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Free Rope Solo Traverse


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

Without having to resort to a second rope, jugging, and lowering out shenanigans, how do the folks that free climb lead solo deal with rapping and cleaning traverse pitches? Down/side climb while lowering?  Tension traverse back down and over while keeping all gear/bolts clipped?  Does your method change if the pitch is 5.easy vs 5.mightfall?

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

Simple you clip into all the gear for the transverse as you are going down and than take it out as you reclimb the pitch.

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

I'm guessing you have to tension traverse your way back over and even climb the opposite way if it is a horizontal traversing pitch?  Same goes for one that involves down climbing while headed in the correct direction?

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

The rope will always be attached to the first anchor when you start the traverse pitch. When you hit the next anchor you basically start climbing back the other way (rappelling down a single line kinda) and clipping it as you go back into the gear since you can't just go straight down to the anchor.

If it is 100% horizontal than you basically have to climb the pitch 3 times. Normally traverse pitches go down diagonally so you don't have to fully climb on the way back down.

Similar to clipping back into draws if you are being lowered on an overhanging sport route and need to clip back into them so another can top rope without swinging far off the wall.

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

If it is 100% horizontal than you basically have to climb the pitch 3 times. Normally traverse pitches go down diagonally so you don't have to fully climb on the way back down.

Normally... but not always.


This pitch involves some down climbing right past the climber


For the "rappel", would you stay on the rope via grigri? traxion device pointing some direction?  Just a locker on a sling like a via ferrata?
ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

Yea because it doesn't matter what way you go whatever you are using to catch a fall would still catch it even as you climb back so you don't need to adjust it. You could fix the rope on the second anchor and reclimb it like a via ferrata back to the original anchor but than since the rope is fixed on the second anchor you couldn't top rope solo it like normal since you can't tie and pull the line.

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

Sounds like it will be tedious either way.  I don't understand how I couldn't TR (or would it be side rope?) solo back.  Once the anchor is undone, I will just have to pull slack as I go for the cleaning.  Obviously the easiest answer is to not climb this route solo, but what fun would that be?

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

To do a via ferrata you have to fix the rope on both anchors. You could still sorta top rope back using a single line with your grigri / traxion but the normal style of being tied into one side and having your grigri or traxion on the other side would not work since the rope would be fixed and you can't pull it to shorten the side you are tied into.

If I had to do it I would just set draws on the second anchor with lockers and climb back reclipping as I went and because you are still sorta leading back you should have enough tension on the rope to sorta do a via ferrata on the original line if you want. After cleaning the original anchor you can reclimb it back as you clean on a normal top rope solo setup.

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

You TR solo with a 2:1?  Lots of rope pulling there my friend.  I only TR solo on a single line, and don't pull rope at all.  With a grigri, you've obviously got to pull rope, but it's only 1:1 when on a single line.  

I guess I could also do a locker VF style, and a prussik, so I shouldn't slide around in either direction in the event of a fall on ONLY the the rappel portion of the pitch.  That way, I'm redundant, and not risking sliding on the couple sections with elevation change.

Jonathan Croom · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2015 · Points: 390

Depending on the terrain, I would probably do one of the following:

Easy climbing-- "down climb" on a grigri, follow on a trax. The grigri actually feeds pretty well like this, as long as you don't move too fast.

Short traverse-- link a pitch above the traverse, fix rope as high as possible. Then clean all gear on rappel. This may set you up for a bit of a swing on follow, but there are situations where this is all that is required.

Long traverse, difficult free climbing or aid climbing-- rap on grigri, trax goes on rope from lower anchor. Rap to first piece, pull in on trax, unclip and reclip above you. Can be pretty physical on overhanging terrain. Basically only option for fast aid with a single rope.

Totally horizontal, easy terrain-- via ferrata style. Double up the slings/biners if you're the guy with two PAS's installed on his harness for a day of sport climbing.

Totally horizontal, technical terrain-- grigri, both down and up.

I actually have climbed the route pictured above, but I was with a partner...I wonder what I'd do on it solo.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 14,716
Ryan Swanson wrote: Without having to resort to a second rope, jugging, and lowering out shenanigans, how do the folks that free climb lead solo deal with rapping and cleaning traverse pitches? 

Use a

Silent Partner

rope solo device.
Allows going in either direction on the rope with no hassle.

(also if get off-route, makes it easier to down-climb)
D. Scender · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2018 · Points: 0
kenr wrote:

Use a

Silent Partner

rope solo device.
Allows going in either direction on the rope with no hassle.

(also if get off-route, makes it easier to down-climb)

Perhaps this is a situation where the Wild Country Revo might be useful because it is also bi-directional. The wheel can spin both ways and the device does not lock until the speed approaches 4 meters per second.

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

Use a

Silent Partner

rope solo device.
Allows going in either direction on the rope with no hassle.

(also if get off-route, makes it easier to down-climb)

But you are saying “downclimb” the traverse, correct?

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 14,716
Down Climber wrote:

Wild Country Revo might be useful because it is also bi-directional. The wheel can spin both ways and the device does not lock until the speed approaches 4 meters per second.

Sounds like a similar concept.

Might be easier to find one nowadays.
kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 14,716
Ryan Swanson wrote:

you are saying “downclimb” the traverse, correct?

To me "down-climbing" is a second useful capability for a rope-solo device to offer.

I guess you could think of reversing a traverse as sort of like down-climbing. But it's not what I was thinking.

Sometimes for cleaning a pitch led on rope-solo, I have down-climbed (instead of rappelling) -- not because I was off-route, but just because I like to get lots of _practice_ down-climbing on real rock.
Another use for a bi-directional rope-solo device.

Ken
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
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