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Thread: Climbing observer - stupid question alert

  1. #1
    Supporting Member AlaskanSD's Avatar
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    Default Climbing observer - stupid question alert

    Okay - so I've never rock climbed more than a climbing wall, but I see folks climbing along turnagain arm all the time.

    Here's my question. How the heck do you get your anchor and rope secured at the top? If you have to climb up to set your anchor for the rope to belay another climber, you've already climbed it - so what's the point?

    I'm sure it's something simple I'm missing, I'd just like to be enlighted. I've used ropes and ascenders to climb trees, but I have to throw my line up and secure it before hanging off it. And I've been to REI and seen the anchors/cams for wedging into cracks in the rock, etc - I just can't imagine placing those anchors without physically being at the top.

    Placing an anchor as high as you can reach physically while hanging seems like it would be painfully slow going with ascenders and gaining three feet every couple minutes.

    Thanks for enlightening this dummy regarding climbing.

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    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
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    As a general rule, they are not "top roping". There are routes up a lot of those walls that already have anchors set that they clip their rope into as they go up, and on the ones that are not set the climbers carry anchors up with them and set them as they climb. You will rarely see top roping outside of a rock gym.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    It's called lead climbing, you either clip into bolts that have been drilled into the rock, or you place protection (cams, nuts etc) into the cracks. You clip the rope as you go, and the fall is limited by how high you are above your last piece, and how much the rope stretches. Lets say you are 5' out, you fall that 5' below the anchor plus stretch for say a 15' total fall. In general the best aproach is don't fall, the rope is only there for protection, not for upward progress.

    There are very few cracks in the rocks on turnagain, so most routes use bolts. Some routes can be aproached from the top to set a top rope, but most are lead from the ground up. Here are some pics of my kids leading a short route last summer.







    Here's a pic of me ice climbing this spring



    As you can see, the rope goes from the ground up to the climber, not top down.

    Placing protection above your head and aiding up on it is painfully slow, but for some routes, paticularly those on El Capitan in Yosemite, its the way to go. Ascenders aren't used, eitriers which are webbing ladders are clipped onto the piece, then climbed up to place the next one.

  4. #4
    Supporting Member AlaskanSD's Avatar
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    Thanks guys! The top roping I observed must've been a pretty commonly used anchor at the top.

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