Mountain Project Logo

Top Rope set up standard practices


Original Post
Rock Climber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0

Hi guys, I've recently been to a few places, where there's a mix of lead, trad, and top-rope. Often, I find that I can get to the lead anchors by hiking to the top, rapping off a tree to the lead anchors, anchoring myself to the lead anchors, pulling the rope off the tree, set up a top-rope on the lead climb, then rappeling to the ground. Then, my friends and I can top rope happily (some are not comfortable with lead belaying yet)

Here is a picture of what I mean:

Is this ok/normal?

I always tie knots at the ends of the rope, use a prusik, and carry an extra prusik in case I need to ascend the rope (say, from missing the anchor)
Kedron Silsbee · · Munich · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 0

Sounds very OK/normal to me, assuming you're setting an anchor on the tree and retrieving it later, rather than pulling the rope directly over the tree.  Rappelling directly off of a tree isn't dangerous, but it's discouraged in areas that get a significant amount of use since the tree's bark is damaged when you pull the rope.  
   At the risk of being captain obvious, a lot of cliffs have a significant amount of loose rocks on top, particularly if there isn't much traffic on top since most people lead up to the anchors...you should make sure these don't come down on you or others while you're rappelling and pulling the rope.

Rock Climber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0

Thanks!

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 16,253

Sounds safe enough; just remember that it is the custom in most places (or at least should be !) is that on "lead" climbs like you describe, you and your friends should sort of "give way" if someone comes along and wants to lead the climb. With this in mind, your TR set-up should be such that the people leading can still easily and safely access the rings/quick links (or whatever) of the anchor to rap off themselves (or just offer your rope for them to rap, or lower-off).  

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Robert Hall wrote: Sounds safe enough; just remember that it is the custom in most places (or at least should be !) is that on "lead" climbs like you describe, you and your friends should sort of "give way" if someone comes along and wants to lead the climb. With this in mind, your TR set-up should be such that the people leading can still easily and safely access the rings/quick links (or whatever) of the anchor to rap off themselves (or just offer your rope for them to rap, or lower-off).  

I disagree. If you are there first, you get to climb it first. Doesn't matter if you are toproping or leading - first come, first served!

The later-arriving party can climb something else. Or wait. You don't pull your rope just because someone wants to lead it (unless you're finished climbing it).
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Rock Climber wrote: Hi guys, I've recently been to a few places, where there's a mix of lead, trad, and top-rope. Often, I find that I can get to the lead anchors by hiking to the top, rapping off a tree to the lead anchors, anchoring myself to the lead anchors, pulling the rope off the tree, set up a top-rope on the lead climb, then rappeling to the ground. Then, my friends and I can top rope happily (some are not comfortable with lead belaying yet)

Is this ok/normal?

Many sport routes are established in exactly this manner, whether it's trees, bolts, trad gear, it's an anchor to get to the climbing anchor.

hunter konchan · · Colorado · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 20

Be sure to yell, "ROPE" when you throw it, or "ROCK" if you dont want to make friends. And tie off the rope at the intermediate anchors so you don't drop it.

Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,033

Your setup looks normal/safe.

But you better knot the ends of your rope. Looks like your ends don’t quite reach the ground. :)

Harold Sutton · · Syracuse NY · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 1
Robert Hall wrote: Sounds safe enough; just remember that it is the custom in most places (or at least should be !) is that on "lead" climbs like you describe, you and your friends should sort of "give way" if someone comes along and wants to lead the climb. With this in mind, your TR set-up should be such that the people leading can still easily and safely access the rings/quick links (or whatever) of the anchor to rap off themselves (or just offer your rope for them to rap, or lower-off).  

I second what Robert Says...  If you are in fact Top Roping on the "Lead Rings" indicating that it is a climb that is usually Lead by people in the area, you really should pull your rope when someone shows up with the intent to lead that route.  Not saying right away, but don't hog the route.  Don't get me wrong, I will usually lead stuff and then TR my friends on it all the time, but if someone shows up with their rack, i verify they want the climb and then plan to move off it so they can get on it.  A better option may to be hit the spots that are more Top Rope friendly, but every cliff has its Quirks. 

Roots · · Redmond. OR · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 20

Fist come first serve but be nice about it....

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,852
Kedron Silsbee wrote:a lot of cliffs have a significant amount of loose rocks on top, particularly if there isn't much traffic on top since most people lead up to the anchors...you should make sure these don't come down on you or others while you're rappelling and pulling the rope.

Good point.

Which is why the organizers of some newer Sport crags _forbid_ scrambling up around the side to set up a TR from above.

And pulling the rappel rope is a great way to bring down a loose rock, even if otherwise you've been very careful. If there's the slightest question, better to not pull it, instead recover your facultative rope by scrambling around the side afterward.

Might be good to check policy at each particular cliff. Or if notice significant loose rock, give up and go somewhere else.

Ken
Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 16,253

Clarification:  I NEVER said you HAD to pull your rope...you could just move it to the side, that is sort of implied when I  said "your TR set-up should be such that the people leading can still easily and safely access the rings/quick links (or whatever) of the anchor" .  

 And I NEVER said that if you had "gotten there first", and had just finished the work of setting up your rope you had to immediately give way to someone who wanted to lead it. BUT, if you and your fiends been running laps on the climb, it's only common decency to let someone else on it.

 I have seen top ropes set on popular lead climbs for hours, even with the climbers sitting eating lunch, and telling people "We're on that climb, you can't lead it!"   (Believe it or not, it was a guided party! and the climb in question was the first pitch of one of the most popular climbs at the Gunks )  

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 502

Soloists have the right of way over lead climbers who have the right of way over top ropers. It's just common courtesy 

Carl Schneider · · Adelaide, South Australia · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

All forms of climbing are valid. If you get there first and you want to top rope it, good on ya, you don't need to feel your method of climbing is any less valid and that you need to give way to any other method of climbing, be it sports, trad or soloing.  In my MOST humble opinion   

There's one route near me I do laps and laps and laps of on top rope to work endurance.  At times I have to get up very early to get there first.  If someone beats me to it., next weekend I'm there even earlier...

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,852
eli poss wrote: Soloists have the right of way over lead climbers who have the right of way over top ropers.
It gets more complicated than that.
What about a party who first led the route and is now top-roping it?

Or first soloed it and is now top-roping it?

Seems simpler to just go with First Come First Served.
Dylan B. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 521
eli poss wrote: Soloists have the right of way over lead climbers who have the right of way over top ropers. It's just common courtesy 

This is true of climbers who encounter one another while already climbing, with some exceptions. But it doesn’t apply to cragging where one party is on the wall, and another is still on the ground. 

In my view, the best etiquette is first come, first serve, but everyone gets one burn. After each person in your party has a good run at the pitch, the other team gets a turn. 
Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 16,253

Yup Dylan...that's sort of exactly what I said (Dylan B said "In my view, the best etiquette is first come, first serve, but everyone gets one burn. After each person in your party has a good run at the pitch, the other team gets a turn." )
         

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Robert Hall wrote: Yup Dylan...that's sort of exactly what I said (Dylan B said "In my view, the best etiquette is first come, first serve, but everyone gets one burn. After each person in your party has a good run at the pitch, the other team gets a turn." )
         

Agree. Don't monopolize the routes or crag,. The worst is people leaving ropes hanging on a route, not climbing on it, thinking it allows them to "reserve" the route and trying to keep others off. That's rude.

Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
Rock Climber wrote: Hi guys, I've recently been to a few places, where there's a mix of lead, trad, and top-rope. Often, I find that I can get to the lead anchors by hiking to the top, rapping off a tree to the lead anchors, anchoring myself to the lead anchors, pulling the rope off the tree, set up a top-rope on the lead climb, then rappeling to the ground. Then, my friends and I can top rope happily (some are not comfortable with lead belaying yet)

Here is a picture of what I mean:

Is this ok/normal?

I always tie knots at the ends of the rope, use a prusik, and carry an extra prusik in case I need to ascend the rope (say, from missing the anchor)

As long as you not showering people below with rocks and dirt it looks OK.  There was probably a reason that the anchors are below the top of the cliff...it is usually due to loose rock and debris.

Ska Ggs · · NorthEast Stuck · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 50

perhaps you can debate the idea of TR'ing and leaving up ropes here.... the OP's point was whether or not its safe, Id say yes, keeping those things ppl had mentioned in mind ...

ethics of leaving up ropes when leaders come by is a whole new idea ...
https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/115412253/groups-take-over

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
Post a Reply to "Top Rope set up standard practices"

Log In to Reply