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Dec 18, 2015
I started climbing this year and have done a couple dozen sport routes. I have always lowered from the the rap rings/niners/cold shut hooks when cleaning the route or cleaning the top rope setup. My question is regarding rapping down vrs lowering. There have been discussions in rappel vs lower which I have read extensively but I gues what I don't understand is if you rap vrs lower don't you still have to use the same rings? I am missing something in this regard? Also, in a climb with open hooks anchors, no locking mechanism whatsoever, how much should I be shitting myself lowering from them?

Danka
Adam Robb
Joined Aug 25, 2015
6 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: God of Thunder
Adam,

Its perfectly safe to rappel as well as lower from anchors, rings whatever. However, when you lower through the anchor your causing unnecessary wear & tear on the hardware itself, decreasing the life span of the anchors for other climbers. So, you should learn how to clean and rappel an anchor, and do it every time you're done on a sport route.
wsperry
From San Jose/Lafayette
Joined Aug 20, 2014
49 points
Dec 18, 2015
Adam Robb wrote:
I started climbing this year and have done a couple dozen sport routes. I have always lowered from the the rap rings/niners/cold shut hooks when cleaning the route or cleaning the top rope setup. My question is regarding rapping down vrs lowering. There have been discussions in rappel vs lower which I have read extensively but I gues what I don't understand is if you rap vrs lower don't you still have to use the same rings? I am missing something in this regard? Also, in a climb with open hooks anchors, no locking mechanism whatsoever, how much should I be shitting myself lowering from them? Danka


Lowering off the fixed gear causes accelerated wear on the fixed gear (yes, fast enough to be of significant concern). Rapping does not have the same effect because the loaded rope does not slide through (when you pull the rope, it is not loaded). Use your own biners when lowering!
Robert Cort
Joined Oct 12, 2009
837 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks
Adam Robb wrote:
I started climbing this year and have done a couple dozen sport routes. I have always lowered from the the rap rings/niners/cold shut hooks when cleaning the route or cleaning the top rope setup. My question is regarding rapping down vrs lowering. There have been discussions in rappel vs lower which I have read extensively but I gues what I don't understand is if you rap vrs lower don't you still have to use the same rings? I am missing something in this regard? Also, in a climb with open hooks anchors, no locking mechanism whatsoever, how much should I be shitting myself lowering from them? Danka


If you're sport climbing, just lower when you're done with the climb. If you or anyone in your party is going to TR the route, this should be done through you're own gear, but the last person to climb the route should clean it then lower through whatever is at the top.


As far as lowering from open hooks, don't worry about it. Just make sure you don't unweight the rope or do anything that would allow the rope to come out of the hooks (jumping up and down, swinging around wildly, etc.).
kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Joined Aug 12, 2010
2,061 points
Dec 18, 2015
kennoyce wrote:
If you're sport climbing, just lower when you're done with the climb. If you or anyone in your party is going to TR the route, this should be done through you're own gear, but the last person to climb the route should clean it then lower through whatever is at the top. As far as lowering from open hooks, don't worry about it. Just make sure you don't unweight the rope or do anything that would allow the rope to come out of the hooks (jumping up and down, swinging around wildly, etc.).


Not quite, to save wear on the fixed gear, the last person should rap off of the fixed gear when done with the climb.
Robert Cort
Joined Oct 12, 2009
837 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks
One more thing, on this thread you will notice a lot of people who will advocate rapping from everything. What you will also notice is that these people tend to be primarily trad climbers. Since you are talking specifically about sport climbing, pay more attention to those responses that come from people who actually sport climb;) kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Joined Aug 12, 2010
2,061 points
Dec 18, 2015
Robert Cort wrote:
Not quite, to save wear on the fixed gear, the last person should rap off of the fixed gear when done with the climb.


This is going to devolve quickly... Except on climbs that have fixed draws, rams horns, mussy hooks, and the like, which are obviously intended to be lowered off when done. When you've just got a chain or quick link up top, I'll usually rap. Always TR through your own gear.

If there's one take-home message from this thread, have it be this: BE CERTAIN that you and your belayer are on the same page regarding what you're planning to do before you head up. More than one fatality has happened when the belayer took the climber off belay due to confusion re: lowering or rapping.
Jimmy Sledd
From Bozeman, Montana
Joined Mar 7, 2013
16 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rappel to save from wearing down the fixed gear. It's not cheap and many people rely on it to keep them safe.

If the routes you're climbing are super steep, overhung routes - then consider lowering because it will make cleaning your draws much easier.

Cheers!
Luke Lindeman
From Lancaster, PA
Joined Jul 28, 2015
3 points
Dec 18, 2015
Sometimes lowering is the way to go because an overhanging route may be difficult to clean on rappel. Below is an illustrated picture of how to do this in a more safe way.

Usually, you will want to keep the gear as wear free as possible so everyone has a longer time to play on it, but in some situations a lower will be more advantageous.

The key is to have a game plan on what you will be doing before you get up there.


Rock Climbing Photo: Lower with Prusik.
Lower with Prusik.
BigFeet
From Texas
Joined May 5, 2014
367 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: bolt porn
Hello,

The accepted way on a route is to
1 lead the route with Quickdraws or pro
2 clip Quickdraws or equalizing slings and biners to the anchor and lower through them. This leaves the rope through the pro/bolts to help the follower stay on the line of the route
3 everyone in the group top ropes and lowers using the draws/biners put on the anchors by the leader
4 last person cleans draws / pro on the way up, clips harness directly to anchors, weights tie in slings to test while still on belay, calls "off belay", ties a bite on the rope and clips to harness or anchor so the rope does not fall to the ground, unties rope from harness, threads through anchor, unties bite, and lowers rope until both sides are on the ground or middle marker is at the anchors
5 last person sets up rappel device and weights it to "check the motion" while still tied directly to the anchors. If ok, calls "on rappel" and raps down. There is no weighted rope moving over the anchor and creating friction that wears on the anchor. When they are down, pulling the rope through the anchor unweighted does not cause enough friction to wear down the anchor. Call "rope" before it falls to warn climbers in the area of a falling rope.

Exception: if the last climber leads the pitch instead of toproping and it is overhung or traverses, it will be easier and safer to lower the climber so they can use both hands to tram down the rope and clean the draws/pro without letting their brake hand off the rope.

On sketchy rappels have someone hold the bottom of the rope strands on the ground. If the rapeller's hand comes off the brake, you can stop their fall down the rope by pulling down on the rope (basically the person on the ground is their backup brake hand)

Happy climbing. Hope this helps. Check out the old black and white Sierra Club book "rock climbing" for some good info on rope craft, stopper and hex craft, moving over stone, and awesome old school swamy belt climbing pics. I'm sure there are also more modern instruction books but old school is kind of cool.
bus driver
Joined Aug 16, 2009
723 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Born again on the last move of the Red Dihedral, h...
wsperry wrote:
Adam, Its perfectly safe to rappel as well as lower from anchors, rings whatever. However, when you lower through the anchor your causing unnecessary wear & tear on the hardware itself, decreasing the life span of the anchors for other climbers. So, you should learn how to clean and rappel an anchor, and do it every time you're done on a sport route.


Take all advice with a big grain of salt. It is much more common for climbers to be lowered from a sport route than to rap it. There may be some regional differences here but it is generally accepted in the U.S.

That being said, you should avoid setting up a TR directly through the chains.
Eric D
From Gnarnia
Joined Nov 29, 2006
242 points
Dec 18, 2015
James Sledd wrote:
If there's one take-home message from this thread, have it be this: BE CERTAIN that you and your belayer are on the same page regarding what you're planning to do before you head up. More than one fatality has happened when the belayer took the climber off belay due to confusion re: lowering or rapping.


This is really, really good advice. WAY more than one fatality.

Note that these accidents have even occurred in situations where the leader TOLD THE BELAYER THAT THEY WERE OFF BELAY. But they were confused and really just meant "I'm at the anchor." One of a number of reasons why most people lower off when they can. Then leading to an even larger number of lowering accidents. So knot your rope ends too!
Optimistic
From New Paltz
Joined Aug 29, 2007
328 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Hidden valley
If you can safely rap off, then do so to save wear on the rope and the anchors. Collonious
From Golden, CO
Joined Mar 17, 2008
45 points
Dec 18, 2015
The more mainstream, used by current climbers, contains difficult routes, has modern hardware - an area is - the more likely it is that lowering will be the norm (and the less likely it is that anyone will be TR-ing/seconding) Eric Engberg
Joined Apr 28, 2009
2 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Johnny Cat
Some people will say rappelling is safer, and some people will say lowering is safer because you never have to go completely off belay when done correctly. There are probably a lot more people that die from miscommunication going off belay than people just busting through worn out rings or chains. Shep
From Grand Junction, Colorado
Joined May 10, 2013
26 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Logo of the Raptor Conservation / Science / Educat...
BigFeet wrote:
Sometimes lowering is the way to go because an overhanging route may be difficult to clean on rappel. Below is an illustrated picture of how to do this in a more safe way. Usually, you will want to keep the gear as wear free as possible so everyone has a longer time to play on it, but in some situations a lower will be more advantageous. The key is to have a game plan on what you will be doing before you get up there.



This is only relevant when lowering off a single point. Most sport routes will have a redundant 2-bolt anchor that can safely be lowered from without using a prussik
Eric Chabot
From Salt Lake City, UT
Joined Jul 16, 2011
100 points
Dec 18, 2015
Save the wear and tear on the anchours and don't top rope through them. Rap or lower is usually based on what is locally accepted and how the anchours are set up.

Use this method to save wear and tear on anchours when top roping.
Rock Climbing Photo: Top Rope guide
Top Rope guide
Rolf Rybak
From Penticton BC
Joined Dec 10, 2010
291 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Expatriot
Rolf Rybak wrote:
Save the wear and tear on the anchours and don't top rope through them. Rap or lower is usually based on what is locally accepted and how the anchours are set up. Use this method to save wear and tear on anchours when top roping.


I love that method. Especially if I'm with someone who doesn't have enough experience to set up the rap...And before anyone flags me about my going against what I normally do: Yes I will deviate from my normal routine if the situation dictates.
frank minunni
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined May 26, 2011
129 points
Administrator
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lich...
kennoyce wrote:
One more thing, on this thread you will notice a lot of people who will advocate rapping from everything. What you will also notice is that these people tend to be primarily trad climbers. Since you are talking specifically about sport climbing, pay more attention to those responses that come from people who actually sport climb;)

Yes, and those who actually place the anchors, like me;) With beefy sport anchors, we mostly intend for people to TR and lower through their own gear, but lower directly through the rings etc. if you are the last in the party. Exceptions are if the anchors have to be situated in a spot that will cause undue wear on your rope if lowered or if the anchors are crappy aluminum rings or other such sub par anchors that shouldn't have been installed to begin with. You would rap then to save your rope from getting trashed or wearing through soft aluminum. If glue-in anchor bolts are missing replaceable wear points (rings, clippies, hooks etc) it is better to rap too until you can replace them. Maybe you would want to rap or self lower if you are not confident with your belayer, but you shouldn't be having them belay you anyway. This has been said so many times, but traditions die hard.
M Sprague
From New England
Joined Nov 9, 2006
6,307 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rolf Rybak wrote:
Save the wear and tear on the anchours and don't top rope through them. Rap or lower is usually based on what is locally accepted and how the anchours are set up. Use this method to save wear and tear on anchours when top roping.

Cool idea!
Optimistic
From New Paltz
Joined Aug 29, 2007
328 points
Dec 18, 2015
frank minunni wrote:
I love that method. Especially if I'm with someone who doesn't have enough experience to set up the rap...And before anyone flags me about my going against what I normally do: Yes I will deviate from my normal routine if the situation dictates.

What's the downside? Just if the rope doesn't run smoothly that way/sharp edges/usual anchor stuff?
Optimistic
From New Paltz
Joined Aug 29, 2007
328 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks
M Sprague wrote:
Yes, and those who actually place the anchors, like me;)


Wasn't really going to bring that point up, but it's true. I am also one of those people who actually place and replace anchors, and I also fully intend people to lower off of my anchors.
kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Joined Aug 12, 2010
2,061 points
Dec 18, 2015
I always set up my own top-rope anchor system when topropping to avoid wear on fixed gear as well as my own rope: this makes abundant sense to me.

What doesn't make sense is the physics behind how rapping through rings wears them any less than lowering through them...it's your body weight on the rope regardless which should cause the same amount of friction...to those who suggest using your own biners to rap from how would you recover said biners? There is a climb I've done that has open hooks and when I lower from them I feel like I'm rolling dice but as long as most of you can assure me its ok I'll leave the toilet paper in the truck.

Thanks for all advice.
Adam Robb
Joined Aug 25, 2015
6 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Miniholland
When you lower through rings etc.., the rope slides over metal. This causes the rope to saw through and wear out hardwear, damaging hardwear and possibly cutting rope. When you rap off hardwear the rope doesn't slide through. YOU slide down the rope then pull the unweighted rope through after. No real wear there. JoeGaribay
From Ventura, Ca
Joined Apr 26, 2014
67 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks
Adam Robb wrote:
I always set up my own top-rope anchor system when topropping to avoid wear on fixed gear as well as my own rope: this makes abundant sense to me. What doesn't make sense is the physics behind how rapping through rings wears them any less than lowering through them...it's your body weight on the rope regardless which should cause the same amount of friction...to those who suggest using your own biners to rap from how would you recover said biners? There is a climb I've done that has open hooks and when I lower from them I feel like I'm rolling dice but as long as most of you can assure me its ok I'll leave the toilet paper in the truck. Thanks for all advice.


Again, for sport climbing I'm not advocating rapping ever, however, to answer your question, lowering certainly does wear the anchors more than rapping.

Think of it this way, if you were to take a piece of sand paper to a piece of metal and put a whole lot of pressure on it as you are sanding you will remove a lot more metal than if you apply a tiny bit of pressure while doing the same amount of rubbing. This is exactly the scenario of lowering vs rapping. With lowering you have the weight of the climber putting pressure on the rope which acts like the sandpaper on the metal chains or rings or whatever. With rapping, the rope isn't moving across the metal as the climber raps, so no sanding action, then the only sanding action happens as you pull the unweighted rope which puts relatively little pressure on it. I hope this clears up any confusion.
kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Joined Aug 12, 2010
2,061 points
Dec 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Old Lady H
Adam Robb wrote:
I always set up my own top-rope anchor system when topropping to avoid wear on fixed gear as well as my own rope: this makes abundant sense to me. What doesn't make sense is the physics behind how rapping through rings wears them any less than lowering through them...it's your body weight on the rope regardless which should cause the same amount of friction...to those who suggest using your own biners to rap from how would you recover said biners? There is a climb I've done that has open hooks and when I lower from them I feel like I'm rolling dice but as long as most of you can assure me its ok I'll leave the toilet paper in the truck. Thanks for all advice.

Re: physics, the rope isn't moving when rapping. If you are lowering when cleaning, you will also need to look up tramming, for overhanging routes, and some other difficult situations. If you choose to rappel, practice, practice, practice! It really does vary from place to place, and it never hurts to have a nice fat bag of tricks! Best, H
Old lady H
From Boise, Idaho
Joined Aug 24, 2015
73 points


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