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downclimbing a TR solo route


Original Post
l rs · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 420

I have super simple TR solo setup, ropeman on a fixed line, and am trying to figure out a safe and cost effective way to downclimb the routes I currently TR solo. Any ideas that will allow me to still effectively be on TR, or to minimize the distance I fall if a hold breaks or I slip, as I climb down?

Andrew Vinzant · · Kansas City, MO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 517

An auto block coming off your belay loop may do the trick; you would probably have to help it along a bit.

l rs · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 420
Andrew Vinzant wrote:

An auto block coming off your belay loop may do the trick; you would probably have to help it along a bit.

That was my idea originally- using my grigri...but then I have alot of slack out and/or have to pull out rope often.

Tim Meehan · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 285

Not an endorsement, but you could look into Kong Back-Up or CAMP Goblin fall arresters. See https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/114066332/kong-back-up-for-use-in-top-rope-soloing

stolo · · Shelby, NC · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 191

You need one / two of the rope access type devices that allow you to move up and down the rope, but will still arrest a real fall. Check out the Kong Back-Up (good deal on Trek-inn right now) or the Climbing Technology Easy Move. Petzl makes a device, ASAP, but I believe you must use a shock lanyard with this device, and it is $$$. 


Someone on MP was trying to sell one of the Kong devices yesterday, price did seem high though and that is when I found the Trek-inn price, https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/114071012/fs-kong-back-up-new-unused

stolo · · Shelby, NC · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 191
Tim Meehan wrote:

Not an endorsement, but you could look into Kong Back-Up or CAMP Goblin fall arresters. See https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/114066332/kong-back-up-for-use-in-top-rope-soloing

aaand Tim beat me to it

Nathan Hui · · San Diego, CA · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0

Use lead solo techniques, since a human belayer would use similar belay techniques.

l rs · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 420

Thank you so much...now for the follow up question, so I get to the top of my line, I put myself on the Kong and then I begin to downclimb. 


IF I then weight that line, I would have to unweight/anchor myself before being able to proceed back down, correct?


Is there a way to rig this so that I don't have an intermediate anchor situation?  Right now I go up, anchor in at the top and rap down...I never need to unweight the system until the top where I basically clip a pre-established anchor. 



stolo · · Shelby, NC · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 191

You wouldn't need an intermediate anchor, just grab back hold of the wall and take the weight off the device, then continue down climbing. Or put an ascender on the rope above the device and weight it. If I had those devices I would use for up and down climbing! No need to ever make changes unless maybe for rappel. Not sure, not familiar with the controls and if can lock open (but if not rappelling fast enough you could probably just leave them on??). 

l rs · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 420
stolo wrote:

You wouldn't need an intermediate anchor, just grab back hold of the wall and take the weight off the device, then continue down climbing. Or put an ascender on the rope above the device and weight it. If I had those devices I would use for up and down climbing! No need to ever make changes unless maybe for rappel. Not sure, not familiar with the controls and if can lock open (but if not rappelling fast enough you could probably just leave them on??). 

THANKS!!! I'm gonna get a CAMP goblin and see how it goes...a bit less expensive than the Kong. 

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 484

Keep in mind you can also use the rope access device as a primary or secondary device for going up so that you don't have to switch devices at the top. Also keep in mind that most of the rope access devices are designed for 10+mm ropes.

greggrylls · · Salt Lake City · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 167
Leslie McG wrote:

THANKS!!! I'm gonna get a CAMP goblin and see how it goes...a bit less expensive than the Kong. 

If there is a way to demo before, you should do it.  I have tried the goblin and as far as regular catching etc. it worked like a champ.  I could not get the up down mode to work properly.  Unless oriented perfectly it wouldn’t move down while climbing.  I had a rudimentary bungie chest harness to hold it up so mileage may vary.  I ended up going with the camp lift because it’s much cheaper and I didn’t want a device that fiddly for downclimbing.


EDIT: Lift doesn’tallow downclimbing simple cam based device I didn’t make that clear






CTB · · Cave Creek, AZ · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 185

I got a kong back up i would sell for $75 shipped. Its barley used. It would deffinetly work for down climbing.

Drew Nevius · · Oklahoma · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 1,532

I would think any of those teeth-less cam action rope grab devices might work, but I haven’t used any personally. I have used a cable rope grab which is the same idea and it allowed downward travel

Just Solo · · Colorado Springs · Joined Nov 2003 · Points: 80

Are you trying to downclimb for the experience or as a way simply to get down after climbing? If the latter, take some appropriate gear and simply set up a quick anchor, tie in, then setup up a rappel and do your thing. I use a Yates Rocker, I don’t think they are still avail. They are similar to the other camming devices shown previously. It unlocks easily but it would be cumbersome at best to try to downclimb with any of these devices. A super simply way to do it is to pull up a few feet of rope, tie an overhand loop and clip in, climb down to the end of the section, rinse and repeat. You would need to be the judge as to how long to make each section based on the difficulty and fall risk.

USBRIT Ross · · Keswick Cumbria.UK · Joined Apr 2001 · Points: 21,621

A little bit of history regarding downclimbing. At one time in the UK pre about 1940, sometimes later, first Descents of climbs were recorded. The first man down placed the gear which at that time was only slings on spikes of rock to protect the down climbing leader.

l rs · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 420
Just Solo wrote:

Are you trying to downclimb for the experience or as a way simply to get down after climbing? If the latter, take some appropriate gear and simply set up a quick anchor, tie in, then setup up a rappel and do your thing. I use a Yates Rocker, I don’t think they are still avail. They are similar to the other camming devices shown previously. It unlocks easily but it would be cumbersome at best to try to downclimb with any of these devices. A super simply way to do it is to pull up a few feet of rope, tie an overhand loop and clip in, climb down to the end of the section, rinse and repeat. You would need to be the judge as to how long to make each section based on the difficulty and fall risk.

Neither- I am just trying to get more mileage in and work different body parts/movement techniques than when I go up.

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

i think that you will find trying to downclimb while TR soloing is just a total hassle.  you will be constantly adjusting mid-move, etc.  i don't think this is going to help with downclimbing technique at all - i would actually say if anything it would reinforce poor technique.  you will also get a LOT more mileage if you just zip back down to the bottom and re-climb the route, or get started on another one.  it's one of those things that sounds good in theory, but i don't think it will pan out.

Stephen Felker · · Boulder, CO · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 495

Silent partner (or maybe a revo).  However, like slim, I wouldn't bother .

USBRIT Ross · · Keswick Cumbria.UK · Joined Apr 2001 · Points: 21,621

For the few who put up first ascents on sight ground up, it is an essential skill

Just Solo · · Colorado Springs · Joined Nov 2003 · Points: 80

The best bet for that type of training is find some longer bouldering routes and do up and down traverses. As mentioned, dealing with a self belay while down climbing with any sort camming device would pretty much require you to move it with almost every move. Definitely keep it conservative either way.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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