/ Top rope tough guys....

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rachelpearce01 06 Nov 2019

...killing the lower offs!!

I’ve been in Kalymnos for a couple of weeks and have noticed (many times) people top roping directly through the lower off. I thought the lower off was for lowering off, once you’d finished with the route and where stripping it. 
 

We have noticed that lots of the lower offs are knackered here, to the point where people have left leaver beaners because the lower offs are so worn they are probably going to chop your rope.

Its not just a quick run on a top rope that people seem to be doing, but once David’s finishes the route, Katrina says she might as well have a go since the ropes up (even though it’s 5 grades harder than her onsight limit). Dogging the hell out of it whilst david is relentlessly throwing himself off the edge in an effort to give Katrina a bit of assistance. 
 

Job done ?

NO!

Good pal Steve has just come around the corner and said he might as well have a go, since Katrina made it sound good! He knows it’s going to be hard but why not, the ropes up and all the draws are stripped so nothing to lose !

None of this would be a problem bar the lower is getting completely shagged. And taking about 10x more wear and tear than it needs to. When I have approached a few of these people and tried to point out it might be better to leave a clip through the top bolt, I have generally been met with confusion or just straight misunderstanding. One guy said “the lower off is made of stainless steel, my rope will be fine”, another said “there is already a clip in the lower off, you don’t need to put one in”. He was referring to the fact that Kalymnos is blessed with having lower offs with clips instead of having to rethread. 

Is it bad education or do people just not care /ignorant. Equippers spend a lot of cash and time and energy equipping routes. As climbers we don’t always contribute all that much to the actual cost of this. Lower offs always have to be in place but they ain’t cheap, especially the ones they have in Kalymnos to save people from re threading. 

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webbo 06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

You cannot educate Pork.

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rachelpearce01 06 Nov 2019
In reply to webbo:

Ah yeah fair point...?

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mrphilipoldham 06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Wall-bred climbers? Controversial

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DannyH001 06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

I think it is a case of bad education both in terms of ethics and the dangers associated with sharp edges on rope.

I've seen this a fair amount too on sport crags through the UK and Kalymnos. I was lucky enough to be taken there with university by a few of well experienced and qualified instructors who taught me to use quickdraws and the reasons why...otherwise I'd probably do the same myself.

Another symptom of an increasing amount of indoor climbers going to easy access crags for the first time without prior knowledge or instruction.

Just got to keep plugging away to inform people as best we can. I find a 5 minute chat about the route and previous trips to break the ice and get on a level is often better than just going over and telling people what they are doing wrong haha

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rachelpearce01 06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Should we just ban top roping ? It’s sport climbing after all, grow some balls? Generally on the whole safe !!

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DannyH001 06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

> Should we just ban top roping ? It’s sport climbing after all, grow some balls? Generally on the whole safe !!

Thats even more narrow minded than TR on lower offs. People should be allowed to climb how they want alongside reasonable ethical behaviour and safe instruction. The top athletes in the world all TR before going for a lead these days, even on a boulder.

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rachelpearce01 06 Nov 2019
In reply to DannyH001:

It was tongue in cheek !

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rachelpearce01 06 Nov 2019
In reply to DannyH001:

A boulder where they’re going to break their legs if they blow the last moves ?

Post edited at 18:13
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PaulW 06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

> Should we just ban top roping ? It’s sport climbing after all, grow some balls? Generally on the whole safe !!

or if it is balls you are after even ban sport climbing

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DannyH001 06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Sorry...its been a bad day. I agree that its a problem at popular crags and has been for some time, I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for the equippers. I think more efforts to promote donations to local bolt funds are necessary too. For the price of an extra beer you can buy a petzl couer bolt.

Did you have a good trip anyway??

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rachelpearce01 06 Nov 2019
In reply to PaulW:

No way. How else are we all supposed to get strong?! Plus I love a good holiday clipping bolts. 
 

Trad is #1, and it’s all good having balls, but if you haven’t got the guns to back it up with, you may end up in a big heap on the floor. 

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Presley Whippet 06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

It is sad to see. Lowering and top roping best practice is explicit in the guidebook and still ignored. 

In kalymnos, a few posters around massouri, flyers in bars and reminders on Festival t shirts could help spread the message. Other areas don't have the same hub but the practice should spread. 

Whether the return would justify the investment is another question. 

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rachelpearce01 06 Nov 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

Volunteer top rope police? Like the prefects at school? 

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Alex1 06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

The problem in Kalynos seems to be crowds of people getting on routes that they aren't good enough to climb, these same people also tend to be the type who are not confident enough to rig the route properly (as you need to be comfortable that you'll get to the top and swap the rope over whilst clipped into the chains).  The route hogging there is the worse I've seen at any sport crag

Don't think there is any way to change that though other than encouraging climbers to lead more (route of the problem). There is definitely a trend that lots of people start top roping, are scared of leading and never make the effort to break through that mental block (or if they do they try once, get terrified and refuse to try again).  Unfortunately most of the methods I can think of to get people comfortable leading are focused on gentle mocking if an unnecessary top rope is suggested or helpfully providing some extra slack when they are gibbering so that they learn what a soft catch feels like.  I suspect a better approach is lots of easy leading to build confidence but this can be hard to do on lots of crags due to a lack of routes.

Post edited at 19:33
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Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

The clipper lower-offs in Kaly are superbly convenient, but they are just storing up problems for the future - thousands of them will need to be replaced at great cost and energy. The sooner they move to threadable rings the better - much less inclined to wear plus easy (and cheap) to replace.

In my humble opinion of course,

Chris

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Misha 06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

You can only try to educate people...

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MB42 06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

> Trad is #1, and it’s all good having balls, but if you haven’t got the guns to back it up with, you may end up in a big heap on the floor. 

Indeed there is plenty of evidence the former aren't required at all... Beth Rodden on Meltdown, Ines Papert on the Hurting (in a gale) etc etc...

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krikoman 06 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

We had a big group of Scottish and Irish, turn up at a crag in Spain, some of them were seasoned climbers, so not novices, but they never once put a screwgate in! There must have been at least 12 people climbing.

we had four and always put a screwgate in, it's not hard is it?

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Howard J 07 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

My guess is it's simply lack of education, especially among Brits.  A large number of Brits who go to Kalymnos are trad climbers.  Even experienced climbers may not know what to do on sport climbs, it just doesn't feature in their basic climbing education.  They're used to walls where there are top-ropes through clips and clips at the top of lead routes.  They know (or very quickly discover, as I did) that they may have to untie and thread at the top of some routes, but on Kaly they often don't even have to do that, so why would they not do as they would at the wall?

Ignorance is not an excuse of course, but the fact is that for a large number of British climbers bolted climbing is an occasional holiday interlude and we don't really think about what we're doing. 

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cragtyke 07 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM_2Q_JPX8E

To add a little levity and for the benefit of younger viewers who may not be familiar with the title of the thread.

Post edited at 00:45
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Wiley Coyote2 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Chris Craggs:

> The sooner they move to threadable rings the better - much less inclined to wear plus easy (and cheap) to replace.

>

Not sure about that, Chris. I see you point but often the first climber to do the route is usually the stronest in the team/group and  the last is one of the weaker/less experienced ones. That being so, the temptation might well be for the most competent one to thread the anchor meaning that even more people would TR on the in situ gear. One of the advantages of the Kaly system (if only people would get the message) is  that it is easy and safe for the last person, even if they are relatively inexperienced, to  TR the route, clip the in situ biner and then strip the teams own QDs from the  anchor without there being much chance to cock it up and kill themselves.

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mff513 07 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Perhaps it would be a good idea if rather than just two bolts at the top of the route they put two bolts with mallions through the bolts just to encourage people to use the relatively cheap and easy to replace mallions. As some other people have pointed out you cant educate everyone, so if you can improve the system then you should probably do that first. 

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Michael Gordon 07 Nov 2019
In reply to MB42:

> Indeed there is plenty of evidence the former aren't required at all... Beth Rodden on Meltdown, Ines Papert on the Hurting (in a gale) etc etc...

Unless we're speaking figuratively of course, in which case balls of steel are definitely required.

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AlanLittle 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Howard J:

> Even experienced climbers may not know what to do on sport climbs ... discover, as I did) that they may have to untie and thread

Thus you neatly prove your own point, since untie-then-thread is rarely necessary and less safe than the standard procedure, which is thread a bight first, clip into that, then untie.

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wbo 07 Nov 2019
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> Wall-bred climbers? Controversial

More probably trad climbers on their annual 'sport ' trip..

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GrahamD 07 Nov 2019
In reply to wbo:

> More probably trad climbers on their annual 'sport ' trip..

Most brits, then

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johncook 07 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

I have seen this sort of performance on a sport slab in the Peak. Not only are they wearing out the anchors, but all that foot scrabbling (with dirty feet on the first few holds) by people trying routes that are massively above their grades, will soon polish the friction out of the routes. A shame as the routes are good and require good technique to climb them!

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johncook 07 Nov 2019
In reply to DannyH001:

When I was in Kalymnos it was an instructor (from a well know trip organiser) top roping through the anchors, and he was very aggressive when I pointed out that what he was doing was wrong!

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mrphilipoldham 07 Nov 2019
In reply to wbo:

I'm a trad climber and don't have an annual sport trip, but if I did, I'd do it properly.

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MischaHY 07 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Anyone spotted doing this in Germany gets schooled by the entire crag in typical German fashion (direct, absolutely no words wasted). If they're lucky they'll get a sympathetic 'Leute, du darfst das nicht', or if they're unlucky they'll be spotted by one of the old boys who will absolutely eat them for breakfast. 

'Was zum teufel tust du dann eigentlich?! Meine bruder und ich haben nicht diese ganze fels geschraubt damit du und dein freund alles versauen können!'

Good on you for saying something. I think rather than changing anchor systems we have to work as a community to ensure that proper crag ethics are enforced to help sustain the future of our climbing areas. We are all responsible for their continuity and that includes educating those who don't know better, even if it involves them getting a little annoyed in the process. 

Yes, it's an arse miming proper Grigri use to yet another crag punter who speaks an obscure eastern european language (or frankly, just explaining Grigri use to a British climber), but if we all keep doing it then we will consistently make a difference. It's literally the only way. 


*Would likely involve far more swearing than this.

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Michael Hood 07 Nov 2019
In reply to MischaHY:

Having just used Google Translate I suspect that the "direct" language might not be as restrained as that

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Rich W Parker 07 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Can I suggest that, as there's a lot of heavy stuff to get angry about these days, this isn't such a big deal.

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Wiley Coyote2 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Rich W Parker:

> Can I suggest that, as there's a lot of heavy stuff to get angry about these days, this isn't such a big deal.


Looking at your profile and pix (stunning btw) I suspect sport climbing is not a big part of your life. However, it is a major p[at of mine and having just returned from my umpteenth trip to Kaly I can confirm that anchor wear is a big and growing problem there. It will be expensive to fix yet easy to avoid if everyone followed good practice. So although, as you suggest, this is not the biggest problem facing humanityat the moment  it is nevertheless important and comparatively easily solved so we may as well do it

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harold walmsley 07 Nov 2019
In reply to DannyH001:

> For the price of an extra beer you can buy a petzl couer bolt.

It isn't just that. For the lower-off its the difference in cost between a) two fixed hangers with a rounded profile (cheapest option: fine when new but wear always happens at the same place on each hanger), b) Two hangers with rings incorporated (Not much more expensive than a), rings s rotate so wear is spread but hard to get hold of in quantity in my experience, c) Standard hangers plus maillons and rings, the maillons and rings at least double the cost of the hangers, d) Fancier assemblies of chains, links and rings or fixed carbiners (very expensive, beyond what most equippers will paty for personally, probably only used at places wre the equipping is supported financially.

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Robert Durran 07 Nov 2019
In reply to MischaHY:

> Yes, it's an arse miming proper Grigri use to yet another crag punter who speaks an obscure eastern european language (or frankly, just explaining Grigri use to a British climber), but if we all keep doing it then we will consistently make a difference. It's literally the only way. 

What has choice of belay device got to do with the issue of top roping off anchors?

Post edited at 10:44
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Tom V 07 Nov 2019
In reply to cragtyke:

Nice one. I look forward to the Clipstick  mini-sequel.

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Twiggy Diablo 07 Nov 2019

Not just beginners: saw a guide from the westway climbing wall setting up topropes for his class of learners at the cuttings in portland because he couldn’t be arsed to climb back up to retrieve gear after they’d finished.

also might’ve seen a famous British climber doing this for his daughter at horseshoe (though he did ab down himself so I guess the wear on the rings is about equal) 🤫

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Pete O'Donovan 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Another vote for ring belays.

I do most of my climbing (and equipping) in Catalunya and the state of many older lower-offs is a huge cause for concern:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/photos/dbpage.php?id=335948

...yet people still top-rope on lower-offs like this. Sure, they'll back it up with a couple of their own quickdraws but rarely make an attempt to make sure the quickdraws are taking the strain, rather than the lower-off krabs. No matter how much you try to 'educate' them, people will nearly always select the easiest option, with little or no thought for the consequences.

Threadable rings such as this model:

https://www.fixeclimbing.com/sport-climbing/anclajes/?pr=reunion-rapel-bicromanillaplaq-d10mm

are reasonably cheap and incredibly long-lasting. The ring itself is usually made from 12mm stock and the fact it can move around prevents wear occurring in just one place. If top-ropers are not confident about how to safely thread the rope for descent then they should not be put in a position where they have to do so. The first climber up can always thread the lower ring him/herself and place a krab on the upper ring (or bolt in the case of units featuring just the lower ring) to create a foolproof system with minimal wear and tear.

Pete.

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jimtitt 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Chris Craggs:

> The clipper lower-offs in Kaly are superbly convenient, but they are just storing up problems for the future - thousands of them will need to be replaced at great cost and energy. The sooner they move to threadable rings the better - much less inclined to wear plus easy (and cheap) to replace.

> In my humble opinion of course,

> Chris


The cost of ONE climber hitting the ground because they screwed-up re-tying would pay for all the top anchors in Kalymnos many times over. It's happened already.

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Paul Hy 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Pete O'Donovan:

> are reasonably cheap and incredibly long-lasting. The ring itself is usually made from 12mm stock and the fact it can move around prevents wear occurring in just one place. If top-ropers are not confident about how to safely thread the rope for descent then they should not be put in a position where they have to do so. The first climber up can always thread the lower ring him/herself and place a krab on the upper ring (or bolt in the case of units featuring just the lower ring) to create a foolproof system with minimal wear and tear.

Yup, this is the way to go.

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rachelpearce01 07 Nov 2019
In reply to johncook:

Not true, provided your belayer fairly heavy and is happy to throw himself off the edge relentlessly, then good technique is not a requirement for success! We have even seen people using dumars above their gri gri to pull all the stretch out of the rope !!!

In all seriousness I completely agree with you, this annoys me maybe even more so!!

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Anotherclimber 07 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Ban top roping.....by whom and how?

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Tom V 07 Nov 2019
In reply to jimtitt:

 Are you more liable to screw up tying yourself on at the top of the crag as opposed to the bottom?

Post edited at 13:30
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Enty 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Pete O'Donovan:

> Another vote for ring belays.

> I do most of my climbing (and equipping) in Catalunya and the state of many older lower-offs is a huge cause for concern:

That's awful. A home welded top chain link, a D shackle and a 35 pence carabiner.

E

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jimtitt 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Tom V:

>  Are you more liable to screw up tying yourself on at the top of the crag as opposed to the bottom?


Tying on twice per route rather than once could be more dangerous.

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Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator07 Nov 2019
In reply to jimtitt:

> The cost of ONE climber hitting the ground because they screwed-up re-tying would pay for all the top anchors in Kalymnos many times over. It's happened already.


May I respectfully suggest every climbing going sport climbing needs to have threading a ring 100% wired before they ever leave the ground.

I would even go so far as to say, that as nowadays 95%+ learn to climb in gyms, the second thing they should learn is how to safely thread a ring, it is a life skill and not even remotely difficult,

Chris

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Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator07 Nov 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

> Not sure about that, Chris. I see you point but often the first climber to do the route is usually the stronest in the team/group and  the last is one of the weaker/less experienced ones. That being so, the temptation might well be for the most competent one to thread the anchor meaning that even more people would TR on the in situ gear.

It isn't an issue - the leader (presumably the guy who knows what he is doing????) threads the ring and lowers-off. The rest (weaker members???) never need to untie whilst on the climb - see picture of how to preserve the ring (or lower-off krab) - easy as!

https://www.ukclimbing.com/photos/dbpage.php?id=335977

Chris

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Paul Hy 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Chris Craggs:

> I would even go so far as to say, that as nowadays 95%+ learn to climb in gyms, the second thing they should learn is how to safely thread a ring, it is a life skill and not even remotely difficult,

Most climbing walls I've been to have top anchor simulators at ground level.  Walls could/should emphasise them more to all climbers regardless of experience.   

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Tom V 07 Nov 2019
In reply to jimtitt:

I suppose so, in the same way that tying on for two routes poses more risks than tying on for one route.

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jimtitt 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Tom V:

> I suppose so, in the same way that tying on for two routes poses more risks than tying on for one route.


Indeed, and it's not simply doubling the risks. Down the bottom there's no stress, if you get it wrong someone might see and if it all went wrong and you fell on the route by definition you don't crater from the top.

At the top one false move is death.

The risks at the bottom can be reduced by protocols, at the top they can be eliminated completely for a few pence.

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Wiley Coyote2 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Tom V:

>  Are you more liable to screw up tying yourself on at the top of the crag as opposed to the bottom?


The crucial difference - especially for  inexperienced  climbers, which we all were once - is that at ground level someone can buddy check you. At the anchors you are on your own.

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Tom V 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

>  At the anchors you are on your own.

There are lots of situations in climbing where you are on your own and it's for this reason that in time you need to get certain practices 100% solid without the benefit of someone watching over you.

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Al Randall 07 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

It never ceases to amaze me that we survived the 60's and 70's with the scant information available to us at the time.  We just learned a few knots and used common sense but I suppose there is a lot more gear around these days so perhaps that approach is no longer good enough.  I can't help but think that the common sense approach is in sadly decline.  Everyone seems to want qualifications, courses and "best practice" advice before lifting a finger.

Al

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Northern Star 07 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Clip in lower offs are great.  Sure they may take a little more wear and need to be replaced more regularly than rings but if they prevent just one serious accident then surely it's worth it?  Don't see anything wrong with a bit of top roping for a less capable second either, providing they're not totally dogging a route way beyond their ability.

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GrahamD 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Northern Star:

Its a strawman, though, isn't it? There is no evidence that more convenient equates to safer.

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rachelpearce01 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Northern Star:

But they are, that’s the problem. Dog dog doggo! Clip in lower offs area great. But they’re not a safety net (they are after all only a snap gate?), they’re a convenience. That is all. 

The reality is, if you’re climbing outside, on a bolted sport route, then you really ought to be taught how to thread a lower off (and how to tie in?!) for your own personal safety. 

As Chris (and pete?) have already pointed out; there is absolutely no reason for a novice to have to thread the lower off when they get there. All they do is take the QuickDraw (or snapgate/screwgate) out of the top bolt of the loweroff. There is only one up there. They know it’s theirs. They know how to get it back. The ropes already in the lower off, it’s just not taking any of the weight; double safe! (Maybe the Snapgate lower offs are more dangerous, because although they can’t take them away, they could take the rope out?). 
 

What is actually dangerous, is novices getting to a worn out lower off, clipping in and cutting their rope! If said person can’t rethread a loweroff, there is no way you can expect them to know what a badly worn out lower off looks like 

(I do like the snapgates though, they’re convenient and quick!)

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jimtitt 07 Nov 2019

> What is actually dangerous, is novices getting to a worn out lower off, clipping in and cutting their rope! If said person can’t rethread a loweroff, there is no way you can expect them to know what a badly worn out lower off looks like

Or it's not actually dangerous at all. I've never heard of a lower-off cutting a rope (permadraws yes). And when it comes to climbers judging what's worn out.... ..

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rachelpearce01 07 Nov 2019
In reply to jimtitt:

Or we can just keep top roping through the anchors like it’s not a problem then? I don’t equip ropes, so for me personally it doesn’t make the world of difference. But if I did...

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Wiley Coyote2 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Tom V:

> There are lots of situations in climbing where you are on your own and it's for this reason that in time you need to get certain practices 100% solid without the benefit of someone watching over you.

I agree that ought to be the case and perhaps the critical words here are 'in time'. However, Kaly does seem to attract more than its share of what we might kindly call 'the ill-prepared' - I once came across a team of five who had only two harnesses and one leader between them, so not exactly hard core cragrats.

That being the case, I guess you can take the Rees Mogg approach and say  stupid people deserve all they get   or else you try to make is as safe  and as 'wall-like' as you can for them, certainly on easy/beginner routes, so they don't discover the gaps in their skillset the hard way..

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jimtitt 07 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Well personally I think top-roping through the anchors is great, wonderful and to be  encouraged. But that's because I make and sell them...... 

Whether people toprope through the anchor is a different matter to whether it's thread through or clip in

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DannyH001 08 Nov 2019
In reply to harold walmsley:

Yeah I realise there are more expensive costs associated, I was just making an example. The people out there really deserve credit for what they do, as do the Bleausards who go around and repaint the circuits. But still...if everyone there chipped in 5 Euro each per trip then it would go a long way for the replacement and checks on popular areas.

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DannyH001 08 Nov 2019
In reply to johncook:

Thats really sad to hear John, I'm a professional instructor myself and professionals should know better, especially when it comes to replying to a gentle reminder. Its better used as a teaching point for the group rather than a chance to dig in to someone...

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heleno 08 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

There's one point nobody has raised yet. The consequences of getting threading wrong are more serious when top-roping than when leading. 

When threading at the top of a lead your rope is also through all the quick draws you clipped on your way up.  Assuming you thread a bight rather than untying you're still protected even if you make a mess of threading. 

By contrast, when top-roping there's nothing between the anchors and the ground if you mess up. 

Not saying that necessarily justifies top-roping through the anchors, but its another thing to factor in. 

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jezb1 08 Nov 2019
In reply to heleno:

> By contrast, when top-roping there's nothing between the anchors and the ground if you mess up. 

Depends on what you set up. Many people leave a quickdraw in at least the last bolt.

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rachelpearce01 08 Nov 2019
In reply to heleno:

You can still top rope with it threaded, but have a clip higher than it so that it’s taking all the weight. The second does not need to thread, just take the clip out. 

Post edited at 10:31
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rachelpearce01 08 Nov 2019
In reply to heleno:

And yes like Jez says, if you are top roping just through quick draws to re clip the last 3 draws to the other side of the rope, so that if anything happens (thread wrong or the lower off rips?!?) then you’re backed up by 3 draws and safe. 
 

But really, this is all irrelevant! I’m only talking about minimising wear and tear on lower offs, which is simply a case of (wants the lower off has been clipped/threaded) putting a snapgate/screwgate/QuickDraw on the highest bolt of the lower off so you’re cheap easily replaceable gear takes all the wear. 

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dabble 08 Nov 2019
In reply to Tom V:

IMO it's people getting panicky, squeaky bum time and all that. You're opinions may very.

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Christheclimber 08 Nov 2019
In reply to johncook:

> When I was in Kalymnos it was an instructor (from a well know trip organiser) top roping through the anchors, and he was very aggressive when I pointed out that what he was doing was wrong!

I wonder if it was the same famous instructor who had six ropes rigged directly through the belay lower offs at Arginonta Infrared Wall a couple of years ago. None of his fourteen (yes fourteen) punters could get up the routes and they were nicely polishing up the classic routes. Tw*t.

Chris

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Tom V 08 Nov 2019
In reply to dabble:

Are we talking about tying on time?

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Presley Whippet 08 Nov 2019
In reply to Christheclimber:

I love to see climbers complaining about other climbers polishing "their" holds. It warms the cockles of my heart. 

No need to reply, rant or insult l, I doff my cap, your climbing is so much more important than mine or anyone else's. 

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Kees 08 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

I do kind of understand where thsi comes from. It just kind of happens. The best climber of a group does something rad, but removes all the gear because he/she doesn't believe the rest can do it too. But of course now the rope hangs there and the others feel like giving it a go too. Should the best climber, who is now pumped out, climb back up first and puts some carabiners in again? Then after anyone gave it a go, has to go up for a third time to rebuild the toprope belay again? Could he/she even pull it off even on toprope?

It's easy to argument thet they should in theory. Practice works out a little different sometimes.

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john arran 08 Nov 2019
In reply to Kees:

You appear to be using an extreme, and potentially excusable, example to excuse the much more frequent occurrence of laziness or thoughtlessness.

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Kees 08 Nov 2019
In reply to john arran:

Laziness and thoughtlessness are not to be excused of course. But I do see the case of the one good climber in a group of lesser able friends pretty often too.

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Presley Whippet 08 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Thinking about this has got me wondering. 

What % of descents use the lower off incorrectly?

Is this a significant contributor to the wear?

Or is it just another thing we like to whinge about and use to vilify top ropes, groups and guides?

I don't suppose anyone has the inclination to conduct a study. 

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Misha 08 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Not sure about just clipping the top bolt and top roping off that. You still have the bottom bolt threaded so there will be some wear there, though probably limited. The real issue is once you take the clip out you’re on one bolt, which isn’t very safe. I’d clip both bolts (using different length draws if necessary to equalise as much we possible), then rethread before taking the draws down. 
 

heleno - rethreading is not hard and is an essential skill. If a beginner can’t rethread, the more experienced climber who led the route should go and do it. 

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johncook 08 Nov 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

They are not 'my or anyone else'  holds. They are holds that have a limited life, and people well out of their grade, often with dirty shoes, scrabbling around on them will shorten that life. The holds are there for the enjoyment of all. I believe that the BMC spent quite a lot of time promoting 'Respect the Rock' for this very reason!

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Presley Whippet 08 Nov 2019
In reply to johncook:

> They are not 'my or anyone else'  holds. They are holds that have a limited life,

Sport climbing has been around for sufficient years now, and trad climbing certainly has to make a judgement here. I am not aware of any route "lost" due to polish. Raindogs is still popular. 

people well out of their grade, often with dirty shoes, scrabbling around on them will shorten that life.

Is this not the essence of sport climbing? trying things which are too hard for you until you are successful. Can you define where scrabbling ends and working starts please. 

The holds are there for the enjoyment of all. 

We can agree on that. 

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Pekkie 08 Nov 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> Can you define where scrabbling ends and working starts please. 

Scrabbling is where your feet are out of control: working is where you place your feet carefully and ask for a tight rope/fall off when you can't do a move. In the first instance your boots will polish/damage the rock: in the second, ideally, there will be minimum effect on the rock. The first is usually the result of a beginner being encouraged to try something way beyond their ability: the second (again, ideally!) is where the climber is moving up a grade and has a chance of doing it. 

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Presley Whippet 08 Nov 2019
In reply to Pekkie:

Then there is a lot of scrabbling going on on early attempts at hard sport routes. Remember, some redpoints take years to complete. 

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khris 08 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Is there a difference? 

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john arran 08 Nov 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> Then there is a lot of scrabbling going on on early attempts at hard sport routes. Remember, some redpoints take years to complete. 

They may take years to complete but I doubt any of them start by trying to scrabble their way up!

The climbers willing to put months or years into a route will have long since learned the fruitlessness of scrabbling.

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khris 08 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Sport climbing is all about knowing that you are likely to fall off in the knowledge that you won't deck out. Why belittle novices, some of whom might progress to climb similar grades that aren't bolted? I top roped as a novice and I occasionally sport climb, but don't brag about either.

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GrahamD 08 Nov 2019

In reply

The real issue is once you take the clip out you’re on one bolt, which isn’t very safe.

This is a very  British viewpoint. Most parts of the world view a single bolt as pretty safe. 

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Pekkie 08 Nov 2019
In reply to john arran:

Exactly right. Watch any experienced - not necessarily hard - climber working a route and the footwork is usually neat and precise. The opposite of the beginner in trainers where the scrabbling can be more like a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Not to knock beginners - believe it or not (!) I was one once. Much better to start beginners on easy angled stuff. I'd have thought that this was bleeding obvious...

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khris 08 Nov 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

I agree, two bolts are safer than one. The point I was making is one should not criticise the practice of novices for treating a crag as a  climbing wall (my words) when doing so oneself.

Post edited at 21:35
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Ian Parsons 08 Nov 2019
In reply to GrahamD [and Misha]:

> The real issue is once you take the clip out you’re on one bolt, which isn’t very safe.

This is the set-up suggested by Chris at 16:31 yesterday, and referred to by others:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/photos/dbpage.php?id=335977 

Clearly, in this specific arrangement the final removal of the quickdraw doesn't leave the climber reliant on just one bolt. It can't be applied in all situations - a pair of horizontally spaced staples with no additional hardware, for instance - but I don't think anybody in this thread has actually suggested lowering from a single bolt.

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rachelpearce01 09 Nov 2019
In reply to khris:

Yeah I’ve also top roped. You seem to have missed the whole point of the issue. If you’ve seen the number of f&!@ed lower offs in Kalymnos and how every other group of climbers seem to be top roping directly through the anchors, then maybe you’d find it extremely annoying too. And not just top roping but absolutely caning the lower off, I.e. getting hauled up the route by partner on the ground. This is the reason for the huge wear on lower offs, people don’t seem to care as it seems a lot of people have the mentality that it’s like climbing at the local gym. Don’t need to worry about the bolts and hangers, it’s someone’s job to go around replacing each one and checking them. 

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rachelpearce01 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Ian Parsons:

Exactly 

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rachelpearce01 09 Nov 2019
In reply to khris:

A difference to what?

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Andy Gamisou 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Pekkie:

> Scrabbling is where your feet are out of control: working is where you place your feet carefully and ask for a tight rope/fall off when you can't do a move. In the first instance your boots will polish/damage the rock: in the second, ideally, there will be minimum effect on the rock. The first is usually the result of a beginner being encouraged to try something way beyond their ability: the second (again, ideally!) is where the climber is moving up a grade and has a chance of doing it. 

A couple of weeks ago I encountered a visiting instructor to my local crag, setting up top-ropes for a bunch of training shoe shod beginners.  One of the routes he chose to equip was a friction dependent line graded around 5c that requires precise confidant footwork to have any chance of getting up it, and which a bunch of beginners (as in first time out climbing) had zero chance of getting up without being pulled up by the belayers, especially wearing trainers.  I pointed this out to one of the 'instructors', and the amount of rock polishing scrabbling that would ensue.  I also suggested a much better route to try as an alternative.  All to no effect.  They carried on regardless. All twenty or so of their charges had a go at the route, scrabbling and hauling away merrily. Some even got to the top, which (or so I gathered from their comments) vindicated their decision to continue with this route, despite advice to the contrary.

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rachelpearce01 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Misha:

Sorry I don’t totally understand what you mean here Mischa? I’m saying, to top rope; thread the lower off as normal (or clip it) but attach something to the higher of the two (equalised by a chain) bolts. Your clip will be slightly higher than the lower off (bolts are normally offset) thereby taking most of the weight. I agree the lower off won’t get nothing, but it will get a whole lot less. 
 

Although when you weight the rope you’re weighting one bolt, realistically it’s is attached to the other bolt in the lower off via chain. Worst case (it’s so unlikely to happen) the bolt rips, you drop 6” on to the other bolt. You’ve probably got loads of rope in the system so it’s no big deal. 
 

As for how much wear does top roping contribute; depends on the place I think! We’ve been really surprised here how much everyone is doing it. Passed panorama and grande grotta yesterday, it’s quiet now, but I think 8/10 teams were top roping from 6a-7a+. If you’re climbing as a three, the only wear is the last person stripping the route, so 30/40m on slow, steady lowering. If you’re top roping through the chains, you get the one person wear, plus 2 people repeatedly falling and getting hauled up it. I’m not talking one or two falls or take I’m tired, it’s like every bolt for 8 bolts! It’s steep, pumpy, powerful climbing here. If you fall off at bolt 3 and there’s an enormous overhanging roof above you and 30m of climbing to go, it’s not a good sign! We also saw the jumar pumping away on Trella, a steep 40m 7a. Can’t jump off the edge belaying in the grotta, so this is the next best way!

This is probably a moot point though, because some people definitely had draws in the chains, but I couldn’t see all of them I’d need to get the binoculars to tell for sure (mum gave me a pair, thought they’d be good for onsighting long routes, turns out they’re much better for top rope police. I might buy a drone for this? Could put little red and blue flashing lights on it and a mega phone)

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Michael Gordon 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Al Randall:

> It never ceases to amaze me that we survived the 60's and 70's with the scant information available to us at the time.  We just learned a few knots and used common sense but I suppose there is a lot more gear around these days so perhaps that approach is no longer good enough.  I can't help but think that the common sense approach is in sadly decline.  Everyone seems to want qualifications, courses and "best practice" advice before lifting a finger.>

The trouble with 'common sense' is that it's often wrong! Most people wouldn't think a rope could wear a groove in metal. So the 'common sense approach' would be to assume that top-roping directly through the anchors was absolutely fine. And of course that is why people do it. 'Common sense' in many cases equates to ignorance.

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AlanLittle 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Michael Gordon:

But Rachel is talking about people who have at least enough commitment to and interest in climbing to pay for a flight to Kalymnos. In which case I would have thought "common sense" includes making at least some minimal effort to learn about that basic procedures & etiquette of the activity one is flying a long way and spending a lot of money to engage in. I do find that degree of laziness and complacency a little surprising - but clearly that just means I'm too naive.

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jmchich 09 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Interesting discussion here. My 2p:

I fairly recently did a learn to lead course at a local wall, and threading the anchor was not taught at any point. As with most walls, you used the in-situ biner when you got to the top of the route. My first sport climbing session was at horseshoe quarry, and I'll freely admit I felt unprepared. Luckily I was climbing with two patient, experienced climbers who taught me threading the anchor and using biners to set up for top rope. Seems like this is all stuff that should be taught as part of a lead course, otherwise they're only teaching you to climb indoors...

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Presley Whippet 09 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Rachel, if you are still in paradise, how about doing a quick count up and determining a percentage of bad descents observed. 

This would give an idea as to whether it is worth pursuing any sort of action.

Love your drone idea, it could take photos for a wall of shame sideshow in the town each evening. 

I work in an industry where challenging each other over safety matters is part of the culture. Climbing should be the same, in my experience it isn't always. 

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rachelpearce01 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

Safety’s #1, that’s why we go sport climbing right?! Thing is, what’s unsafe about clipping/threading the lower-off and then putting a biner on the top bolt of the lower off? Some might say that’s double safe 

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Presley Whippet 09 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Nothing at all, best practice. 

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Michael Gordon 09 Nov 2019
In reply to AlanLittle:

Yes but you're saying that with the benefit of the knowledge you have. Since it would seem quite natural to assume that toproping directly through anchors was totally fine, why would someone think to look into it further? In most cases it simply wouldn't occur to them. That's not the way the mind works usually. 

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AlanLittle 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Well, if I were investing significant time & money in a new activity I'd make a bit of effort to read up* on the basics rather than just assume there's nothing I need to learn. But I'm old fashioned that way.

(* or watch some youtube videos)

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Michael Gordon 09 Nov 2019
In reply to AlanLittle:

Yes, it's just difficult when you don't know what you don't know. You can't think of everything to look into. I don't know how many years I was climbing regularly (albeit mainly trad) before I found out this surprising fact.

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Al Randall 09 Nov 2019
In reply to jmchich:

My local wall has an area specifically set up on the ground for this purpose.  It's a Redpoint wall so I suspect they are all similar.  I don't know if the Instructors use it, it's there so it's to be hoped they do, but I have on occasion.

Al

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Presley Whippet 09 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

> Volunteer top rope police? Like the prefects at school? 

Chase down the guilty parties and give them a wedgie. 

Problem solved. 

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john arran 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Al Randall:

We've even got a belay chain and ring set up on the wall in our barn, to help when some guests or coaching clients are unsure. It's 4m up, above mattresses, with a ledge just to one side. Works a treat.

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jimtitt 09 Nov 2019
In reply to jmchich:

> Interesting discussion here. My 2p:

> I fairly recently did a learn to lead course at a local wall, and threading the anchor was not taught at any point. As with most walls, you used the in-situ biner when you got to the top of the route. My first sport climbing session was at horseshoe quarry, and I'll freely admit I felt unprepared. Luckily I was climbing with two patient, experienced climbers who taught me threading the anchor and using biners to set up for top rope. Seems like this is all stuff that should be taught as part of a lead course, otherwise they're only teaching you to climb indoors...


The problem there seems to be a lot of people who think climbing walls have something to do with outdoor climbing and educate their customers appropriately. This hasn't been the case for several decades (and would be a terrible business model).

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Howard J 09 Nov 2019
In reply to AlanLittle:

> Well, if I were investing significant time & money in a new activity I'd make a bit of effort to read up* on the basics

I suspect most people don't regard this as a new activity.  They're just going climbing somewhere warm and sunny.  Many of the Brits I see aren't sport climbing, they're climbing as if it were trad, but with bolts.  They might be slightly more willing to take a fall, but most I see are aiming to get up a route first time.  No one I know is the least bit interested in working a route for any length of time, beyond having maybe a couple of goes at it. 

The only additional skill they know they might need is how to re-thread a belay.  I didn't even know about that the first time I went, I had to work it out from first principles the first time I came across a lower-off without a snap-link.  The first principle, of course, being don't drop the rope.

Now all the information they need is out there.  But if they don't know they need to look for it, they won't find it.

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john arran 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Howard J:

>  They might be slightly more willing to take a fall, but most I see are aiming to get up a route first time.  No one I know is the least bit interested in working a route for any length of time, beyond having maybe a couple of goes at it. 

I realise it may not necessarily follow from your post, but the idea that in order for someone to be sportclimbing they need to be spending days or more on a route is a common but insidious myth.

Sportclimbing really is no more and no less than climbing routes which have been equipped so as to be acceptably safe. It matters not whether you spend five minutes, all day, or several years on a route that's been bolted to be able to be climbed in reasonable safety, it's still sportclimbing.

Post edited at 19:19
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AlanLittle 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Howard J:

I very much doubt that the people Rachel saw were experienced trad climbers. Why would experienced trad climbers be top roping routes that are more closely bolted than the average climbing wall?

Post edited at 21:35
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Wiley Coyote2 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Howard J:

>

> The only additional skill they know they might need is how to re-thread a belay.  I didn't even know about that the first time I went, I had to work it out from first principles the first time I came across a lower-off without a snap-link. 

Quite correct. As with so many activities, the most dangerous people are the ones who don't know that they don't know. I remember a French woman screaming at me in horror on an early foray to Provence in the late 70s/early 80s when I simply looped the rope over the chain rather than threading the ring. It seemed easier and had worked OK so far. But she kindly explained  to me that if either bolt  or any link in the chain had failed - something I'd never contemplated until then because bolts did not do that, er did they? - I'd have been toast. Obvious once it is pointed out so  thank you Madam, wherever you are.

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Wiley Coyote2 09 Nov 2019
In reply to john arran:

> >

> Sportclimbing really is no more and no less than climbing routes which have been equipped so as to be acceptably safe. It matters not whether you spend five minutes, all day, or several years on a route that's been bolted to be able to be climbed in reasonable safety, it's still sportclimbing.

What you say is obviously factually correct but I think most, if not all,recognise there are two distinct styles or at least  mindsets in play  here.

1) Tradding on bolts (as I did for decades when the annual French trip was just a way to get fit for 'proper climbing'  after the winter lay off) ie you clip the bolts but only the on-sight flash counts. If you get stuck you reverse down to a rest for a think and to recover just as you would on a trad route. (Used to utterly bewilder the French). Resting on a bolt means a failure and a redpoint, if you can even be bothered, is probably called 'frigging it to death'.

2 Sport climbing (as I do now) : ie still going for the flash but if I get stuck I yell 'Take' and have a breather on the spot rather than wasting valuable strength battling down to that rest. While hanging there I maybe have a grope at the holds and try to work out a sequence or even pull up on the bolt to check out what's coming. Then I carry on, possibly even stick clip it, work out what's  what before lowering off and having another go at the redpoint, which I still consider a success.

There are of course multiple shades of grey in between these two extremes but switching from 'tradding with bolts'  mode to more a ruthless sport climbing mindset has moved me on several grades both on worked routes and onsight

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andyb211 10 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Hi Rachel,  it is rather annoying having to replace worn out gear!

Top roping through worn out kit is unacceptable, end of.

The lower offs wear so quickly partly from the volume of traffic but its the huge volume of dirty gritty ropes sawing through metal!!!

Look at the lower offs on an indoor wall that get hammered just as much but last much longer.

How many of us wash/rinse the rope mid trip???

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Andy Gamisou 10 Nov 2019
In reply to AlanLittle:

> I very much doubt that the people Rachel saw were experienced trad climbers. Why would experienced trad climbers be top roping routes that are more closely bolted than the average climbing wall?

Probably for the same reason they call "take" when they get knackered on their local climbing wall, rather than pushing on and taking the fall.  I've had lots of opportunity to observe UK trad climbers on their hols clipping bolts, and they're obviously unused to falling off, so are (not surprisingly) reluctant to do so.  As a result, if they are presented with the opportunity to top-rope something near their limit, rather than lead it, then they'll jump at the chance.  Not a criticism by the way, it's how I started sport climbing until I got used to the idea that you can actually fall off with relative impunity (which took about a year in my case).

Also, can honestly say I've never climbed a sport route anywhere (including Kaly) where the routes are more closely bolted than the average climbing wall.

Post edited at 05:44
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john arran 10 Nov 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

I think that your classing of onsight sport climbing as 'tradding with bolts' reflects a personal conceptual division that may be shared by some UK climbers but not by the vast majority, and certainly not by virtually all mainland European climbers.

I do almost exclusively sport climbing when I'm in Ariège but rarely do I work a route that was too hard to have had a fair chance of getting onsight. This is most definitely not trad climbing, on bolts or anything else.

And I think I have a reasonable idea as to what trad climbing is.

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AlanLittle 10 Nov 2019
In reply to andyb211:

> How many of us wash/rinse the rope mid trip???

I did once. On Kalymnos too, after it got totally covered with Arginonta red dust. (Yes, I do always use a rope bag. Nevertheless)

Post edited at 10:16
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Wiley Coyote2 10 Nov 2019
In reply to john arran:

I agree there is often a noticeable difference between the mindset of Continental climbers who are, for the most part,  sport climbers in the broadest sense and many from the UK, where there are still lots of climbers who indulge in at least some some trad. I also agree with Andy Gamisou's comment (above) about 'trad climbers on holiday' which tallies with my own observations and personal climbing  experience.

These days I am predominantly a sport climber even in the UK and it differs so much from my trad climbing style that it seems to be almost a different activity. From what I have seen on dozen of trips to Europe the same seems to hold true for large numbers of British visitors though this may be changing with new generations of  sport climbers coming through. My trad climbing is - and always has been - much slower, more cautious and safety first, quite conservative in picking routes and pushing grades with a marked reluctance to fall even on what seems pretty solid gear. Of late, having finally shaken off my trad mindset, my sport is by contrast much more dynamic and athletic with falls  accepted as part of 'giving it a go' when trying routes.

But I am sure we can both find plenty of examples to demonstrate our points. These are only fairly clumsy labels.

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Mark Eddy 10 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Really good post Rachel.

Completely agree it's simply bad to be top roping with the rope running directly through the lower off. Obviously it's going to wear out the in-situ gear much quicker, anyone that gives this even a small amount of thought will understand why this is. However, I think many still do it due to a combination of laziness, bad education, lack of education.

To minimise wear on the ring or snapgate, it really shouldn't be used at all for top roping, instead a screw gate goes on the lower bolt hanger and a quickdraw on the upper bolt hanger, it's usually pretty easy to get these equalised. If there is someone wanting to climb the route who doesn't know how to rethread at the anchor, then prior rethreading but with the screwgate and quickdraw in place is a good plan, but with an aim on the climber actually learning how to rethread for themselves as soon as they can as it's an important skill for any sport climber.

The point about dirty ropes raised by Andy is I think also often overlooked and this will clearly cause more rapid wear on the anchors every time they are used to lower off. This is almost certainly as import as the top roping issue in helping preserve anchors in a good state. Dusty ground at the crag, old rope bag, lots of people about so lots of feet to transfer grit / dust into the rope, sloppy rope management at the crag all leads to a minging dirty rope increasing friction and wear at the anchor.

Raising the point as you have been doing with climbers at the crag is a great start and even if you're met with resistance / confusion initially, it's likely to provoke some thought amongst those you talk to and will hopefully set them on a better path in their climbing habits. Keep at it  

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Misha 11 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Sorry was assuming the two bolts aren't connected - I think in the UK more often than not there isn't a connecting chain in place but perhaps it's standard to have a chain at Euro crags (I should really do a Euro sport trip one of these days to find out what all the fuss is about...).

Regarding top roping, interesting to hear there's so much of it going on there. You don't tend to see that on UK sport routes. Probably reflects the fact that people who aren't used to steep climbing and aren't used to falling on sport routes go there. I guess there's some sense in top roping a steep route in preparation for a lead as generally you won't fall as far into space if you fall off, so it's easier to get back on. Having said that, top roping a steep route can be a total pain anyway, might as well lead it! Can always take a couple of prussics and a sling to get back up but that might be beyond people's skill set / they can't be asked.

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Howard J 11 Nov 2019
In reply to Mark Eddy:

> Really good post Rachel.

> Obviously it's going to wear out the in-situ gear much quicker

I think the problem is that it isn't obvious.  Who would think that a soft nylon rope could erode stainless steel, and do it so quickly?  Of course, once you've seen a few badly worn lower-offs then you should become more aware.

The simple fact is that for many Brits at least,climbing on bolts is a rarity. There isn't much sport climbing in the UK, and much of it starts at the harder grades.  Kalymnos in particular sees large numbers of lower-grade trad climbers with little experience of climbing on bolts, and perhaps little interest outside the holiday context.  It is largely ignorance and lack of awareness, 

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Andy Hemsted 11 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

An additional point which hasn't been covered much in this very interesting thread...

.... there is a distinct group of very cautious climbers, and this group is probably more common on holiday crags.

A first group (which includes me, almost all UKC posters and readers, and all 'committed' sport-climbers) enjoy leading, learn various techniques with gear, and are prepared to accept the risks involved with climbing, threading lower-offs etc. We avoid accidents because we know how to tie knots in the ends of our rope, check lower-off set-ups before committing to our partner and the rope, etc etc.

The second group (which includes my wife, and some other folk who enjoy climbing as part of a holiday) do not wish to lead, do not learn any gear techniques except putting-on a harness and tieing a knot, and would prefer not to take the responsibility of threading the bolts at the top of a route.

There is also a third group who prefer not to lead, but are happy to learn how to deal with the various different types of lower-off, and to accept the additional risk involved. I don't think that Penny would be happy with this extra responsibility. If I said that it was necessary then I'd probably lose my excellent holiday climbing partner! She happily belays me on the routes that I want to try....

When Penny first climbed abroad, I hadn't been taught the 'reduce wear' techniques. I would lead a suitably-graded route for her, thread the lower-off, and then Penny would top-rope. Two of us lowering off the fixed gear.

Since I've learnt about the damage being caused by extra lowering-off, I've had two options which avoid extra wear and tear:

a) I set up at the top with my own quickdraw or screwgate, lower-off, then Penny climbs and lowers-off on our gear, then I re-climb to retrieve our hardware.

b) I lead, thread the lower-off, ask to be taken off belay, pull through half the rope, untie, tie a knot in 'my' end, drop the end and abseil with a back-up. Perfectly safe, no wear on the fixed ring. Penny climbs and lowers-off.

I've not seen anyone else using either of these techniques, and I'll admit that I've only recently started using option b) myself...

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planetmarshall 11 Nov 2019
In reply to Andy Hemsted:

> I've not seen anyone else using either of these techniques, and I'll admit that I've only recently started using option b) myself...

c)

Try leading, then thread the rope through a quickdraw, *the lower off* and a screwgate in such a way as to reduce wear on the anchor.

When Penny climbs the route, she only has to unclip the quickdraw and the screwgate. No rethreading is required as you've already done it.

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Rich W Parker 11 Nov 2019
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

Incorrect. You suspect wrong Mr Coyote. It's not such a big deal if, as you say, if it can be avoided. By installing rings instead of gates for example. Canvassing and informing the unaware will only go so far it seems - there's always going to be some people who will just do whatever is the most convenient.

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Andy Hemsted 11 Nov 2019
In reply to planetmarshall:

Yes, this works when at least one of the bolts is well above the lower-off ring. It doesn't work for all lower-off setups.

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planetmarshall 11 Nov 2019
In reply to Andy Hemsted:

> Yes, this works when at least one of the bolts is well above the lower-off ring. It doesn't work for all lower-off setups.

Yes it does presuppose that you can actually construct such an arrangement, but you should be able to cover most cases with some combination of quickdraws and screwgates.

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Fakey Rocks 13 Nov 2019
In reply to rachelpearce01:

Someone asked you to report back from "paradise".... Sounds like you are in climbing hell to me.

There's another more important "lower off" that you seem to be "killing off" that you have forgotten to take into account.

When you ascend up into the atmosphere (lower off) and then you are lowered down again by the pilot to the airport, do you just turn a blind eye to the effects of your flying on global warming, to people losing there homes to rising sea levels and increased levels of disease etc, many wildlife species also becoming extinct due to loss of habitat caused by global warming?

If you think about it then stopping flying might just be one way to help reduce wear on that big lower off, but of course lots of climbers don't know about that because they are just gym climbers and have no time to catch up on the news and stuff, but one day someone finally points it out to them. They then just get arsey and fail to see your point, cos mainly it's just not very important. Hey ho, what's new? Wonder if thing's will ever change....

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jezb1 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Fakey Rocks:

> If you think about it then stopping flying might just be one way to help reduce wear on that big lower off, but of course lots of climbers don't know about that because they are just gym climbers and have no time to catch up on the news and stuff, but one day someone finally points it out to them. They then just get arsey and fail to see your point, cos mainly it's just not very important. Hey ho, what's new? Wonder if thing's will ever change....

You’re assuming the OP got on a plane...

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LeeWood 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Howard J:

> I think the problem is that it isn't obvious.  Who would think that a soft nylon rope could erode stainless steel, and do it so quickly? 

Less obvious perhaps but your soft nylon rope is impregnated with rock-dust after thrashing around at foot of crag  

and metal dust from wear on belay devices

Post edited at 13:28
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Max factor 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Chris Craggs:

see picture of how to preserve the ring (or lower-off krab) - easy as!

> Chris

Great, except in the UK where you get 2 staples (portland) or maybe 2 bolts with lower off rings placed horizontally. Neither joined with a chain and no option to place a draw or karabiner where it can take the load. 

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Carless 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Max factor:

And in that case, you toprope off a screwgate and a quickdraw in the other bolt, or crossed draws, or whatever is safe

And the last one threads & lowers (or even abs)

It's not complicated to avoid toproping off the insitu gear

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Max factor 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Carless:

Well, yes. But the discussion was on how to thread the anchor in such a way as to protect the gear during top roping AND not have the last person needing to thread it.

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Northern Star 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Max factor:

> see picture of how to preserve the ring (or lower-off krab) - easy as!

> Great, except in the UK where you get 2 staples (portland) or maybe 2 bolts with lower off rings placed horizontally. Neither joined with a chain and no option to place a draw or karabiner where it can take the load.


That's great, but if it's a route that's top end of your grade (i.e. a struggle) and the second also wants a go, then it is somewhat reliant on the second being able to finish the route and retreive the quickdraw?  Otherwise up you go again I suppose.

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Carless 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Max factor:

Yep - and I'll be very impressed if someone comes up with a viable solution for the non-ideal lower-offs...

Until then, the last person has to learn to be confident/competent at threading or a competent person has to re-climb and do it

I haven't been to Portland for years. Have they at least put doubled maillons on the staples?

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Offwidth 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Fakey Rocks:

I guess not eveyone gets to match up to your sanctimonious standards. Even Caroline Lucas admits to long haul flights, as her son is currently in the US. On the news two days ago she proposed dealing with the big picture and explicitly said to encourage individual change, but not to blame normal individuals who fly only occasionally, as this is a state problem and blaming individuals could even be counter-productive to the cause... The Greens propose things like: ensuring tax on flying covers carbon offsetting for all; to apply an extra frequent flier tax (for the 1% of the UK who take 20% of the flights or the 10%  who take more than 50% of the flights); incentivise changes to fleets of more fuel efficient aircraft, and not to expand air capacity by building new runways.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/25/1-of-english-residents-take-one-fifth-of-overseas-flights-survey-shows

https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/tr.html

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jezb1 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Carless:

> Yep - and I'll be very impressed if someone comes up with a viable solution for the non-ideal lower-offs...

Easy, put some top roping bolts above the lower off bolts...

*Insert laughing face here*

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JLS 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Carless:

>"I haven't been to Portland for years. Have they at least put doubled maillons on the staples?"

It would seem not. I forget the details but do recall local activists fairly recently suggesting this was a bad idea. I can't understand why you'd not want to add ring to a staple using a maillon. Top roping or not bare staples are going to have a very limited life..

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Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator13 Nov 2019
In reply to Max factor:

> Great, except in the UK where you get 2 staples (portland) or maybe 2 bolts with lower off rings placed horizontally. Neither joined with a chain and no option to place a draw or karabiner where it can take the load. 

Well that's for another discussion - I know there are historical (cost!) reasons for staples in the UK, but the French sorted out the what strikes me as the best system years ago,

Chris

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john arran 13 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

I wouldn't be surprised if, even if every bolt had double maillons on, people would still thread the staples - just to be on the safe side. There's no accounting for selfishness and/or ignorance.

But on a separate note, surely there's an opening in the market for a maillon which has a 90° twist, so you only need one on each bolt. One for JimTitt maybe?

Post edited at 17:14
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Stuart (aka brt) 13 Nov 2019
In reply to john arran:

> But on a separate note, surely there's an opening in the market for a maillon which has a 90° twist, so you only need one on each bolt. One for JimTitt maybe?

There is a 90° twist maillon on the market already. Not cheap. 

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Alex Riley 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Fakey Rocks:

That’s a pretty arsey reply, especially as the op didn’t fly there...

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john arran 13 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Apparently so, yes. But not as spenny as I expected from your reply

https://blackz.fr/en/quick-links-en/2669-twisted-large-opening-en-maillon-rapide.html

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JLS 13 Nov 2019
In reply to john arran:

> Apparently so, yes. But not as spenny as I expected from your reply

But that’s not stainless!  

I think I’d still prefer to see a ring as well as a maillon on glue-in bolts. I reckon having rings that are easily replaceable (by opening the maillon) is the most eco-friendly solution and will get the longest life out of the bolts.

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PaulW 14 Nov 2019
In reply to Andy Hemsted:

I used to climb with a very old school trad climber. On the odd occasions we climbed sport he would always get to the ring, make himself safe, rig an ab and lower down. The concept of doing it any other way baffled him

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john arran 14 Nov 2019
In reply to PaulW:

"rig an ab and lower down"?

The concept of doing it this way baffles me!

;-)

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Andy Hemsted 14 Nov 2019
In reply to john arran:

Perhaps this 'old school trad climber' was concerned about trashing the lower-off!

On the other hand, it was probably because he hadn't bought into the sports-climbing/indoor-climbing assumption that a partner could be trusted to lower safely. In  trad-climbing, a partner is only belaying to save you if you fall; in all other situations, the climber is completely reliant on his/hers own skills, and this goes for descending by abseil.

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john arran 14 Nov 2019
In reply to Andy Hemsted:

I think perhaps you may have missed the contradiction. His message was much clearer than his words

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John Gresty 14 Nov 2019
In reply to PaulW:

I once owned a French guidebook which had a section about how to climb on bolts, and it recommended abseiling rather than lowering. Reduces the load and the wear on the top fixing. 

We were 'old school trad climbers' but with the advent of modern climbing walls where lowering was the norm we soon reverted to lowering off on sports climbs.

I do wonder if the scenario initially described, whereby one person leads followed by multiple top rope ascents by his/her mates will become  the norm and route equippers will need to take this into account.

I have encountered a really dodgy top anchor which  I refused to use, managed to top out, find a belay and bring my mate up, with a subsequent long walk back to the bottom.

John

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Dave Garnett 14 Nov 2019
In reply to Andy Hemsted:

> Perhaps this 'old school trad climber' was concerned about trashing the lower-off!

And perhaps the pitch was more than 25 metres and he had double 25m ropes.  Climbing at Buoux in the early 80s this was commonly the situation.

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Misha 23:14 Thu
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> And perhaps the pitch was more than 25 metres and he had double 25m ropes.  Climbing at Buoux in the early 80s this was commonly the situation.

Admittedly better than lowering off on a 25m rope but that would still leave you jumping to the ground on the last bit ;-)

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Dave Garnett 23:53 Thu
In reply to Misha:

Ah yes, sorry. We did actually have 50m ropes!  

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In reply to rachelpearce01:

Whenever I led a sport climb there were a few people (often my children) who wanted to top-rope the same climb. I would rig a top rope anchor of two slings and four carabiners; one carabiner for each bolt anchor and two for the top rope attachment; chains and other rings ignored. When done, the last climber up (often myself again) would strip the slings and top rope carabiners and rappel from the chains or rings on chains etc, so no frictional wear to the fixed gear at all. Surely this is common practice?

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PaulW 07:57 Fri
In reply to Dave Garnett:

We did sport climb on a pair of half ropes as that was all we had. 40m as I remember.

And i should have written "lower HIMSELF down" Love how meanings can get confused.

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In reply to PaulW:

> I used to climb with a very old school trad climber. On the odd occasions we climbed sport he would always get to the ring, make himself safe, rig an ab and lower down. The concept of doing it any other way baffled him

I occasionally climb with a guy who does it this way to protect the lower off. If everyone did this the lower offs really would last a long time!

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nikoid 09:06 Fri
In reply to PaulW:

"Abseil down" would have been even clearer!

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Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator09:14 Fri
In reply to nikoid:

> "Abseil down" would have been even clearer!


And "abseil" even more so,

Chris

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Toerag 13:01 Fri
In reply to John Stainforth:

> When done, the last climber up (often myself again) would strip the slings and top rope carabiners and rappel from the chains or rings on chains etc, so no frictional wear to the fixed gear at all. Surely this is common practice?

Not when people are on holiday and short of time at a place they may never go to again. There's also just loads of people that haven't been taught properly, or are simply lazy dicks.

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GrahamD 14:07 Fri
In reply to John Stainforth:

> ... rappel from the chains or rings on chains etc, so no frictional wear to the fixed gear at all. Surely this is common practice?

I don't think I've ever seen anyone of any nationality abseiling from a single pitch Euro bolted route.

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Carless 14:12 Fri
In reply to GrahamD:

Happens a fair amount on the North Vosges and SudPfalz sandstone crags

It's encouraged because the sandstone is very abrasive

It also used to be common to have just a single large bolt at the top but these have mostly been replaced or maillons added

Post edited at 14:12
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JLS 14:36 Fri
In reply to John Stainforth:

>"When done, the last climber up (often myself again) would strip the slings and top rope carabiners and rappel from the chains or rings on chains etc, so no frictional wear to the fixed gear at all. Surely this is common practice?"

I think it has been recognised that the number of people that manage to kill themselves trying to do this isn't worth the wear on the metalwork so it is now to be discouraged.

Many of the lower-off we a talking about (Kalymnos and elsewhere) are stainless crabs like indoor walls and are therefore treated like such.  In some ways I think for holiday destinations like Kalymnos it's not unreasonable to expect the vested interests on the island to accept a level responsibility with regard to the upkeep of the routes. If all the restaurants in Masouri added a Euro bolt tax onto every evening meal, I think bolt fund would do ok...

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In reply to JLS:

You make a good point about the safety aspect. It is vitally important, that sport climbers learn the proper procedures for untying safely from the rope when up at the chains, because sooner or later they may find they have to do this, rather than being lowered off.

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jimtitt 17:10 Fri
In reply to JLS:

> >"When done, the last climber up (often myself again) would strip the slings and top rope carabiners and rappel from the chains or rings on chains etc, so no frictional wear to the fixed gear at all. Surely this is common practice?"

> I think it has been recognised that the number of people that manage to kill themselves trying to do this isn't worth the wear on the metalwork so it is now to be discouraged.

> Many of the lower-off we a talking about (Kalymnos and elsewhere) are stainless crabs like indoor walls and are therefore treated like such.  In some ways I think for holiday destinations like Kalymnos it's not unreasonable to expect the vested interests on the island to accept a level responsibility with regard to the upkeep of the routes. If all the restaurants in Masouri added a Euro bolt tax onto every evening meal, I think bolt fund would do ok...


When development started in Kalymnos it was decided all lower-offs would be clip-in to reduce the accident rate as the rescue and medical facilities were non-existent. We know that ALL sports routes should be equipped this way on economic grounds but the people directly paying the bills for accidents aren't the same as those paying for the equipment.

The issue of who is going to fund maintaining holiday climbing destinations has yet to be satifactorily adressed!

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john arran 17:17 Fri
In reply to jimtitt:

If you're up for a challenge, I'm sure there would be plenty of demand if you could design a replaceable sheath for the bottom of the lower-off krab - maybe even pulley-like - that could be simply clipped into existing fixed lower-off krabs and cheaply replaced as needed.

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jimtitt 18:41 Fri
In reply to john arran:

I looked into this a few years back but there's a few problems like all different krabs out there, how to make them safe when they wear through and so on. And then making something cheap enough but still give the same profit as selling a new krab because that is the alternative. For the popular manufacturers krabs there's the legal problems as well!

Since something like a pigtail is only about €5-€6 anyway it's going to be a hard sell!

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john arran 18:47 Fri
In reply to jimtitt:

Fair enough. I suppose you've also considered designing a pulley into the lower-off kab (or pigtail) in the first place so it lasts far longer? I'm guessing that may either be prohibitively expensive or proprietary technology?

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jimtitt 19:33 Fri
In reply to john arran:

Even less friction at the top anchor? It would be carnage!

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Alkis 22:38 Fri
In reply to jimtitt:

I remember topping out Arabesque in El Chorro a few years back to find the anchor having a krab that had been “reinforced” by someone welding a piece of metal on it.

Something less home made would not be a bad idea! 

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jimtitt 05:42 Sat
In reply to Alkis:

> I remember topping out Arabesque in El Chorro a few years back to find the anchor having a krab that had been “reinforced” by someone welding a piece of metal on it.

> Something less home made would not be a bad idea! 


The reality is different when it comes to what people say they would like on the internet and what they actually buy. I sell karabiners, rings and  (used to sell) pigtails in both 10mm and 12mm  material and the 10mm outsells 12mm by a factor of about 100.

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