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set-up(s) for top-rope soloing?
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By Cotton
Jun 17, 2012

I've never top-rope soloed and trying to learn. I'm not sure what all gear I'll need and having trouble finding a resource that teaches based on my current gear.

Other than standard climbing gear (locking biners, ATC, slings), here's what I'm working with:
-Petzl Mini-Traxion
-Grigri 2
-Right/Left Ascenders


Anyone know of any video tutorials or website links that teach top-rope soloing with this particular gear (or that would help me know what additional gear I need for a set-up that uses what I already have)? I know some people back their set-ups up, which would be good for me b/c I'm heavy (215-220lbs). Cheers.


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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Jun 17, 2012
You stay away from mah pig!

I'm by no means an expert in TR soloing, but I've always used a gri gri on a single fixed line. You usually need to add a bit of weight (not more than 5 lbs or so) to the end of your fixed single rope so that the rope feeds smoothly as you climb up; I either tie a full water bottle to it, or sometimes just coil the rope into a hanging lump right off the ground. Sometimes, the rope will not feed completely effortless through the gri gri, and you have to stop and pull it manually, but it's not any hard than stopping and clipping on a lead route.

A few things to watch for: since you're only attached to the grigri (and thus the rope) with one locking biner, it's worth it to get one with the sleeve that covers the gate so that the movement of climbing does not inadvertently unlock it. I have also not tried TR soloing with a grigri2, so I'm not sure how diffferent it would work. I also usually do not use backup knots or anything like that, but I've seen some elaborate setups that others use, including a separate fixed dynamic line that has bites tied into it every 6 feet that you clip and unclip as you move up. Seems like overkill to me, though.

In the end, though, just find a steep route, do a single rope rap off of it on your grigri, with backup knots tied, and try climbing up a few moves. You'll figure out quickly how the grigri feeds, and what works for you.


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By Phill T
Jun 17, 2012

I use an ascender and a cinch, but your minitrax would work fine in place of the cinch. Tie a figure 8 in the middle of your rope and clip this into your anchor. you now have 2 independent strands running down your line. make yourself a chest harness with a sling and clip the top of your ascender to this. Clip the bottom of the ascender directly through your tie in points with a big locker. The idea is to have it nice and steady right at your chest and not able to flop around, a little time fidgeting with different size biners/slings etc will find the right distances for you.

Attach the ascender to one rope, attach the microtrax (which is clipped to your belay loop with its own biner) to the other rope. The ascender should keep all of the slack out of the system and be totally hands free, the trax will be trailing you around thigh level and is your backup. The rope its on wont really be weighted, so even if you do somehow manage to sever your 'main' line from rubbing at the top, your backup line will be fresh. I tie a water bottle or shoes or something to the bottom of each rope to help em feed well right from the get go.

The only reason I like the cinch over the trax is you just need to disengage your ascender and you can rap straight from your cinch which is already set up and good to go. You might be able to use your grigri in place of it, but I dont think they self feed nearly as well as a cinch. Havnt used one for TR solo so I couldnt say for sure tho.


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By KevinF
From Granby, CT
Jun 17, 2012

www.petzl.com/en/outdoor/product-experience/self-belay-solo->>>


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By Ryan Nevius
From The Range of Light
Jun 17, 2012
Mt. Agassiz



+1


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By bearbreeder
Jun 17, 2012



+2


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By agd
Jun 17, 2012
alaska

Anyone else notice that te Petzl page says ALWAYS USE A HELMET, yet the illustration of the climber doesnt wear one? Lol.


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By agd
Jun 17, 2012
alaska

Be careful with bouncing/swinging around a lot on a fixed rope as shown on the Petzl page -- depending on the rope/rock you could get a sawing action. One of the rope companies has a video showing that happen...


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By Dana Bartlett
From CT
Jun 17, 2012

There are a few good threads about this - with some photos - on Supertopo.


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By NorCalNomad
From San Francisco
Jun 17, 2012

alexdavis wrote:
Be careful with bouncing/swinging around a lot on a fixed rope as shown on the Petzl page -- depending on the rope/rock you could get a sawing action. One of the rope companies has a video showing that happen...


Petzl has a video on it


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By Ben Beard
From Superior, AZ
Jun 17, 2012
roo, my only son, the stare that takes down a herd of 'stock

static lines are great for TR solo, but it depends on the length of your route and your backup. If you're doing a long enough route, a static for your main line and a dynamic for your backup is great. If you're mostly on 30 meter and less routes, probably a burly dynamic is your rope. The advantage of doing a route that is 1/2 rope length (depending on your rope length, 50-70m), is that you can use 1 rope for your main line and your backup. Some people go 1 (or 2) line (s) with 2 devices, one device acting as a backup. Other people go with 1 device on their main line and use a locker+knot (keep changing knots as you climb) on their backup (dynamic) line.
Static is nice if you are going to be hanging a bit and if the rock is sharp enough to rough up your rope. Dynamic is nice because you could, depending on route length, use it as a main line and backup line (if you only wanted one device), but you'll drop a bit during every hang.
I like using a Petzl ascender to TR solo, because they glide so smoothly (don't need hardly any weight on the rope end), and they have other uses. The downside is that they are a bit bulky and yes, Petzl no longer recommends them for TR solo because the cam control piece could be left "open". Lot of people like the mini-traxion. I like using the locking biners that have the ability to limit cross loading (ex. bd gridlock), buy one!
Just make sure you are able to go on rappel if you need to back off and that you have a back up system that is suitable (dynamic most likely).


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By Cotton
Jun 18, 2012

Thanks for the info, everyone. I figured this would be the case, but I'm gathering that there's no "one right way" to do this? Gear you're working with, rope length, and distance of route would be primary factors influencing set-up?

The Petzl link is really helpful. Hoping to experiment with a set-up after work one day this week.


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By mitchy
From nunya gotdamn business.
Jun 18, 2012

Some good advice here , check the taco for some photos or google top rope soloing. I use two mini-traxions, one on a sling used as a chest harness and one on my belay loop. I've never had a problem with this set-up. I took it from DMT on supertopo and have climbed hundreds of pitches this way.


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By mitchy
From nunya gotdamn business.
Jun 18, 2012

There isn't just one way to do this. I tie a fig. 8 with ears and climb on a single strand and have both mini's attached. I've fallen on this set as well with no problems. I also clip the rope to my back pack to eliminate me having to pull the rope through the mini's.


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By NYClimber
From New York
Jun 26, 2012
Awesome slab climb right out of the water! Rogers Rock, Lake George, NY. Summer 2013.

Ben Beard wrote:
static lines are great for TR solo, but it depends on the length of your route and your backup. If you're doing a long enough route, a static for your main line and a dynamic for your backup is great. If you're mostly on 30 meter and less routes, probably a burly dynamic is your rope. The advantage of doing a route that is 1/2 rope length (depending on your rope length, 50-70m), is that you can use 1 rope for your main line and your backup. Some people go 1 (or 2) line (s) with 2 devices, one device acting as a backup. Other people go with 1 device on their main line and use a locker+knot (keep changing knots as you climb) on their backup (dynamic) line. Static is nice if you are going to be hanging a bit and if the rock is sharp enough to rough up your rope. Dynamic is nice because you could, depending on route length, use it as a main line and backup line (if you only wanted one device), but you'll drop a bit during every hang. I like using a Petzl ascender to TR solo, because they glide so smoothly (don't need hardly any weight on the rope end), and they have other uses. The downside is that they are a bit bulky and yes, Petzl no longer recommends them for TR solo because the cam control piece could be left "open". Lot of people like the mini-traxion. I like using the locking biners that have the ability to limit cross loading (ex. bd gridlock), buy one! Just make sure you are able to go on rappel if you need to back off and that you have a back up system that is suitable (dynamic most likely).


Thanks Ben for the info....I have been playing abound with the above system for some easy roped solo climbs myself using the rope doubled for crags less than 90 ft using a GriGri 2 as my device, and the 2nd rope with knots every so-many feet as my backup. The second knotted rope I have found can be used as a rap line in the event I need to back off of it, or - just rap down on the fixed dynamic rope I am on if desired. I use a 11mm static line for my anchor (as in top rope set ups) and a 10.5mm dynamic rope for climbing. The GriGri is attached to the waist harness with a licking 'biner of course, and a Rapide link onto a 1" tubular webbing chest 'harness' where the modified GriGi attaches both to the waist harness and the chest harness allowing the rope to feed thru easily wit just a tug form my hand....


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By NYClimber
From New York
Jun 27, 2012
Awesome slab climb right out of the water! Rogers Rock, Lake George, NY. Summer 2013.

So this question comes to mind then....

How much more dangerous is doing this versus climbing on a top rope with belayer? Sounds like a stupid question I am sure - and of course - having a belayer IS the 'preferred choice' always - but for some of us - like myself - here's the deal...

I am a Trad climber - climbing around a 5.8 level and have done a lot of top roping and some leading working on increasing my skills and techniques mainly.

I am a nurse who works a odd schedule versus all my climbing partners, etc. I am off when they are on, and vice verse. So I am finding myself either having to look at alternate methods to do some climbing of local crags that are around 60 ft or less. I have been following a lot of posts on roped solo climbing with the GriGri and other devices. I always use a GriGri to belay when doing any type of climbing and just started playing around with the GriGri and various methods of climbing EASY roped solo short climbs with a fixed rope from above (10.5mm rope actually) with a 10.5 back up line as well with overhand knots every 6 ft as well to clip in the harness as a 'back up' to the GriGri at the waist.

So - is this a suicidal idea at best - or actually a pretty straight forward method?

I was this vid and thought it was pretty interesting and straight forward?

Thoughts? I am a trauma RN and have seen plenty as well as having once been an EMT as well. I love to climb and don't want to have to not be out climbing when I am off from work and have to give up the sport and not be out climbing - but I don't wanna be stupid or irresponsible either...

PS This post isn't a 'trolling' ploy either....



GriGri Self Belay


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By Jake Jones
From The Eastern Flatlands
Jun 27, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

Here's what I do:

If the route is 25m or less-
Tie either an 8 bunny ears, or two 8s on a bight at the center of the rope.

Two anchors; two bolts; or one bomber gear anchor and clip the two loops into separate locking biners at the master point. Weight the ends of the rope at the base of the route- various non-intuitive ways to do this.

So, you have one rope, two lines anchored from the top, and weighted at the bottom.

I use a sling for a chest harness. Nylon is a little thicker and more comfy than dyneema. Various ways to do this as well. I take a Petzl Basic, or a regular ascender (the Basic seems to fit the best with the least amount of play) and attach it to the chest sling via one locker. I attach the other end to my belay loop with a locker. There is almost no force on the chest sling in a fall. It's mainly to keep the ascender in place at your chest instead of letting it feed at or below your belay loop (where in a fall, it will end up at your chest/lower ribs anyway, putting more force on the rope with a toothed device). Voila, you're on belay.

For the other rope, I girth hitch a sling through the tie-ins and put attach a Mini Traxion with a locking oval. This is my backup.

I've TR soloed on several different configurations and I like this one the best because:

It's redundant

No knots

No manually pulling slack

Minimal fall length

Fairly convenient once it's set up; easy to transition to rappel because of the two lines. If you want to anchor, use the sling that the Mini Trax is on. Or, if you need to rap mid-route, you can also use the girth hitched sling for that as well. You're on belay the entire time.

Cons to this system:

Requires more gear

Transition to rappel takes longer (as opposed to just using a GriGri on one line)so running laps is still possible, but not as ideal

Takes a little longer to rig

Belayed by toothed devices as opposed to an auto-assist device that pinches the rope and is much less likely to damage the sheath of your rope

I've tried single line with a GriGri and Cinch, Single line with ascender tying backup knots, double line with a GriGri tying backup knots on the second line- the system above works the best for me. I use it mainly to headpoint gear routes that real climbers warm up on. YMMV.


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By NYClimber
From New York
Jun 27, 2012
Awesome slab climb right out of the water! Rogers Rock, Lake George, NY. Summer 2013.

Thanks for the info!

I went out this AM to test the method using the GriGri as I sated above. I was sure to climb like 3 grades below my best so it would be easy and I could test the system.

Gear used: (all climbs were less than 60 ft

  • GriGri 2
  • Chest Harness made from 1" tubular webbing w/Rapide oval steel screw gate
  • Rope from above - 10.4mm x 60

Top anchor fabricated from 11mm static line, with 2 Figure 8's tied into midpoint for redundancy of D locker. Two 1/2" bolts mounted at the top were used for anchors with a back up boulder with a double length runner wrapped over it.

The 10.4 rope was knotted at mid-point with a Fig 8. One side had overhand loops tied in about every 7 ft. The other side was the 'climbing' side where the GriGri was used on.

The system worked flawlessly. As I advanced I simply took out slack from my fixed rope thru the GriGri. Very time I advanced to a secure foothold, ledge, or good foot crack I clipped in via one of the overhand loops in the 2nd rope to my harness. Only when I clipped into the next highest loop to my harness did I undo the previous lower knot from my harness. This way in case the GriGri failed I wouldn't have fallen too far until one of the overhand loops/knots caught me preventing a fall all the way to the deck.

I found that I climbed with increased focus - perhaps because of the serious of the risks. Not sure. Climbed very well.

I did 3 climbs to test out the system - 2 diagonal crack climbs and 1 vertical climb. On the 3rd climb my arms were too pumped to complete - so I bailed out - using the GriGri as my descender and 1 by 1 removing the clipped in overhand loops/knots as I rapped. I did not un-clip from the higher knot until I had the next lower know clipped into my harness - being I have never rapped with a GriGri and wasn't sure how it would work in relation to a ATC. I must say - rapping via the GriGri is nice as one can control the speed of the decent - or stop completely as well.

I have to say, it worked extremely well and was smoother and easier to use that I anticipated....

I was sure to check, recheck, and check again all my anchors, knots, runners, 'biners, rigging - naturally - being pretty paranoid about climbing roped solo for the first time. My original plan was to test out this new system with a friend belaying just in case I found it not to my liking, etc. - but that wasn't an option today...


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By Jake Jones
From The Eastern Flatlands
Jun 27, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

Michael Urban wrote:
As I advanced I simply took out slack from my fixed rope thru the GriGri. Very time I advanced to a secure foothold, ledge, or good foot crack I clipped in via one of the overhand loops in the 2nd rope to my harness. Only when I clipped into the next highest loop to my harness did I undo the previous lower knot from my harness.


This is one of the main reasons I don't use a GriGri and knots. I like being able work moves without having to worry about pulling slack out, or clipping into pre-arranged knots. If everything, including your backup, feeds automatically hands free, then you can get on stuff that's at your limit and work it without worrying about falling before you can pull slack or clip the next knot.

If I'm mock leading (headpointing) and trying to figure gear out and finding good stances to place, all the slack-pulling and knot-clipping is too much. To each his own. As long as you're safe and you're having fun, that's what's really important.

Did you weight your rope, and if so, how did your GriGri2 feed? Did you have to manually pull slack?


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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Jun 27, 2012
tanuki

Here is a good post on solo top-roping on Supertopo.

www.supertopo.com/a/How-to-Set-Up-a-Self-Belay-for-a-Solo-To>>>


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By NYClimber
From New York
Jun 27, 2012
Awesome slab climb right out of the water! Rogers Rock, Lake George, NY. Summer 2013.

Jake Jones wrote:
This is one of the main reasons I don't use a GriGri and knots. I like being able work moves without having to worry about pulling slack out, or clipping into pre-arranged knots. If everything, including your backup, feeds automatically hands free, then you can get on stuff that's at your limit and work it without worrying about falling before you can pull slack or clip the next knot. If I'm mock leading (headpointing) and trying to figure gear out and finding good stances to place, all the slack-pulling and knot-clipping is too much. To each his own. As long as you're safe and you're having fun, that's what's really important. Did you weight your rope, and if so, how did your GriGri2 feed? Did you have to manually pull slack?


Jake,
I did not weight either rope and of course it was a PITA having to keep pulling the slack thru the GriGri. I'm open to other ideas such as yours - this is my first stab at roped soloing and being I already had a GriGri - but no ascenders to-date, I figured I'd try this method out. Having to pre-tie back up knots was a PITA as well....

I am considering your system at this time as well...

Thanks for the good info everyone!


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By NYClimber
From New York
Jun 27, 2012
Awesome slab climb right out of the water! Rogers Rock, Lake George, NY. Summer 2013.

Thanks NC Rock Climber for the article link. Printing it out now to read and save.


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By NYClimber
From New York
Jun 27, 2012
Awesome slab climb right out of the water! Rogers Rock, Lake George, NY. Summer 2013.

So Jake,
You're confident that both the Ascender and the Traxion BOTH would never fail or come undone?


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By Aric Datesman
Jun 27, 2012

Late to the party, but FWIW I use a Minitrax for TR Solo. Works great, especially in conjunction with a Cinch since it can be rigged onto a loaded line should you fall. Found the Ushba and Kong Duck to feed just as well in my limited playing around with it, but stuck with the Minitrax since it was habit at that point. Also Lead Solo is a completely different ballgame, so throw all this out if that's where you're headed... In that case Joe Healey's method has worked for me, but may not work for you. Check RC if you want details on it.


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By Jake Jones
From The Eastern Flatlands
Jun 27, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

Michael Urban wrote:
So Jake, You're confident that both the Ascender and the Traxion BOTH would never fail or come undone?



Nothing is ever 100%. I can say that my backup has never been deployed and the sheaths on the two ropes that I normally use for TR solo are in good shape.

With the ascender situated at my chest, the only distance I ever fall is because of rope stretch- which means I'm putting as little force on the rope with a toothed device as possible. I use two lockers for the Basic and an oval locker and a girth hitch through the two tie-in points for the Mini Trax, so I'm fairly confident that everything is bomber. I've been using this for a while and it seems like the best system for what I want to accomplish.

Each different method/device has pros and cons. People have different preferences depending on what they want to accomplish while solo TRing.

You're doing the right thing though. Try what's out there if you're confident you can do it safely and know the weak points of each system, and you'll find what you like the best and what fits your purposes.


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Jun 27, 2012

I first tried TR soloing with a Cinch on a weighted rope. Still had to pull slack through. What a pain. Then I read the threads on using two Mini-Traxions on a weighted rope. Works much better. "Tracks" (feeds) much easier, without having to pull slack through so I can work harder routes. I don't use any additional backups with this because I think it's unlikely both would fail or disengage. Know the risks.


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