harness, slight rope stretch, and short distance between knots might prevent injury and  be less risky than  a ground fall. I wonder if hypothetically a screamer between maillon and belay loop would be useful.
 

 Holdtickler 20:15 Sun
In reply to DMOB:

Just a word of warning about abseiling with your Mtrax locked open. I did this for a time to save the faff of taking off but found on several occasions that the cam re-engaged whilst abseiling. I think this is more of an annoyance rather than a danger but I don't know. It jolts as it engages obviously, but probably not the kindest thing to your rope when it does. I wouldn't want to be descending quickly when it does that though. The faff of transferring weight again to unlock it has lead me just to remove the Mtrax whilst descending now and I feel safer knowing that won't happen.

Note: I'm using a mini trax though so they may have improved this design with the micro.

Ever had this issue?

Post edited at 20:18
 Tall Oak 21:15 Mon
In reply to DMOB:

Thanks DMOB. Really very helpful information.

Happy climbing, albeit TRSing too. 

In reply to Tall Oak:

What are your reasons for not choosing a shunt? When I look at mine and wonder if after 25 years of occasional top rope soloing on it, I should get something different - I tend to think good enough for Dave MacLeod working his next E10, good enough for me. 


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