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Ropes for protected leading - a real thing?

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 mmmhumous 29 Jul 2020

Random question, but has anyone heard of this, or got a link? 

I don't mean the Czech practice of using knotted rope/slings instead of nuts. I'm talking about:

  1. Tying a series of knots along the length of  semi-static line.
  2. Attaching one end to the belay at the top of the route.
  3.  Leading on a dynamic rope
  4. Clipping the lead rope into the knots on the static line in lieu of bolts/trad gear /the kahunas to solo it.

One of my climbing partners mentioned this was sometimes done across the pond on rock that was too delicate to bolt, but either google is letting me down, or he was having me on.

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In reply to mmmhumous:

I can't see any reason you physically couldn't do that, but if you've got the top anchor there why not just top-rope it?

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In reply to mmmhumous:

I've never heard of anyone doing this. 

I have heard of people backing up duff bolts with rope or slings from above. 

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 Pete_Frost 29 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

I've often tied into the bottom of an abseil rope as part of the belay, and people commonly extend bolts or trad gear with chains of slings. (look at Adam Ondra on Silence, or Johnny Dawes on The Quarryman). So, in theory, you could attach a rope to a solid anchor at the top of a climb and clip into loops on that rope, rather than into bolts or gear. I think you'd have to be extremely careful that you had protected the rope wherever it could slide across the rock, or just scrape up and down if it was repeatedly loaded (we had to protect our abseil rope carefully when we descended from Sickle Ledges on el Capitan because the repeated gentle loading and unloading would have rasped through the rope as it passed over the edge of the ledge). So, in theory you could do it, but you'd have to be very careful and know what you were doing, or it could all end very badly indeed.

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 fred99 29 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

Did it once at Shakemantle - the hangers were missing on a route I wanted to do. I put the loops at the points where the hangers should have been. Was interesting - but safer than doing an E2 or E3 solo.

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 Jon Greengrass 29 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

I saw a group doing this at the black hawk area of Stanage years ago. Bizarre!

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 CMcBain 29 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

I’ve seen similar done at Montserrat in Spain. Generally long routes that are very sparsely bolted, 2 or 3 bolts in 20m with ground fall potential. Long sling or bit of rope with bights in it allowing you to clip without the mega run out. Although bad times if the bolt fails.

I had assumed it was maybe a cost saving thing when some routes were originally bolted. Placing 3 or 4 bolts and doing the above would save placing 12+ bolts. Although I would of though most routes like that would have been fully retro bolted eventually but maybe some slip through the cracks.

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 Si Witcher 29 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

I was taught this as a back up option for when teaching people to lead trad. The leader under instruction places their own gear in the rock as they climb upwards but in addition either they or the supervising instructor (jumaring alongside) can also clip the lead rope to regular loops in a hanging rope alongside for peace of mind. This was a Joint Services RCI course in '05 and I don't know if it's still taught now.

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 Andy Peak 1 29 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

I did exactly this in Eldon Hole! The bolts had been chopped so we put down a knotted low stretch rope and led it on a Dynamic! It was more interesting than just top roaping.

Post edited at 21:41
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 trouserburp 30 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

I might have done this on the ab rope once when i underestimated the climb and overestimated the gear...

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 jon 30 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

> One of my climbing partners mentioned this was sometimes done across the pond on rock that was too delicate to bolt, but either google is letting me down, or he was having me on.

Maybe he's thinking of Todd Skinner doing this at Hueco Tanks. If I remember correctly it was because of a bolting ban on that part of the crag rather than the quality of the rock.

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In reply to Andy Peak 1:

You did the Eldon hole route!!!!!  How is is? Worth the faff?

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 jonny taylor 30 Jul 2020
In reply to Pete_Frost:

> I think you'd have to be extremely careful that you had protected the rope wherever it could slide across the rock, or just scrape up and down if it was repeatedly loaded [...]. So, in theory you could do it, but you'd have to be very careful and know what you were doing, or it could all end very badly indeed.

I'd also be a bit worried about the potential for the two ropes to slide against each other and abrade during a fall. Not as bad here as in some potential scenarios, but it would make me nervous.

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 WVRox 30 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

I've done this a few times  - works well on Red Wall at Trowbarrow for example. Much more engaging than top roping.

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 Donotello 31 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

Have considered this on crack climbs that I’ve enjoyed top roping but don’t have the minerals to fully lead on crack placed gear. 

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In reply to mmmhumous:

I am an incredibly non-technical-geek "punter" who doesn't sport-climb on rock in the real spirit of sport climbing, but what you describe is incredibly familiar to me, not from genuine experience of it but from theorising about methods, even as newbie 20 years ago. 

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In reply to mmmhumous:

I suppose it would Bridge the gap between indoor and outdoor leading in areas without bolts. 

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 MischaHY 31 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

I've actually seen this used as a method of mental progression when working on a very bold headpoint. Just as toprope soloing on a microtraxion is more engaging and feels more like soloing than normal toproping, this is another level - you can do a long runout over an ultimately safe fall which gives much more realism to the dodgy crux moves!

The important tactics as mentioned are rope protectors in the right places, and maybe a locking biner on the rope if you're going to simulate a longer runout. 

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 GrahamD 31 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

I've sort of done it once on a route at Cornwall which turned out to be on granite with the consistency of shortbread.  Luckily my partner could swing the ab rope across and I was able to tie overhand knots in it to clip extenders into.

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 Cobra_Head 31 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

Home made Via Ferrata ?

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 Kirill 31 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

It's an advisable method to use on some routes at Swanage. Exits from lower walls at Blacker's Hole spring to mind. 

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 bpmclimb 31 Jul 2020
In reply to mmmhumous:

I've done this on occasion, to check how a new route (or section of a new route) feels on lead, prior to installing one or more bolts. Semi static is best, with quickdraws placed on Alpine butterflies so that the lowest crabs coincide with the intended bolt positions.

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 mmmhumous 02 Aug 2020
In reply to Pete_Frost:

Yep, rope abrasion on the edge/lip if you fell would be of concern (definitely more of an issue than if top roping or abseiling), so wouldn't advocate it as a stepping stone between TR or indoor to outdoor lead for those new to climbing. (@Jonny taylor, with krabs/draws on the knotted rope, the little to no risk of the ropes rubbing).

Reason for asking was to find out if this 'niche technique' had a generally accepted name.

I've just developed some dry-tooling routes, and the rock is utter choss, so bolts weren't an option. I've set them with the intention of being tope-rope beginner routes, but wanted to lead them all for the first ascents. I got trad gear in some of them, which I'd convinced myself would hold, but had to resort to 'wierdo-knotted-rope' leads for those with no gear. 

I went with alpine butterflies for the potential 3-way pull, and very well protected edges.  It definitely feels bizarre to do

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