/ KLead solo climbing (trad)

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Blair2904 on 07 Jun 2018

Iv been climbing for years now but finding it harder to find partners now that everyone is finishing school/college/uni and starting to get jobs build families etc. Iv always been intrigued by solo climbing and have decided to give it at bash and want to hear what anyone’s experiences are with. I’m from Scotland so I’ll be placing gear and building trad anchors for it. Just wanted to know for anyone who does this what method/device they use and how easy is it building multidirectional anchor with trad gear?



Post edited at 10:23
C Witter on 07 Jun 2018
In reply to Blair2904:

Maybe just try harder to find a partner! Friendship circles, local climbing wall, clubs and internet sites are all options. A big part of the joy of climbing is getting to meet and spend time with really good people. Sometimes there are dry patches, where it's hard to find someone you click with, but you'll find someone eventually.

If you're asking how easy it is to build a multidirectional anchor, I think you're going to find rope solo-ing pretty fiddly and unnerving. There's crap-tonnes of stuff written about rope soloing all over the web though! The more you read about it, the more you realise it's a schlep.

cbonner - on 07 Jun 2018
In reply to Blair2904:

I would recommend Andy Kirkpatrick's book, Me, myself and I. Although focused more on aid climbing it's still applicable and has lots of good advice.


I myself use the grigri, and always tie a backup knot!

Be safe out there.

Wiley Coyote2 - on 07 Jun 2018
In reply to Blair2904:

If I was looking for a way to  drain every ounce of pleasure out of climbing I think I'd be hard put to come up anything half so efficient as roped soloing. To do it safely (or even unsafely) is  the most godawful faff - and I actually enjoy soloing! Added to that, when you get to the pub afterwards the Gri-Gri is a very boring companion and it never buys its round.


Blair2904 on 07 Jun 2018
In reply to cbonner:

I have purchased that book and that is what has inspired me to do it. I’m not talking about big walls I’m more meaning just your normal day out climbing but doing it myself. I had planned to either use a grigri with a steel krab with back up knots aswell as a back up figure of eight or cloth hitch. When it comes to finding a partner I can probably quite easily do that but there’s something that draws me towards the solo aspect of it, going out myself and doing it all by myself aswell. 

David Coley - on 07 Jun 2018
In reply to Blair2904:

1. Make strenuous efforts to join several clubs. This is cheaper than you might think as you only have to pay the BMC element once.

2. With 2 ropes you can rap then top rope solo 120m of ground. Secure the rope a couple of times to avoid excessive stretch. Most UK climbs are shorter than this. And you will get far more climbing in. 

3. Visit and buy the book. Then visit somewhere like the Ecrin, where there are 10 pitch bolted routes to lead rope solo. 

4. Only now consider lead trad soloing. 

Happy climbing 

mauraman on 07 Jun 2018
In reply to David Coley:

I am a "low grades" climber and relatively new to trad ( a few years). Obviously I do not recommend it to anyone as it is a highly dangerous activity, etc...but I enjoy it and get satisfaction from being self reliant and alone in the mountains. I also found that it gave me confidence and more competence on  rope work, gear placement, building anchors, etc..

I use the clove hitch system, as I am climbing on low grades routes, I can always find a way of pulling the rope through with one hand. I would like to climb with the famous silent partner, which will make things sooo much smoother, but I still didn't found one to buy. I am now awaiting to see if the wild country revo will be released and may be try with that.


MFB - on 07 Jun 2018
In reply to Blair2904:

Great way to spend time in the mountains very different experience from climbing with partner or soloing, 2 ropes? maybe but it's a lot to carry up a hill, loads of cams for multi directional belays,  clove hitch

Paz - on 08 Jun 2018
In reply to Blair2904:

Two words:  massive faff.  I find it's also harder to get psyched. 

I do recommend trying lead soloing out as it's a good skill (if the shit hits the fan  and you need to climb out of somewhere) and jumping off on to trad gear to test the system on my own was really exciting. 

It does in theory sound like a great way to get mileage in for training, but I'd personally just use it to clipstick my way up to get to the top, and then just shunt whatever routes I wanted to do on a fixed top rope.

I've only rope solo'd trad once on a safe vertical HVS I know every inch of, that also has an ab point right above it.  Setting the ground anchor up took ages, but you can back them up by clove hitching any runners that can take an upwards pull.  I used a DM Gri-gri and inverted shunt which I don't recommend (probably not recommended to use two systems either, but a mate used it a shunt a lot).  When I modded my gri-gri I didn't leave enough metal in the flap to have a nice wide groove (there was a horrible thin sliver left from drilling into it, so I just cut it off and smoothed it down).  You might as well just use a junior hacksaw and wet and dry. 

I've done a few single pitch sport routes too.  I found it was a pain to pay out slack to clip, so just climbed higher on tnhe botls and clipped in with long extending quickdrawes.  It made things even spicier, but they were just easy routes.  A few years ago at Wyndcliffe Quarry I completely messed up trying to come back down and strip the pitch above the HVS crack thing, and got a bit stuck close to the ground.  I think I forgot to pay out enough slack on the lead line so that there would then be enough rope to reach the ground without abseiling into the ground anchor, or because the route traversed, I took up more of this slack than I thought I would.  At a bolt 'lower off', you're not on an end of the rope so you can't easily rethread a sport anchor (that you can't just clip into) without emptying all your neatly coiled rope out of your bag and taking the backup slip knots out.

Post edited at 17:36
philhilo - on 13 Jun 2018
In reply to Blair2904:

Make sure you take it steady with progress, you need a lot of tricks up your sleeve, a steady head, and patience. Even sport is slow. I just did one of the 6 pitch sport routes in the Llanberis slate quarries and I averaged 1hr 30min a pitch ( plenty of mistakes so could have been 1hr maybe) - add to that the slow access and egress and it makes a long day. However it gives me a huge sense of satisfaction, knowing I did something entirely by myself requiring many skills and concentration. Trad belays are another element of commitee but entirely doable.

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