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Minimizing Wear to Fixed Anchors


Original Post
Derek Branstrom · · Littleton, CO · Joined Jun 2002 · Points: 45

Full disclosure, I don't develop routes (but am super thankful to those who do!) but I have had the occasion to help replace some anchors at Shelf road, Clear Creek Canyon, Vedauwoo. I do appreciate the costs involved and have donated at times as well. It seems the recent trend is to replace anchors previously requiring cleaning an anchor and/or install new routes with simplified (e.g. mussy hooks, ss biners, etc.) option for lowering/cleaning. I think this is awesome and will probably (has already?!) prevent many potential accidents. But...should we still encourage the climbing community to lower off their own hardware (e.g. 2 quick draws) perhaps after the first lead/lower? I looked at a couple popular 5.8 routes near Denver on MP and looked at the number of ticks on them (over 1000). That's just those who are recording - can only imagine the many hundreds/thousands of others as well. I suspect these get, on average, several lowers per day. That's a lot of wear. Now I know mussy hooks are FAT and will take a long time to wear and relatively easy to replace, but wondering if it's still prudent to encourage lowering off own gear when possible. Or, is that "old school" and new thought is just use the hardwear that's made for this? This kind of hearkens back to earlier days when we'd debate lowering vs. rappelling. Just curious what the climbing community would say.

bkozak · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 85

Lower and/or toprope through your own gear until the last person in the group is finished with the climb and then they lower on the fixed anchor.  Crag etiquette 101.

FosterK · · Edmonton, AB · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 60

Advocates for lowering over rappelling are not suggesting top roping a route through fixed gear, or even lowering on fixed gear over multiple attempts - only lowering when cleaning a route (i.e. leaving the route). Where did you get the idea that you would lower - on fixed gear - every time?

Noah R · · VT · Joined Nov 2018 · Points: 0
bkozak wrote: Lower and/or toprope through your own gear until the last person in the group is finished with the climb and then they lower on the fixed anchor.  Crag etiquette 101.

/thread

Peter Thomas · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 36
Derek Branstrom wrote: Full disclosure, I don't develop routes (but am super thankful to those who do!) but I have had the occasion to help replace some anchors at Shelf road, Clear Creek Canyon, Vedauwoo. I do appreciate the costs involved and have donated at times as well. It seems the recent trend is to replace anchors previously requiring cleaning an anchor and/or install new routes with simplified (e.g. mussy hooks, ss biners, etc.) option for lowering/cleaning. I think this is awesome and will probably (has already?!) prevent many potential accidents. But...should we still encourage the climbing community to lower off their own hardware (e.g. 2 quick draws) perhaps after the first lead/lower? I looked at a couple popular 5.8 routes near Denver on MP and looked at the number of ticks on them (over 1000). That's just those who are recording - can only imagine the many hundreds/thousands of others as well. I suspect these get, on average, several lowers per day. That's a lot of wear. Now I know mussy hooks are FAT and will take a long time to wear and relatively easy to replace, but wondering if it's still prudent to encourage lowering off own gear when possible. Or, is that "old school" and new thought is just use the hardwear that's made for this? This kind of hearkens back to earlier days when we'd debate lowering vs. rappelling. Just curious what the climbing community would say.

I think lowering off mussy's is always fine. I'd prefer people TR through their own gear, but if they'll be safer just using the mussy's rather than setting their gear, I'd rather they be safe. I've placed a bunch of these in the last few months, and they seem to be becoming standard in areas popular with new climbers. With that, I think there needs to be an understanding that new climbers don't know much yet, and the simplest solution is often the safest (in this case, just clipping the hooks). 

The biggest ethic should be supporting the local climbing communities, Access Fund and ASCA that fund anchor replacement. 
Timothy Fisher · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

Maybe a good addition to this conversation is the importance of keeping the rope clean as possible.

Derek Branstrom · · Littleton, CO · Joined Jun 2002 · Points: 45
FosterK wrote: Advocates for lowering over rappelling are not suggesting top roping a route through fixed gear, or even lowering on fixed gear over multiple attempts - only lowering when cleaning a route (i.e. leaving the route). Where did you get the idea that you would lower - on fixed gear - every time?

It happens all the time. Especially on harder (i.e. 12 and up) routes. I personally try to minimize lowering on fixed gear. Most sport climbers have advocated for lowering over rappelling for years (ever tried cleaning an overhanging route on rappel?!). I would say it's always been the culture to TR on personal gear. But of course I've seen people TR on fixed gear all the time (and politely "educate" them as to the drawbacks). 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Fixed Hardware: Bolts & Anchors
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