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Efficient rope management with two ropes


Original Post
Andrew Mark · · Austin, TX · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 48

When climbing a wall in a day (or a wall where you fixed a couple pitches the day before), you often end up climbing with two ropes: your lead rope, and second rope so you can easily retreat. In this situation, what are strategies for clean/simple rope management? Do you belay the follower (on a free pitch) at the same time as you pull up and stack the second line? Do you leave the second line hanging and deal with it when the follower gets to the belay? It seems like there is more opportunity for the line to get stuck or blow around in the wind in that case. 

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

If you trail it as the leader, you pull it up before the second starts climbing for the reason you point out- in case it gets stuck. 

Or, the second carries it in a pack. 

Andrew Mark · · Austin, TX · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 48

That makes a lot of sense. So put the second on belay (so they can clean the anchor) and start pulling up the tag line. Then have the second start climbing once the tag line is stacked and clipped to the anchor. I imagine you can leave the tag line stacked and clipped to the anchor, then have them unravel it from the stack themselves as they climb. Seems like if the leader is carry a relatively empty small pack, they could also use it as a rope bag for the tag line. If swapping leads, you'd both need a small, pretty much empty pack. Seems like that could speed things up a tad.

wsperry · · San Jose/Lafayette · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 110

If you are not employing that tag line for anything, like hauling or tagging up gear, I would definitely stuff it in a backpack on the follower. If you climb trailing it behind you and are not clipping it into anything on the way up, you run the risk of getting it blown off route and snagged on something.

Andrew Mark · · Austin, TX · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 48
Andrew Mark wrote:

That makes a lot of sense. So put the second on belay (so they can clean the anchor) and start pulling up the tag line. Then have the second start climbing once the tag line is stacked and clipped to the anchor. I imagine you can leave the tag line stacked and clipped to the anchor, then have them unravel it from the stack themselves as they climb. Seems like if the leader is carry a relatively empty small pack, they could also use it as a rope bag for the tag line. If swapping leads, you'd both need a small, pretty much empty pack. Seems like that could speed things up a tad.

To be clear, I am suggesting using the pack as a stuff sack for the rope at the belay so you don't have to deal with coiling it up nicely. 

Andrew Mark · · Austin, TX · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 48
wsperry wrote:

If you are not employing that tag line for anything, like hauling or tagging up gear, I would definitely stuff it in a backpack on the follower. If you climb trailing it behind you and are not clipping it into anything on the way up, you run the risk of getting it blown off route and snagged on something.

If you used the rope to fix pitches, chances are it's a pretty thick/heavy line, just not a 7 mm rap cord. Not sure the follower will want to carry a 70m rope on their back. Right?

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

If you used the rope to fix pitches, chances are it's a pretty thick/heavy line, just not a 7 mm rap cord. Not sure the follower will want to carry a 70m rope on their back. Right?

Depends on how hard the pitch is. If its easy- maybe no biggie and it would be faster. If it's hard- then yeah.

I've done it both ways- if i trail the line, i have a spare sling and butterfly coil the trail line large to small and hang it on the anchor. Second arrives, grabs gear, grabs the trail line and climbs- no tending or extra work is necessary- the line feeds by itself.

The Blueprint Part Dank · · FEMA Region VIII · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 460

Exactly which order I bring the ropes up depends on the size/quality of the belay I'm at. What is an absolute must do is re-stacking both ropes before starting off on the next pitch 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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