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Top rope solo gear, set up and tweaks


Original Post
Chalkischeap Schustyk · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 0

I am taking up top rope solo climbing and was looking for opinions to dial in my systems.  I have been out one day of soloing last year before the snow fell and I have made some tweaks since then.  First time out I used a micro ascender on one rope as primary and a ascension on a second rope as a secondary clipped on belay loop under primary device.  It worked well and with a few nalgene bottles at the bottom it pulled rope nicely and there was very minimal drop when I did a few test hangs.


Since then I have made a few changes to the setup and might make a few more if it can make setup and transitions smoother.  So far I have extended my micro ascender by tying a loop of cordalette through the clip in point so it can be closer to chest height and have room for a elastic cord hitched through the clip in point so I can clip it to the chest strap of a small backpack.  This can raise the primary to have more clearance from the secondary and maintain its upward orientation so I will drop less when falling it taking.  I do not like the idea of the ascension because of the teeth that could damage the rope.  I got a shunt for Christmas and was thinking of using that for the secondary device or should at least one device have teeth?  What devices does everyone like and why?  Any small tweaks do you do to make things run smoother?


In my area the crag has bomber glue ins at the top of the cliff and are sometimes located far from each other and far from the edge.  I could build a proper equalized anchor but getting the master point over the edge and in the right spot can be a pain.  Since you need two independant lines, for simplicity I was thinking of clove hitching my climbing rope to two bolts and then durring the rappel slide on edge protectors onto the rope anywhere it may run on a edge.  This may only work on certain climbs where bolt location is perfect though.  Does this sound like a ok method for the intended purpose?  


Some areas I could just use a very forgiving quad to have it equalized and over the edge.  I would like to have quick and simple anchor options so ideally I could hike in with two rope, anchors and solo gear.  Drop two lines rap down, do a few runs on each then maybe move them and do another two climbs.  I am trying to be able to get in a bunch of climbs between when little man goes down and when the crag closes.  


And yes I'm gonna die...

Sam Sala · · Denver · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 40

I use this exact setup on one side (non-locker to two shoulder length slings X'ed over my shoulders for chest attachment) and rig a Tibloc on the other strand for backup. I carry a Grigri with me and single strand rap once I'm topped out. I'm sure there are more efficient ways out there, but this has worked well so far...I like that it allows me to climb a bit harder and not have to futz with taking slack out of a Grigri if I'm at an awkward stance.


As for the teeth damaging the rope...I decided that the chance of the Microscender failing and falling onto the Tibloc was slim enough to warrant using it...should it come to that, I'd rather a core shot cord than core shot body.

Mike Morin · · Glen, NH · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 1,261

Detailed breakdown from a technical gear company. I use the exact set-up Petzl suggests, except I use a Rope Man 2 instead of a Petzl Ascension. Works great, feeds wonderfully. 


https://www.petzl.com/US/en/Sport/Appendix-3--Detail-of-installation-on-one-rope-with-two-ascenders

Ryan Swanson · · Pepedidnothingwrong, freejg · Joined Jan 2018 · Points: 50

Does anyone girth hitch the extended microscender to your tie in points and omit the biner completely? Seems like another ok way to die to me without having to worry about crossloading.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,795

More often than not, you don't NEED to have your rope(s)' powerpoint over the edge, as you would if you were conventional TR-ing. Two reasons for this: minor reason - the rope isn't moving, so chafing and abrasion is minimized. Pad the edge as needed. Major reason - if you top out and are climbing ABOVE your powerpoint, you're exposed to a fall factor that's through the proverbial roof. Like a 3-5 ft fall on one inch of dynamic rope.

Brad Johnson · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

Any advice on a non toothed lock open device?  I'm currently using a ropeman 1 and a camp lift.  It works fine, but I would like the ability to open the devices at the top lower down with a grigri and then close the devices to quickly transition for laps.  


I'm going to pick up a CT Roll n Lock to replace the Ropeman but wasn't sure on the other device, should i just use a micro traxion?

Ben Vining · · Philadelphia · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 35

I use a chest harness in addition to a regular harness. I use a Microcender on the chest harness and a Microtraxion on the wsist harness. 

When I first used this technique I found that when I fell the chest harness would ride up around my face so now I use a QuickDraw to hold the chest and waist harnesses tight together. It works really well.

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 124
Gunkiemike wrote:

More often than not, you don't NEED to have your rope(s)' powerpoint over the edge, as you would if you were conventional TR-ing. Two reasons for this: minor reason - the rope isn't moving, so chafing and abrasion is minimized. Pad the edge as needed. Major reason - if you top out and are climbing ABOVE your powerpoint, you're exposed to a fall factor that's through the proverbial roof. Like a 3-5 ft fall on one inch of dynamic rope.

This; I'd go so far as to say having your power point over the edge is a bad idea in most cases.

Another minor reason to have your power point above the edge is it makes rappelling down much easier. In Peterskill where I've been TR soloing a lot lately, it's always possible to walk from the top to the bottom, but in some places it's not, and even at Peterskill it's often faster to rap than to walk around.

ubu · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 0
Gunkiemike wrote:

More often than not, you don't NEED to have your rope(s)' powerpoint over the edge, as you would if you were conventional TR-ing. Two reasons for this: minor reason - the rope isn't moving, so chafing and abrasion is minimized. Pad the edge as needed. Major reason - if you top out and are climbing ABOVE your powerpoint, you're exposed to a fall factor that's through the proverbial roof. Like a 3-5 ft fall on one inch of dynamic rope.

Exactly.  This is a great point that is not emphasized enough when people talk about TR soloing.  

In addition to David's point above about making it easier to rappel, setting the powerpoint above the edge also lets you squeeze out every drop of a route without worrying about your devices cinching up against the powerpoint and becoming hard to release.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95
Brad Johnson wrote:

I'm going to pick up a CT Roll n Lock to replace the Ropeman but wasn't sure on the other device, should i just use a micro traxion?

The micro trax and the roll n lock are both great devices. Either one would be a good choice. Overall I like the micro trax a bit more, but the roll n lock is much less expensive.

My current setup uses one of each. It is definitely the smoothest feeding setup I’ve used. And it is very confidence inspiring in terms of catching reliably. I use the micro trax on top and the roll n lock below as backup, but the other way around would be fine also. 

I do not use a chest harness. The micro is clipped directly to my belay loop with a locker, and the backup trails below on an 8” locker draw. So when I fall there is a 3 inch drop onto the device. This doesn’t bother me and causes no rope damage; the forces are trivial. But if it bothered you a chest harness would fix that problem. I just prefer climbing without a chrst harness.

Anyway, just one more potential setup example.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95
Brad Johnson wrote:

Any advice on a non toothed lock open device?  I'm currently using a ropeman 1 and a camp lift.  It works fine, but I would like the ability to open the devices at the top lower down with a grigri and then close the devices to quickly transition for laps.  

A setup I used to use for this application was a Vergo on top as the primary device, and a micro trax trailing below as backup. It was amazing for the transition from climbing to rapping. I’d just lock open the canon the microtrax, and the rap down with the Vergo. I know that this is an off-label application of the Vergo, but it always worked great and with the microtrax below as backup I was totally my confident in the system. The microtrax is always confidence inspiring.

The main downside was that the Vergo does not feed quite as smoothly, so weighting the rope end was neccesary. A full 1 liter Nalgene bottle was sufficient. But you could definitely still feel some drag while climbing.

But then the Vergo got recalled and I sent it back for a refund. The Cinch would be a viable replacement.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 487
Gunkiemike wrote:

More often than not, you don't NEED to have your rope(s)' powerpoint over the edge, as you would if you were conventional TR-ing. Two reasons for this: minor reason - the rope isn't moving, so chafing and abrasion is minimized. Pad the edge as needed. Major reason - if you top out and are climbing ABOVE your powerpoint, you're exposed to a fall factor that's through the proverbial roof. Like a 3-5 ft fall on one inch of dynamic rope.

Another option is to put a rebelay over the edge to prevent any loading over an edge until you go past the rebelay. Just place a piece over the edge and clove the rope to it with some slack going up to the main anchor.

stolo · · Shelby, NC · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 191
Brad Johnson · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0
JCM wrote:

A setup I used to use for this application was a Vergo on top as the primary device, and a micro trax trailing below as backup. It was amazing for the transition from climbing to rapping. I’d just lock open the canon the microtrax, and the rap down with the Vergo. I know that this is an off-label application of the Vergo, but it always worked great and with the microtrax below as backup I was totally my confident in the system. The microtrax is always confidence inspiring.

The main downside was that the Vergo does not feed quite as smoothly, so weighting the rope end was neccesary. A full 1 liter Nalgene bottle was sufficient. But you could definitely still feel some drag while climbing.

But then the Vergo got recalled and I sent it back for a refund. The Cinch would be a viable replacement.

How well did the Vergo feed?  That would be a nice back up device if it actually feeds automatically and somewhat smoothly.  

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 124
Chalkischeap Schustyk wrote:

In my area the crag has bomber glue ins at the top of the cliff and are sometimes located far from each other and far from the edge.  I could build a proper equalized anchor but getting the master point over the edge and in the right spot can be a pain.  Since you need two independant lines, for simplicity I was thinking of clove hitching my climbing rope to two bolts and then durring the rappel slide on edge protectors onto the rope anywhere it may run on a edge.  This may only work on certain climbs where bolt location is perfect though.  Does this sound like a ok method for the intended purpose?  

I think that would work. If the bolts are far apart, you can bring the strands together with a stone hitch where you would have your master point in a normal equalized anchor--you're basically building your anchor out of a fixed line. This is fairly similar to the system I use (I don't use the clove hitches because the anchors are different here).

Christopher Smith · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0
stolo wrote:

What do you have going around your neck with that setup?  Is it a bungee or is it just something along the lines of paracord?

stolo · · Shelby, NC · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 191
Christopher Smith wrote:

What do you have going around your neck with that setup?  Is it a bungee or is it just something along the lines of paracord?

It is a bungee cord, something thicker would be more comfortable around neck when wearing a t-shirt, but the thicker cords I found did not have enough stretch to give enough when hanging or falling on rope. A paracord or something without stretch would dig into neck / pull your head towards wall when on rope, ouch!

Chalkischeap Schustyk · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 0

One thing I forgot.  With my current setup I have both devices clipped into my belay loop.  Should I be clipping in my primary into my tie in points and clipping my secondary into my belay loop.  I know that if your primary fails then your secondary will hit your primary biner if they are both clipped into belay loop.  I guess I will have to make a longer extension loop for my micro ascender.  Now do I use a oval locker or girth hitch the tie in points like Ryan Swanson said?

Brad Johnson · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

I belay loop one, and girth hitch the other with a 60cm

Chalkischeap Schustyk · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 0
David Kerkeslager wrote:

I think that would work. If the bolts are far apart, you can bring the strands together with a stone hitch where you would have your master point in a normal equalized anchor--you're basically building your anchor out of a fixed line. This is fairly similar to the system I use (I don't use the clove hitches because the anchors are different here).

Thanks for reminding me about the stone hitch.  Saw it before and never tied it then forgot about it.  It is great for a top anchor setup pre-rigged through rappel rings.  Last person soloing goes in direct, hook up rappel, release the stone and your down...

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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