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Specific Question: Top Belaying on Single Pitch (Top Out)


Original Post
Tal Swicegood · · Russellville, AR · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 35

Is there a safe way to set up a top belay on a single pitch where you can top out? To further clarify: I want to top out, then belay my partner up to where I am at above the final anchors. There are no trees or large rocks at the top.

ViperScale . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

Yes there are tons of ways but hard to tell you because every top will be different. If it is completely flat at the top, no trees, no cracks to put gear in, no anchors where you can walk off safely, no big rocks to sling, no area to pull a car up to tie into, or anything else... then your screwed.

Cole Dunbar · · NY · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

It would be dumb, but you could put the climber into the anchor with a grigri, then do a redirect with the break strand and a piece below the anchor. 

If you didn't get destroyed by rope drag that could achieve the goal of belaying someone while you are personally above the anchor/not into the system. 

It would be problematic because you wouldn't be able to lower without down climbing and would be putting 100% faith into the grigri auto locking mechanism without being able to see/reach the grigri. 

What's the situation where that would be better than you being at the anchor?

Tal Swicegood · · Russellville, AR · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 35

Viper, this is the top: https://cdn-files.apstatic.com/climb/107950466_medium_1494252852.jpg (pillar behind slackliner)


Cole, I was just curious. I'm not super bent on it, I was just thinking it'd be nice for both of us to top out.

Chase Giltner · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

There must be bolts at the top or at least gear placements if they are anchoring a highline at the top. 

ViperScale . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

Tal Swicegood wrote:

Viper, this is the top: https://cdn-files.apstatic.com/climb/107950466_medium_1494252852.jpg (pillar behind slackliner)


Cole, I was just curious. I'm not super bent on it, I was just thinking it'd be nice for both of us to top out.

Considering they are slacklining across the top I will 100% guarantee there is somewhere you could build an anchor and belay someone up. You may need long slings to get from the anchor to the edge so you aren't creating massive rope drag but if someone is walking across it you can build an anchor on it.

Looks like alot of really big chicken heads you could build an anchor off for it (maybe what he was doing for the slackline).

Bryce Adamson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 656

Looks like there are bolts, so I'm confused. Are you asking how to build an anchor, or how to belay someone from up top off of said anchor?

Whatever you're asking, please don't do what Cole suggests. As he says, it would be dumb.

Kiri Namtvedt · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 30

Yes, there are safe ways to do that.  There are many areas where you can top out on a climb and belay from the top.

Climb over the edge and top out.  Set an anchor (or use existing anchor, if there is one).  Clip your belay device in to the anchor.  Grigri, or ATC in guide mode?  Great.  Clip rope into belay device, yell "On belay" and go to town.

physnchips · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0

You've got bolts on the ground near the ledge. Assuming the climb you want to do is next to the bolts: 

The easiest thing to do is use make an anchor that goes over the ledge just a bit and use an atc guide or gri gri to belay off anchor while you sit down and are personally tethered to a bolt. As loops of brake-side slack gradually form just collect them at the top. If there's a decent overhang that could take your climber off the wall, you'll want to know how to lower properly with the aforementioned devices.

The slightly more annoying thing is to belay off your harness, and I think no matter how you do this (redirect or direct) you'll be hanging instead of sitting. Edit: If your partner is lighter and you don't think they'll fall you can also belay off harness while sitting and put yourself at the anchor master point. Safety-wise, it's not as ideal as doing a re-directed hanging belay. What kind of condition are those bolts in? Slack lines can put a hell of a force on anchor points.

You didn't really give your experience level, so at the moment my reply is purposely a bit vague in case you're able to fill in the details yourself.

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

Depending on where exactly the anchors are, I probably wouldn’t belay directly off of them in Guide mode.  For this situation, belaying off of the harness is probably a better idea, as the anchors look like they are on the ground and you would want to sit at the edge.  Go direct to the anchor (or bolts) and make sure this connection is tight when you position yourself at the edge.  You’ll rig your device as you would normally for a top rope belay, but since the rope will be coming from below, the device will basically be upside down and you will pull UP to brake rather than down.  I highly recommend you try this somewhere safe first and/or get professional instruction before doing this where you are describing.

Eric Chabot · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 35

Stance belay off harness. YGD

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310

Eric Chabot wrote:

Stance belay off harness. YGD

holly cow, Erics right.   

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,490

Tal Swicegood wrote:

 I want to top out, then belay my partner up to where I am at above the final anchors.

Why?

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

Kyle Tarry wrote:

Why wouldn't you just rig it in guide mode at the masterpoint, clove in with enough rope to sit on the edge, and then belay, in guide mode, from the edge?  There is no reason that the belay device needs to be at the edge with you.

Hey Kyle,

That can definitely work and I’ve done it if the master point is a bit higher (e.g: off a tree), but personally find it more awkward when the anchor and device are on the ground, especially if it’s further away.  You also have the issue of keeping the rope from running over the lip and potentially damaging it, which is not a concern from your harness.  That said, if Guide mode is viable I’d agree that it’s a better option, but often it’s falsely presented as the only option.

Bryce Adamson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 656

Are you looking for how to build this kind of set up?

http://blog.alpineinstitute.com/2017/02/institutional-anchors-backside-system.html

Tal Swicegood · · Russellville, AR · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 35

Jake Jones wrote:

Why?

Why not? Topping out with my friend on that pillar would be awesome

Tal Swicegood · · Russellville, AR · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 35

Thanks for the replies everyone, learning a lot and hopefully I can safely apply some of this

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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