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Whats with the rope over the shoulder?


Original Post
Clayton Knudson · · Moab, UT · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 35

I'm confused about the rope over the shoulder while starting a climb before the first bolt. Anybody know the actual reasoning for this or where it came from? I don't sport climb a ton but seem to see it every time I'm out. I used to work at a gym that taught this, but since nobody could come up with a good reason as to why they were teaching it we stopped. I just thought it was a weird thing they did there but I guess its more prevalent than I thought.

rozaosa · · Mordor · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 10

Just helps to get the rope out of the way from your feet and make it more accessible to clip. Also puts slack in the system so the belayer can properly spot and doesn't need to worry about paying out for the first bolt.  IMO for what it's worth

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,053

It's your first bight, pre-pulled. In theory it gets you clipped in quicker. It also looks like a good way to get injured by a rope. If you fall after or while clipping or while letting it drop off your arm bad things could happen. It also puts the rope potentially behind a leg. JB

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0

Mostly a looks cool/party trick that often ends up in the first draw being back clipped type of thing.  But there are situations where it can be useful as Alex suggested.

David Tennant · · Denver, CO · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 2,043

Anytime I ever do it, it's just to mitigate risk with clipping a high first bolt, so I don't have to reach down and do two pulls (one to head level, one to bolt level) to get that first high (above the head) clip. 

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294

I saw someone do that when I first started climbing (more than ten years ago) and I thought it was a good idea, so I tried it a few times. But I quickly stopped because it’s just more trouble than it’s worth. The idea is to keep the rope out of the way so you don’t step on it, but if you can’t climb well with the rope hanging below you... then you’re in real trouble after that first bolt. You end up spending more time figuring out which way to flick the rope so you don’t backclip or to unwrap your arm from under the rope. Better just to climb normally, or stick clip that first bolt if you’re "mitigating a risk".

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

No idea. You shouldn't need to do "two pulls" as there's no friction between you and the rope piled on the ground. 

If the clip is dicey, you should stick clip the first bolt anyway. 

Luke Bertelsen · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Feb 2005 · Points: 2,851

IT'S CALLED A STICK CLIP

Seriously.  Get one.

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 250
aikibujin wrote:

I saw someone do that when I first started climbing (more than ten years ago) and I thought it was a good idea, so I tried it a few times. But I quickly stopped because it’s just more trouble than it’s worth. The idea is to keep the rope out of the way so you don’t step on it, but if you can’t climb well with the rope hanging below you... then you’re in a real trouble after that first bolt. You end up spending more time figuring out which way to flick the rope so you don’t backclip or to unwrap your arm from under the rope. Better just to climb normally, or stick clip that first bolt if you’re "mitigating a risk".

Yep! When I first started climbing, some people told me that it was a "good idea" and it would "make the first clip easier". It only took couple tries to figure out that it is a stupid idea that doesn't help in any way. If anything, it is more awkward to get that rope off your shoulder and not have it tangle around your neck, than it is to do the pull move that you do exactly the same way as you do every other clip.

Needless to say, I do not do this. :)

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

I typically see this with what I'd call beginner+ climbers trying to show beginner climbers how awesome they are. There is literally no reason to ever do this and no advantage to it in any situation. 

It's somewhere below blowing chalk off your fingertips or taking your shirt off mid climb in terms of usefulness or coolness.

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:

It's somewhere below blowing chalk off your fingertips or taking your shirt off mid climb in terms of usefulness or coolness.

I'm far from being cool, but I do blow on my finger tips BEFORE I chalk. I find that little bit of forced air helps cool my finger tips and dry them a little. 

Yeah, the video below is basically what my fingers are like when I'm climbing.


Wilburn · · Cheyenne, WY · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 350

It's a great way to backclip your first draw. I've done dozens of times since 2015.

cyclestupor · · Woodland Park, Colorado · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 93
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:

It's somewhere below blowing chalk off your fingertips or taking your shirt off mid climb in terms of usefulness or coolness.

Huh, what's wrong w. blowing chalk off your finger tips.  I do this frequently, especially when I don't have a chalk ball.  If I don't blow the chalk off of my finger tips, then I end up plastering every hold i touch in a thick layer of chalk.  Personally, I don't like having a lot of chalk on my fingers & hands.  I find my grip is best when my hands are dry but mostly clean.

As far as the rope over the shoulder thing, that just sounds silly.  Seems like it would be quite hard to avoid back clipping the first bolt.   You would have to flip the rope off your shoulder and around your arm/body, or you would have to put a half twist in the rope before clipping just to avoid back clipping.  Then if you fell right after clipping you could easily get tangled up in the rope, since it could be running behind your calf, around your waist, or still over your shoulder.

If you are so uncomfortable making the first clip that you cant pull up the rope, then you are climbing a route you don't belong on, or you are clipping from the wrong stance.  If you are in the gym, then you have a crash pad under you, so who cares if you blow the first clip.  Use a stick clip if the start is sketchy, or clip it like normal.  Putting it over the shoulder will just cause more problems than it solves.

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

One lighthearted post comparing one objectively pointless practice to another objectively pointless practice and we've already got two posts defending the compared pointless practice as useful. 

Should I rephrase and just say you never need to throw the rope over your shoulder?

Should I double down and restate that blowing chalk off your fingers is indeed pointless thereby guaranteeing multiple pages of off topic chalk blower defense?

Covfefe?

Jason Halladay · · Los Alamos, NM · Joined Oct 2005 · Points: 11,797
Clayton Knudson wrote:

I'm confused about the rope over the shoulder while starting a climb before the first bolt. Anybody know the actual reasoning for this or where it came from? I don't sport climb a ton but seem to see it every time I'm out. I used to work at a gym that taught this, but since nobody could come up with a good reason as to why they were teaching it we stopped. I just thought it was a weird thing they did there but I guess its more prevalent than I thought.

I've only ever seen the practice in gyms or from gym-weaned climbers during their early days outside climbing. It doesn't last long, seemingly. As posted earlier in the thread, it typically leads to more trouble than it's worth. 

Jeff G. · · Fort Collins · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 865
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:

I typically see this with what I'd call beginner+ climbers trying to show beginner climbers how awesome they are. There is literally no reason to ever do this and no advantage to it in any situation. 

It's somewhere below blowing chalk off your fingertips or taking your shirt off mid climb in terms of usefulness or coolness.

I'd say this is spot on!  

I do, on occasion, blow chalk off my fingertips.  And every time I  do it this inner voice says "wow, that was gay, why did I do that?"

AndyMac · · Center, CO · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 580
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:

.. or taking your shirt off mid climb in terms of usefulness or coolness.

How dare you question the usefulness, let alone the supreme coolness of taking your shirt off mid climb. Just don't dare do it standing on a ledge or it is even less cool than the endless shit show that ensues from putting the rope over your shoulder.

Tomily ma · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 290

When I redpointed my first 5.7c outdoors I had the rope over my shoulder, major confidence booster. Then downclimbed to undo the backclip. 

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:

One lighthearted post comparing one objectively pointless practice to another objectively pointless practice and we've already got two posts defending the compared pointless practice as useful. 

My post was pretty lighthearted too, I'm not defending blowing chalk off your fingers, I'm just giving you another perspective on why someone would want to blow on their finger tips (i.e., not to blow off chalk). But hey, you can keep calling it pointless, it won't hurt my feelings.

But what about puppies? Can we at least all agree that puppies are really cute?

cyclestupor · · Woodland Park, Colorado · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 93
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:

One lighthearted post comparing one objectively pointless practice to another objectively pointless practice and we've already got two posts defending the compared pointless practice as useful. 

Should I rephrase and just say you never need to throw the rope over your shoulder?

Should I double down and restate that blowing chalk off your fingers is indeed pointless thereby guaranteeing multiple pages of off topic chalk blower defense?

Covfefe?

Lol.  Well said.  You got me.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Yeah...tried it once and vowed to never do it again.  At best it's a waste of time.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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