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More than one rappel on single pitch route?


Original Post
Ryan Van Dyke · · Rolla, MO · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 25

So my local crag is super undeveloped. Lots of unclimbed (and chossy) rock. I'm looking at some possible lines that I think look pretty rad. One in particular is presenting a bit of a challenge, though. Usually with possible new routes, we just set up a top rope, see if it goes and if it's cool, and then bolt. Trad leading isn't a thing here; I'm in Missouri, and if you could even find gear placement it would probably pop anyways on rock this soft.

This particular route seems like it's a few meters longer than 30. Possibly 5-10, haven't measured yet. But we only have 60 meter ropes. So how does one go about climbing a route that has no bolts, and can't be trad led? I should also mention the top is accessible by hike, but it's not something you'd want to do every time you wanted to climb that route. Set up the top rope anchor and have someone belay from up top on a guide ATC?

Now, let's say the line goes, and it's awesome. Great, let's bolt it. How do you lower off the route? Obviously you can't lower through the anchor at the end of the route, because your belayer will run out of rope. Do you just lower until they're nearly out of rope, go in direct to a bolt, pull the rope and get lowered the rest of the way? Or could you rappel partway down the route to a second anchor, and then set up another rappel to the ground? Just wanted to see what you guys thought was the most efficient way.

Eli . · · GMC3500 · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 3,199

70 or 80m ropes are a thing.

C Archibolt · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 876

Get a 70m rope?

Ryan Van Dyke · · Rolla, MO · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 25

I mean yeah... But for one route? When I just bought a 60m rope? Plus the lowering/rappelling question is still valid, even if I buy a 70m rope. Every single other climb at this crag is 60m, so what's someone with a 60m rope supposed to do when they find out their rope is too short?

Stephen D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 20

Top belay, have your follower bring up a tag line, and double rope rap?

35m climbs can usually be done with a 60m when rope stretch is accounted for anyway

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 579

If you end up bolting the route, why don't you just put the anchors 30 meters up the cliff, i.e. 5 meters down from the top? 

Joe Garibay · · Ventura, Ca · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 96
Mark E Dixon wrote:

Why don't you put the anchors 30 meters up the cliff, i.e. 5 meters down from the top? 

Can certainly do this but I often don't like when a climb ends short when it seems it can continue. I feel that if this climb turns out to be special enough, then bolt it and know that if you or anyone else wants to get on it, then two ropes or a 70m will be needed. If you're concerned that someone will climb it with a 60m, I wouldn't be. A climber should be efficient at bailing (coming up short on a rap and getting down safely). I also don't wear helmets when I ride a bike so take my advice with a grain of salt. 

Tapawingo Markey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75

I'd vote for getting a 70m. You'll use it at crags elsewhere some day. 

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 579
Joe Garibay wrote:

 If you're concerned that someone will climb it with a 60m, I wouldn't be. 

Lot's of unnecessary accidents from people who use a 60 meter rope on a 35 meter route.

If all the other routes at the crag are 30 or less, then having one that's longer is just asking for somebody to get hurt.

If the last 5 meters are incredible, ok, it might be worth the risk. but most stretched routes (at least around here) would be just as good a few meters shorter. 

FWIW 70 meter ropes seem to have become the norm around here.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 5
Ryan Van Dyke wrote:

I mean yeah... But for one route? When I just bought a 60m rope? Plus the lowering/rappelling question is still valid, even if I buy a 70m rope. Every single other climb at this crag is 60m, so what's someone with a 60m rope supposed to do when they find out their rope is too short?

Yep, either bolt the anchor further down the face so a 60 will work, but do it so that there is a margin of error of a few meters so that people don't drop 10 ft  because it turns out their rope is 3 meters short. Or, if you think there is a lot of development that will all be taller routes then bolt it for a 70 meter rope (35 meters tall) and spread the word that you need a 70 meter rope. We have lots of situations like that here in Utah. You get used to it and deal with it. Most people just buy a 70 meter rope to start now. 

Joe Garibay · · Ventura, Ca · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 96
Mark E Dixon wrote:

Lot's of unnecessary accidents from people who use a 60 meter rope on a 35 meter route.

If all the other routes at the crag are 30 or less, then having one that's longer is just asking for somebody to get hurt.

If the last 5 meters are incredible, ok, it might be worth the risk. but most stretched routes (at least around here) would be just as good a few meters shorter. 

FWIW 70 meter ropes seem to have become the norm around here.

I'm sure I came off a bit negatively with my comment and I don't wish harm to anyone. I know accidents happen because of complacency and assumption but this is climbing. Those that do should be capable. That being said, if I were to put up a 35+m climb in an area where 30m is the standard, I would do my best to make it known that it is unique. 

Max Hernandez · · Newton, MA · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

Another option would be to have 2 anchors. Iv seen a few climbs that have an extension requiring a 70m rope while the rest of the climb takes a 60.

Jayson Nissen · · Corvallis, OR · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 281

If you put in an anchor at 29 meters and an anchor at the top it should give anyone getting on the route without any prior knowledge heads up that it is different than all of the other routes and a way to get down easily. Plus you can work and clean the route off of the lower anchor without having to deal with using two ropes or a top belay.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535

Just put a second lower off anchor off to the side at the 20m mark or so. This is pretty standard fare at older sport cliffs that were developed before 70m and 80m lines became popular. 

Nolan Fulton · · Montgomery,AL · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 546

Find a good spot and put two bolts for anchors then two anchors up top. Would be good multi-pitch practice. Eliminates the need for you to buy a longer rope. (And anyone else that wants to climb it)

climberish · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 10

Is nobody wondering about that fact that the dude putting up routes at this crag doesn't have a 70m rope, and is even asking this question?

· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0

You know there is 1 really easy fix for this that alot of crags I have been to do. You bolt the anchors at 30m instead of at the very top. You could put a second anchor for people who have a 70m to go all the way up (another bolt between them if needed) but generally from the sound of your crag that would be pointless.

I know tons of routes that are like this and don't top out so just bolt it at 30m or even a little lower if there is a good looking finish spot. It will make you feel alot better than bolting the entire thing and someone dying because they didn't know it needed a 70m rope (highly unlikely since you are talking about only falling 10-15ft at most if you were lowering with a 60m and the rope went through the belay device)

Josh Janes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 8,910
climberish wrote:

Is nobody wondering about that fact that the dude putting up routes at this crag doesn't have a 70m rope, and is even asking this question?

And some of the responses are equally dumb. You put an anchor on a route where it logically stops regardless of length. That can be at the top, at a stance, at a clipping hold, at a point where the difficulty dramatically changes one way or the other, or at a point where the quality sharply declines... any number of good reasons. But not at an arbitrary distance like 30 or 35 meters.

Don’t cater to the lowest common denominator (whether that’s a climber who currently owns only a single 60m rope or a climber who is too careless to rappel/lower from an unknown climb safely). If it makes sense to do so you can add a second set of anchors but in this case there are very simple alternatives (like using a 70, using two ropes, or walking off).

Peter Lewis · · Bridgton, ME · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 165

I think the answer is right there in your description, where you say, "But we only have 60 meter ropes," (note the plural). Use two ropes. There are countless thousands of one-pitch routes where you need to use two ropes to toprope and rappel safely. I hope the route turns out to be stellar and worth every inch!

Andrew Blease · · Bartlett, NH · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 480

Lower one end to the ground and set up a knot block to rappel. You can then tie a cordlette, or anything really, onto the end of the pull strand to make up the difference so you can pull from the ground. Then you get the full length route and only have to buy 10m of 6mm for use as a pull cord instead of a whole 70m rope. 

· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0
Josh Janes wrote:

And some of the responses are equally dumb. You put an anchor on a route where it logically stops regardless of length. That can be at the top, at a stance, at a clipping hold, at a point where the difficulty dramatically changes one way or the other, or at a point where the quality sharply declines... any number of good reasons. But not at an arbitrary distance like 30 or 35 meters.

Don’t cater to the lowest common denominator (whether that’s a climber who currently owns only a single 60m rope or a climber who is too careless to rappel/lower from an unknown climb safely). If it makes sense to do so you can add a second set of anchors but in this case there are very simple alternatives (like using a 70, using two ropes, or walking off).

Not completely true, there are alot of reasons to stop a route before the end of the wall

  1. It gets really hard after the anchor (sometimes they put a a second anchor at the very top and have an extended version of the route say 5.11 to first anchor 5.13 to finish, all still single pitch)
  2. All the other routes at that crag stop at a certain height and instead of having 1 out of 30 climbs require a 70m they just stopped it (also one of our local crags has some walls that you can't even do with a 70m so they put the anchors for a 70m rope even though you technically could keep going but why make a multi pitch where noone comes for multipitch)
  3. Topping out the route makes it to hard to rappel / lower back down so they stopped it at the best place to return to the ground without walking a few miles
  4. Quality of the route isn't worth going on

Sure there are plenty of other reasons but these are common ones I can think of.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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