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TradLeadClimbingSchool

Skills Review

All TLCS students must demonstrate proficiency in the skills listed on this page. Some of the techniques listed are too risky for us to encourage you to practice without supervision. We will allow you to practice those skills during the review sessions with a backup belay.

Skills to practice before the review sessions:
Knots | Double Checking | Belaying | Verbal Signals
Skills covered during the review sessions (*practicing these without supervision is not recommended):
Rappel Backup* | Ascending* | Traversing* | Anchor Testing* | Sport Climbing Anchors* | Equipment List
^top | Knots | Double Checking | Belaying | Verbal Signals | Rappel Backup* | Ascending* | Traversing* | Anchor Testing* | Sport Climbing Anchors* | Equipment List
 

Knots

Some of these knots are typically tied with rope, with webbing, or both. Practice tying them with several materials.

slideshow/video/ [ones marked with a *= not required for this course]

Knot

used for

Autoblock

Rappel backup

butterfly coil

Rope management - rope as 'backpack'

clove hitch

Anchors

clove

 

clove - one handed

*Please practice this one*

double fisherman

Prusik loops, alternative rope coil backpack tie-off

double overhand

Stopper

double overhand

(or triple overhand)

Figure 8 on a bight

Anchors

figure 8 on a bight

 

Figure 8 retrace

Tie-in

girth hitch

Rappel anchor setup, sling-to-belay loop attachment

Klemheist

Ascender (single strand or double strand), load transfer to escape belay

Klemheist 01

 

Klemheist 02

 

Mule knot

belay escape - can be tied and untied while under load

mule

 

mule untying

 

Munter hitch

Emergency belay/rappel, load transfer, backpack hauling

munter

 

munter02

 

*Munter to Clove

 

*Auto-Lock munter

 

overhand

Joining rap ropes, cordelettes

overhand

 

overhand on a bight

Anchors

Prusik

Ascender, Traverse protection, emergency anchor backup

prusik

 

shorten a 24" runner

Gear management

shorten 24" runner

shorten a 48" runner

shorten 48" runner

Water knot

Rappel anchor setup, webbing management

square knot

Rope management - for rope backpack tie-off

Reverso auto-lock setup

Definitely required

*flat fisherman

Alternative rappel knot, cordelette joining. Easy to untie, can't capsize.

*double loop figure 8

Two-bolt anchor

*equalizing figure 8

Three piece anchor

*butterfly knot

Emergency rope management - to isolate damaged portion of rope

*butterfly

* in-line figure 8 loop

similar to butterfly

* bowline

Emergency -can be tied with one hand

* bowline on a bight

bolt anchors, similar to double figure 8 on a bight

*Redirected Lower

more comfortable than lowering someone off your harness

   
   
^top | Knots | Double Checking | Belaying | Verbal Signals | Rappel Backup* | Ascending* | Traversing* | Anchor Testing* | Sport Climbing Anchors* | Equipment List

Double Checking

These items should be inspected every time a climber begins a pitch. Keep in mind that there are plenty of other actions during a climb that deserve the same level of scrutiny from the entire climbing team where possible (anchors, rappel stations, gear inventory, etc.)

 

tie-in knot

rope through leg loops and swami belt, figure 8 knot dressed with a safety knot and sufficient tail

harness buckles

Buckles doubled back on swami belt and leg loops

harness fit

snug in case climber gets flipped upside-down

belay device

device threaded according to manufacturer

carabiner

locked and through belay loop (or both belt and leg loops, if applicable)

helmet

snug on the head (not in the backpack)

^top | Knots | Double Checking | Belaying | Verbal Signals | Rappel Backup* | Ascending* | Traversing* | Anchor Testing* | Sport Climbing Anchors* | Equipment List

Belaying

 

Brake hand:

All four fingers gripped around the rope with the thumb across the rope, pressing down on the fingers.

Ambidextrous belaying:

You should be able to belay with left or right hand. An awkward belay station or an injury could make this necessary.

Switching brake hand grip:

 

  1. maintain a proper brake hand grip while the opposite hand grips the brake side of the rope.
  2. Pause for 1 second with both hands firmly gripping the rope.
  3. Switch the original brake hand from palm up to palm down.
  4. Pause for 1 second with both hands firmly gripping the rope.
  5. Release the opposite hand and continue to belay with the original hand in its new orientation.

[Use the same procedure to reverse the hand orientation]

Changing belayers:

 

Example: Fred is belaying and wants to relinquish the belay to Sue.

  1. While Fred is belaying, Sue will set up to belay using the brake side of the rope below Fred's belay device.
  2. When Sue has correctly assembled her gear to belay, she will visually double check the system for errors, and then inform Fred that she has the climber on belay and that he can now take the climber off belay.
  3. Fred will then visually check to see if Sue has correctly assembled her gear to belay. If she has, Fred will inform her that he is now relinquishing the belay to her, and disassemble his belaying gear

Putting on a jacket while belaying:

 

 

While keeping a correct brake hand grip, using your feeling hand and your teeth only, remove your rain jacket from it's stuff sack and put it on, zipped up to your neck, with the hood on over your helmet.

Leg wrap:

Once a leg wrap is completed, the brake hand can be freed to complete other tasks. Leg wraps will be used several times while qualifying for trad school.
A leg wrap is a secure anchor point only if the rope first goes through your belay / rappel device. Simply wrapping the rope around your leg without threading the rope through your device does not constitute a secure anchor point.
Before you begin this procedure it is critical that your brake hand grips the rope directly under your belay / rappel device with a secure brake hand grip. You must utilize a secure brake hand grip the entire time, and perform this whole procedure with your feeling hand only.
The following procedure indicates how to secure the brake side of the rope using a leg wrap in a way that the force of gravity cannot undo the leg wrap:

  1. Wrap the brake side of the rope around your upper thigh five times.
  2. Drape the rope (the rope that is hanging down below the five wraps that are around your thigh) over the shoulder that is opposite of the leg with the rope wrapped around it. A detailed description of the path the rope must follow is listed below:
  3. The rope will come from your leg.
  4. Up across your chest (between your chest and your belay device) diagonally.
  5. Over the shoulder that is opposite of the leg with the rope wrapped around it.
  6. And then down your back. *suggested option: If the rope is weighing heavy on your shoulder causing discomfort, you may elect to allow the rope to fall from your shoulder and rest across your lower stomach and / or the swami belt of your harness.
  7. After visually checking to see that you have done this correctly you may release your brake hand.

Important note for removing a leg wrap: When it becomes time to undo your leg wrap, it is critical that one of your hands securely grips the rope directly under your belay / rappel device with a secure brake hand grip before you begin removing the rope from your shoulder, and subsequently unwrapping the rope from your leg. Slow down and think before you start removing the rope from your shoulder: Beginning the removal of the rope from over the shoulder before grasping the rope with the brake hand has been a very common mistake in the past.

^top | Knots | Double Checking | Belaying | Verbal Signals | Rappel Backup* | Ascending* | Traversing* | Anchor Testing* | Sport Climbing Anchors* | Equipment List

Verbal Climbing Signals

 

In the following climbing signal definitions, the belayer is a female, and the climber is a male.

"Belay On (name)?" When a climber gives the signal "belay on (name)", he is asking his belaying partner if she has him on belay. This signal is infrequently (or never) used, however, you must know how to use it for acceptance into trad school. If the belayer has already given the "on belay (name)" signal described in the next paragraph, you will skip this signal.

"On Belay (name)" - When a belayer gives the signal "on belay (name)", she is telling her climbing partner that he is on belay. Critical: you must have your partner on belay with a correct brake hand grip before you give this signal.

"Climbing (name)" - When a climber gives the signal "climbing (name)" he is telling his belaying partner that he will now begin climbing.

"Climb On (name)" - When a belayer gives the signal "climb on (name)" she is telling her climbing partner that he may now begin climbing.

"Up Rope (name)" - When a climber gives the signal "up rope (name)" he is telling his belaying partner to remove the excess slack from the rope. This does not mean pull the rope tight.

"Take (name)" - When a climber gives the signal "take (name)" he is telling his belaying partner to remove all of the slack from the rope, and tighten the rope as much as possible so all of the stretch has been removed from it. (Note that the signal "take" will be used in lieu of the signal "tension" in trad school.)

"Lower Me (name)" - When a climber gives the signal "lower me (name)" he is telling his belaying partner to let the rope slip slowly and in control through her brake hand and lower him to the ground / belay station. Described in further detail subsequently.

"That's Me (name)" - When the rope has become tight against his harness because the belayer on the ledge above has pulled all of the slack out of it, the person below that is about to second the route calls "that's me (name)" so the belayer above will know that she does not need to remove any more slack, and can now place the climber below on belay.

"Slack (name)" - When a climber gives the signal "slack (name)" he is telling his belaying partner to pay out some rope.

"Falling (name)" - When a climber gives the signal "falling (with or without his partner's name)" he is warning his belaying partner that he is falling, or is about to fall. This signal warns the belayer to take the appropriate action, whether that is locking off her brake hand, removing any excess slack, or positioning / preparing herself for a dynamic belay. It is appropriate for the belayer to prepare to catch a fall even if she doesn't hear her name.

"Off Belay (name)" - When a climber gives the signal "off belay (name)" he is telling his belaying partner that she may now begin the process of terminating his belay. Danger: Do not attempt to utilize this signal until you have read the instructions on how to use it on the subsequent pages.

"Belay Off (name)" - When a belayer gives the signal "belay off (name)" she is telling her climbing partner that she still has her brake hand on the rope, and will now begin the process of terminating his belay. Danger: Do not attempt to utilize this signal until you have read the instructions on how to use it on the subsequent pages.

"On Rappel" (without your partners name) - When anyone in the area gives the signal "on rappel" he or she is warning everyone below that a rappeller from above is about to descend a rope.

"Off Rappel (name)" - When a rappeller in the area gives the signal "off rappel (name)" he or she is telling the people above that they may now begin rappelling. This signal must be given after the rappeller has removed their rappel device and prusik from the rope.

"ROCK!" (without your partner's name) - When anyone in the area shouts the signal "ROCK!" he or she is warning everyone in the area to watch out for falling objects (not just rocks). If you hear someone yell "ROCK!", protect yourself from the falling object, and then start yelling "ROCK!" yourself so other's in the area that may not have heard the initial signal will have an opportunity to protect themselves as well. Yell this one loud, you could save a life.

"Rope" (without your partner's name) - When anyone in the area gives the signal "rope" he or she is warning everyone below to watch out for a rope that is about to be thrown from above. Give the signal "rope" BEFORE you throw the rope, wait until the people below are looking up at you, and then throw it.


The concept of communicating with your climbing partner is very simple. While there are several ways to communicate, what is most important to remember is that there must be a positive connection between yourself and your partner. So positive that you are certain you know exactly what your partner needs you to do.
You must decide how you are going to communicate before leaving the ground. You and your partner may decide to use verbal signals, rope tugs, radios, or even waving. Any of these, or even your own system is fine, just as long as you leave absolutely no chance of a misunderstanding between you and the person on the other end of your rope.
If you climb long enough, inevitably you are going to find yourself in a situation where you have lost communication with your partner. If this happens, there are ways to be in tune with what tasks to accomplish next, and while we have not written about these in this manual, we will discuss them with you in trad school should you qualify. For now, as an applicant, to be admitted to trad school we require you to be an expert at both commanding and obeying all of the verbal climbing signals and rope tug signals subsequently listed.

 

Rope Tugs

Note: These rope tug signals are not universal. If you have a new climbing partner you will have to explain the meaning of each one of the signals to them before you climb. You cannot assume that they will be able to understand or respond to these signals, since they do not appear in any publication or climbing manual other than this one. When climbing in the future, Do not assume your partner knows these signals. You and your partner must personally establish which rope tug signals you will be using before you leave the ground.

If you are tugging from above, start with your arm extended all the way down with your hand by your thigh, and then pull the rope your full arm's length up over your head. Then, pause for a second and return the rope to the starting position. Repeat this procedure as many times as is necessary. You are striving for long, uniform pulls so your partner can't mistake your rope tug signals for the way a rope normally moves when someone is leading on it. You may elect to use both arms to make it easier to pull.
If you are tugging from below, grasp the rope and give a good firm pull or pulls so your partner can't mistake your rope tug signals for the way a rope normally moves when someone is seconding on it.

 

Number of tugs

Given by

Meaning

Reasons for this number of tugs

1

Seconding climber

'Take'

This signal is normally given when the second is about to fall and / or when he is in a desperate situation. One tug is used to signal take since it requires the least amount of effort, and it is the fastest.

2

Seconding climber

'Up rope' (or 'Climbing')

Since up rope is called when there is too much slack which increases the length and consequently the danger of a fall, the second will need to give this signal with a minimal amount of effort. Two tugs are the second to fastest, and the second to easiest signal to give, which makes it a good choice for up rope.

3

Seconding climber

'Slack'

The seconding climber will normally not be in an emergency situation when he needs slack; therefore, the longer and more difficult three tugs are used.

4

Belayer from above

'On belay'

Since the belayer above is now anchored and is not in a desperate situation, she can take the time to give the longer four tugs to signal On belay.


While belaying the leader, you cannot use rope tug communication.
The seconding climber must never tug on the rope for any reason until they are positive their partner above has completely established their belay station anchor. The second can only use rope tugs once they have received the four tugs from above indicating that they have been placed on belay. Doing otherwise can pull the climber above off the wall.

 

When using verbal climbing signals, yelling your signal loudly and clearly followed by your partner's name is very effective, and is all you will need to do to communicate.
Important exception: Because it is so critical that there is no chance of a misunderstanding, in addition to the importance of the signals "off belay (name)" "belay off (name)" being shouted loudly and clearly, both members of the climbing team must also establish eye contact with each other while implementing these two signals.
Some climbers call their partner's name first, followed by the signal as in "Sue, slack" because they want their partner to be alerted first, with 100% of their attention focused on them (the climber), before hearing and having to respond to the signal.
Other climbers call the signal first, followed by their partner's name as in "Slack Sue". A good example of the advantage of this method is; in a situation where there is visual contact between the leader and the belayer, if the leader needs slack to make a desperate clip when every second counts, the belayer can immediately begin feeding rope the instant she hears the first word "slack".
The examples of verbal climbing signals in this manual are done with the signal first, and the name second, however, the order in which you call your signals and names is up to you. Either order is acceptable for admission to trad school. What is critical is that you must use your partner's name when signaling so your partner will know it is you who is calling the signal. Failure to use your partner's name can place the lives of everyone within earshot in danger. Imagine the tragedy that would follow if three teams were lead climbing in the same vicinity at the same time, and one of the climbers reached the top, shouted "off belay" (without a name) and then all three belayers, assuming it was their partner that called the signal, took their partners off belay.

If you have forgotten your partner's name and you have the presence of mind to ask your partner what their name is BEFORE YOU BEGIN to call your signal you will not be penalized in any way by your trad school examiners and instructors.

Do not add any meaningless words to your signals

Another critical point about using all verbal climbing signals is you must call out your signal only without adding any meaningless words that can serve to do nothing but confuse your partner. Adding extra words to your signals will constitute failure on that signal.
Let's discuss this further. Using the example above, let's pretend that Fred is at the top of a route and wants Sue to lower him. Being in a friendly talkative mood, instead of using standardized climbing signals, Fred calls out "take Sue OK?" "All right, lower me Sue, thanks a lot."
First Fred said "take Sue OK?" By adding "OK" to the end of his signal, he has added a word that has a final syllable that is annunciated the same as the final syllable in the signal "Sue off belay". Think about it, these sentences could sound alike depending upon the background noise, the distance the climber is from the belayer, and other circumstances. Sound it out for yourself: The end of "take Sue, OK" rhymes with the end of "Sue, off belay". Scenario's like this, adding the ambiguous "OK" to a signal, has been the reason for numerous fallen climbers. While Fred has absolutely nothing to gain by adding "OK", he could lose his life because now, when he is about to lower and needs his belayer the most, she could believe that he wants his belay terminated.
The next thing Fred said was "all right, lower me Sue, thanks a lot." Sue could be a hundred feet below him, who knows what all that gibberish could sound like once it reaches her ears. The word at the end "lot" has the same noun as rock, the annunciation is similar; "LOT" - "ROCK". Sue might now think that an eight pound bomb is hurtling towards her head and start frantically stumbling over talus, backpacks, and other obstacles to get out of harm's way. She could trip and fracture her brake hand which puts her partner's life at risk. Adding a bunch of meaningless words to your signals puts both the climber and the belayer at additional risk.
One of the most basic, fundamental rules of using your verbal climbing signals correctly means eliminating all the meaningless noise and getting your signal through loud and clear. Is this a time for small talk? No. You could confuse your partner. When you're using your signals, should you ever add "OK"? Absolutely not. It has no meaning and has been the cause of numerous climbing accidents in the past. Should you say "thanks a lot"? Don't even consider it. This isn't a time to be polite. This is a time to communicate clearly. Your life is depending on your partner understanding exactly what you want, and you can't afford to cause a misunderstanding.
To qualify for trad school, when you give your signals, shout your signal loudly, clearly, without any meaningless garbage added to it. Do it like this; "TAKE SUE!" "LOWER ME SUE!", that's it - nothing more and nothing less. Once again, this is a trad school requirement, use clear, concise climbing signals with nothing added to or subtracted from them. Your life, and your acceptance into trad school, depends upon it.

^top | Knots | Double Checking | Belaying | Verbal Signals | Rappel Backup* | Ascending* | Traversing* | Anchor Testing* | Sport Climbing Anchors* | Equipment List

Constructing a Rappel Station Backup

 

Definitions:

primary rappel anchor: The slings that are already tied around the tree that are threaded through two rappel rings.

backup anchor:: The gear that forms an independent system that will keep you connected to the tree in case the primary rappel anchor fails while you are testing it. In the following scenario it will consist of two slings that you will girth hitch around the tree, and two locking carabiners that connect these two slings to the load bearing point on your harness.

 

Scenario: In the following scenario, you are simulating a situation where you are hiking to a tree to rappel from. Since you are not climbing, you are not on belay. The tree already has slings and rappel rings around it from previous rappellers. Your partner has already threaded your rappel rope through the rappel rings. You will be the first person to rappel.

 

  1. Test the tree
  2. Inspect the slings and rap rings
  3. Girth hitch a large sling around the tree
  4. Connect yourself to the backup
  5. Add a second sling for redundancy
  6. Visually check your backup anchor
  7. Physically test your backup anchor
  8. Reposition yourself on the rappel side of the tree
  9. Give the anchor a preliminary physical test with body weight
  10. Assemble your rappel device
  11. Visually check your rappel device
  12. Pull up taut to the anchor so that your backup anchors are slack
  13. Physically test your rappel device
  14. Perform a leg wrap to secure the brake side of the rope
  15. Detach yourself from one of your backup anchors and use it to back up the primary rappel anchor
  16. Attach an autoblock backup
  17. Visually check the autoblock
  18. Detach yourself from your second backup anchor and use it to back up the primary rappel anchor
  19. Physically check the autoblock
  20. Undo your leg wrap
  21. Signal 'On Rappel'
  22. Rappel down the rope
  23. Arrival - anchor yourself if applicable, disassemble your device
  24. Signal 'Off Rappel'
  25. Rope pull test

Preliminary: Tell your partner that after you rappel to the bottom and call "off rappel (name)", you will pull one side of the rope for a few feet so you can be sure the rope will slide through the rappel rings. Once you are sure the rope will slide, you will then pull the other side the same distance so both ends of the rope will be even. (Both ends must be even to insure your partner's safety.) It is important to tell your partner that you are planning to do this so they will know what you are doing when you start to pull the rope. If you don't tell them what you are going to do they might think that you are attempting to pull the rope all the way through which would leave them stranded.
When you reach the bottom, if you can't pull the rope, there is some information listed after step 25 on how to deal with the problem.

 

1.Test the tree. Shake it to see if it appears strong enough to rappel from.

Shaking the tree must be done carefully, you must be prepared for a worst case scenario: The root system may be so weak that the tree might fall off the cliff. If this happens, you must be sure you have positioned your body so that you don't fall off the cliff with it.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you believe the tree is not strong enough to hold your weight, or you can't safely approach the tree without putting yourself in danger of falling off the cliff, needless to say; apply some common sense. Instruct your partner to place you on belay before approaching the tree.
It goes without saying that you can't rappel from a tree that looks too thin, dead, or weak to hold your body weight. In this example we are using a tree that is three feet in diameter, it's so strong you could crash a car into it going forty miles an hour and the tree would still be there. This is the kind of tree you need to use. Remember to use your common sense; you can continue with this procedure only if you are positive that the tree is absolutely bomb proof.

^

2. Inspect the slings and rappel rings around the tree.

You can only rappel from this primary anchor if the slings and rappel rings are in perfect condition. Once again, apply some common sense. You can't rappel from this anchor if the slings are faded or tattered, or if the rappel rings are misshapen or worn.
You can't rappel from this anchor if the tree has slings tied around it without rappel rings. If it does, at least one previous rappeller has retrieved their rope by pulling it all the way through when they reached the ground. This causes a huge amount of friction on the slings which will severely weaken them.
Don't rappel from this anchor if the rappel rings are nicked. The sharp metal burrs could cut the sheath of your rope while you're rappelling, and / or when you retrieve your rope by pulling it all the way through once you reach the ground.
You will need to determine if the slings will become loaded over a sharp edge of a rock, or the sharp edge of the ledge once the rappeller weights the system.
If it appears that the slings will load over the sharp edge of a rock, all you'll have to do is move the sharp rock out of the way.
If it appears that the slings will load over the sharp edge of the ledge, you may be able to slide the slings higher up the tree. The diameter of tree trunks become thinner the farther up the tree you go. If you slide the slings higher up the tree, be sure the area of the tree you are sliding it to is still thick and more than strong enough to support the weight of the rappeller.
There is more information after step 25 regarding the condition of the rappel station.

^

3. Girth hitch a large sling around the tree.

You are girth hitching your own sling around the tree to attach yourself to. You can't simply clip into the slings that are already around the tree since you don't know if you can trust them (they haven't been tested yet).

^

4. Connect yourself to the backup by attaching this sling to the load bearing point on your harness with a separate locking carabiner.

^

5. Add a second sling for redundancy.

Using another large sling and another locking carabiner, repeat the previous two tasks titled "3. Girth hitch…" and "4. CONNECT..." This will connect you to the tree with two points.

^

6. Visually check your backup anchor

Visually check to be sure the backup system you have just assembled has been done correctly.

^

7. Physically check your backup anchor.

Lean your body away from the tree in a direction that will not allow you to fall from the cliff. If the backup system holds your weight it proves that you have assembled your backup system correctly. Both of your hands must be hanging by your sides. Do not hold the slings that are connecting you to the tree because this would displace some of your body weight. You need to be sure the backup system only will hold your entire body weight without any assistance from the strength in your hands and arms.

^

8. Reposition yourself on the rappel side of the tree.

Walk to the other side of the tree so you are standing between the tree and the fall line. You will need to rotate the two backup slings as you reposition your body.

^

9. Give the anchor a preliminary physical test with body weight.

Give a hard tug with all your body weight on the rappel rope to see if the primary anchor will hold.

^

10. Assemble your rappel device.

^

11. Visually check your rappel device.

Visually check to be sure you have assembled your rappel device correctly.

^

12. Pull up taut to the anchor so that your backup anchors are slack.

Make sure the two slings that you girth hitched around the tree that created your backup system have a minimal amount of slack in them. In other words, when you lean back to rappel the rappel rope must be supporting your weight, not the backup slings. It is critical that neither of the slings are tight because this would displace some of your body weight, invalidating the test you will be performing in the next task.

^

13. Physically check rappel device.

You will now physically check to see if your rappel device will hold you. While utilizing a secure brake hand grip, hang all of your weight onto your rappel device to see if it will hold your body weight. Your feeling hand must be hanging by your side. Do not hold the slings that are connecting you to the tree with your feeling hand because this would displace some of your body weight onto the backup system. You need to be sure the rappel system will hold your entire body weight without any assistance from the backup system.
It is at this point in the procedure that the beauty of the backup anchor becomes apparent. If you have gotten this far and the primary anchor is not sound, your backup will save you. As you can see, this physical check using your body weight is critical; it is your only chance to see if the system is sound before you trust your life to it.
Important: Your rappel device only must be supporting all of your weight - not the two slings that you girth hitched around the tree. If the two slings that you girth hitched around the tree are holding any weight at all, that would mean that you wouldn't be testing the primary anchor with all of your weight.
Furthermore, in addition to testing to see if the primary rappel anchor will hold, you are also testing to see if you have assembled your rappelling gear correctly. Even though you visually double checked your rappel gear, you need to recognize that human error is inevitable, and while you may think you have assembled your gear correctly, and it looked correct to you when you double checked, the hard fact is that you could have made a mistake.

^

14. Perform a leg wrap to secure the brake side of the rope.

^

15. Detach yourself from one of your backup anchors and use it to back up the primary rappel anchor

One of your personal backup slings will function as a shock loading rappel anchor backup. Unclip one of your back-up slings from its locking carabiner. Leave the locking carabiner connected to the load bearing point on your harness. Leave the sling around the tree. Using two opposite and opposed carabiners, connect the sling you just unclipped from to the rappel rope. This sling will be loosely connected to the rope; while you are rappelling it will not be supporting any of your body weight. Once you begin rappelling if for some reason your primary rappel anchor fails the rappel rope will shock load onto this backup system, and keep you from falling. The reason this backup must be slack is so you can test the primary anchor with your body weight the entire time you are rappelling partially for your partner's benefit) - then when your partner rappels next she can be more confident that the primary rappel anchor is solid since it was able to support your body weight.
There is more information after step 25 regarding the precautions that the last rappeller must take.
^

16. Attach an autoblock backup...

...to the rappel rope below your rappel device and clip it to a locking carabiner on leg loop of your harness. Important: You cannot open the carabiner that your rappel device is attached to anyway because it would compromise the rappel device - leg wrap protection system.
^

17. Visually check your Autoblock.

You will now look to see if you have attached this prusik to the rope and it's locking carabiner correctly.

^

18. Detach yourself from your second backup anchor and use it to back up the primary rappel anchor .

Create redundancy by switching your other personal backup sling so it will function as a shock loading rappel anchor backup. (Duplicate task #15 with the other sling that is around the tree and is connected to the locking carabiner on the load bearing point on your harness.)

^

19. Physically check your Autoblock.

You will now physically check to be sure your autoblock will bite into the rappel rope by grasping it and giving it a tug.

^

20. Undo your leg wrap

At this point, it is critical that one of your hands securely grips the rope directly under your rappel device with a secure brake hand grip before you begin removing the rope from your shoulder, and subsequently unwrapping the rope from your leg.

^

21. Signal"on rappel"...

...to the people below you.

^

22. Rappel down the rope.

  • Look down! Make sure that both ends of the rope are on the ground. There is more information regarding the importance of looking down in the section titled 'additional information to remember when you are rappelling' immediately following this procedure.
  • Keep feet apart (shoulder width).
  • Take small steps.
  • Legs straight with a slight bend at knees.
  • Keep legs perpendicular to the rock surface.
  • Go slow!! (A hot rappel device will melt the rope).
  • Don't bounce. Jumping or bouncing while rappelling places additional stress on the primary anchor which is the only thing that is keeping you from falling.
^

23. Arrival.

In a moment it will be time to remove your rappel device and autoblock. Accomplish this task depending on which of the two situations you are in as indicated below:
A. If you are now on the ground, obviously you are in a situation where you are no longer at risk of falling. Therefore, you may now remove your rappel device and your prusik from the rope.
B. If you have arrived at a lower elevation rappel station (in other words, you're rope wasn't long enough to rappel to the ground, so now you will have to rappel again from here) you will need to connect yourself to this rappel station before you can remove your rappel device and your prusik from the rope. First you will have to perform a leg wrap so you can work with both of your hands. You will then have to start over beginning with the very first task of the procedure titled 'constructing a rappel station backup' that you read earlier in this manual. You will have to determine if this rappel station is strong enough to rappel from. If it is, you have to connect yourself to this rappel station, and then test your connection to it using your body weight. Once you are positive you have connected yourself to it so there is no possibility you can fall, you can remove your leg wrap, and then remove your rappel device and your autoblock from the rope.

^

24. Signal "off rappel (name)".

During the qualification exam, use the name of the trad school rappel examiner that is above. During the field trips and when you are climbing on your own, use the name of the next person that will be rappelling.

^

25. Rope Pull Test

You will now complete the task that you told your partner about in the preliminary task. Pull one side of the rope for a few feet so you can be sure the rope will slide through the rappel rings. Once you are sure the rope will slide, you will then pull the other side the same distance so both ends of the rope will be even to insure your partner's safety.

^

Additional information to remember when you are rappelling:


The primary rappel anchor (the slings and rappel rings that you found at the tree) must always be backed up; it must have at least two components. In other words, there must be at least two slings around the tree, and at least two rappel rings. If any one piece of gear from your primary rappel anchor suddenly fell apart it must not allow a catastrophic failure of the entire anchor to happen. Never rappel from a single sling around a tree, connected to a single rappel ring.

Sometimes there is so much friction between the rope, the rappel rings, and the edge of the ledge that it is impossible to pull the rope once you are done rappelling. More frequently, when you try to pull double ropes after rappelling sometimes the knot that joins the two ropes together will get stuck on the edge of the ledge. If this happens it will be the responsibility of the last rappeller to use a rappelling technique that brings the knot over the edge of the ledge when they begin to rappel. To accomplish this, when the last rappeller begins to rappel she simply brings the knot with her for a short distance. In other words, one rope will be sliding in one direction while the other rope will be sliding in the other direction until the knot clears the edge of the ledge where it was getting stuck. Once the knot is below the place where it was getting stuck, the rappeller can start using standard rappelling technique. This must be done slowly and cautiously, since it is more difficult than standard rappelling technique care must be taken to avoid losing control of your descent.
You will have to modify this procedure if your destination rappel station is a full rope length below you because it would mean that one end of the rope will no longer reach the destination below. After sliding the knot over the edge, you may have to set up an intermediate rappel station to pull the rope from.

During task #15 of the preceding procedure, since the first rappeller has the benefit of a shock loading backup anchor, it makes the most sense for the first rappeller to be the heavier person on the team so he can test the primary anchor for the last rappeller. The first rappeller should take most of the rack with them for several reasons; it adds more weight to better test the anchor for the last rappeller, it allows the last rappeller to weigh less since she will be rappelling without a shock loading backup, and it will allow the first rappeller to set up a lower elevation rappel station in case he is not able to reach an established rappel station. As the last person to rappel waits at the rappel station above, she must observe the primary rappel anchor while her partner is rappelling. Since she will be removing the shock loading backup before she rappels, she needs to decide if she can trust the primary anchor. She must look carefully to see if the anchor is straining in a dangerous way from her partners weight. A few things to check would be to see if the rappel rings are deforming, if the slings are creaking, if the slings are straining against a sharp edge that they initially missed when they first checked the primary anchor, or if the knots in the slings are slipping. The observations that the last rappeller must make are not limited to these few suggestions. The last rappeller must make the life or death decision of whether or not she will trust this primary anchor by itself. If the last rappeller has any doubt, she must fortify the primary anchor by adding some of her own gear to the primary anchor.
Many times a rappeller will need to add some of their own gear to the rappel station so they can be sure it will hold. If you have even the slightest doubt about the integrity of the slings or rappel rings around the tree, as stated above, don't hesitate to reinforce the primary anchor by adding (and thereby leaving) some of your own slings and / or rappel rings.
Additionally, you have to be prepared for this to become more expensive. In other situations that you will probably be faced with in the future after you graduate from this school, you may have to leave over $100.00 worth of trad gear to make your primary rappel anchor sound. If some day you are faced with a decision like this, this is NOT the time to think about money! No matter how much gear you have to leave, don't even give it a second thought, leave it! No matter how much money you paid for the gear you will leave at the rappel station and never see again, it's a bargain - leave it, don't look back, and feel good about having the intelligence to do what has to be done to protect your life.

^

Avoiding the common accident of rappelling off the end of a rope:
There have been many accidents from people rappelling off the ends of their ropes. Here are some precautions that will keep this from happening to you.

1. Remember to look down

This is a simple solution to a deadly problem. Before you start rappelling, Look down! You must make sure both ends of the rope either reach the ground or the next rappel station. Sometimes you won't be able to see down far enough while you are still at the rappel station. If this is the case, keep looking down as frequently as is needed while rappelling until you can be sure the ropes reach your destination.

 

2. Be sure both ends of the rope are even

Even if both ends of the rope are not even, when you get past the end of the short strand you will pull the rope through the anchor and fall. Whenever you throw a rope to rappel on, be sure the middle of it is positioned at the anchor. Important: If you have stuck a piece of tape in the center of your rope, remember that tape inevitably loses its adhesive tendencies, will eventually move away from the center of the rope, and cannot be trusted as the sole evidence that both ends of the rope are on the ground!

 

3.Tie knots in both ends of the rope before you throw them

This way if you forget to look down the knots will get jammed in your rappel device and keep you from rappelling off the ends. This precaution probably will not work with a figure 8 rappel device which is one of the reasons we do not allow you to use a figure 8 in this school.
A word of caution; if you ever rappel all the way to the knots, do not let go with your brake hand and simply "rest" on the knots. In the past there have been accidents where people did this and the weight of their body caused the knots to become untied. Keep your brake hand on the rope, configure your prusiks to ascend the rope using your feeling hand only, and start prusiking back up as soon as possible.
There is one disadvantage to tying knots in the ends of the rope. If you are descending a multi-pitch rappel route there is a chance that one of the knots in the end of the rope will get stuck in one of the cracks below your destination rappel station. If this happens there are two solutions to the problem:
1. You can rappel past the destination rappel station to the place where the rope is stuck, free the stuck rope, and then prusik back up to the destination rappel station.
2. You can rappel past the destination rappel station to the place where the rope is stuck, free the stuck rope, and then build an anchor. You will then have to wait while your partner above rappels to the destination rappel station, pulls the rope and sets up the next rappel. Once your partner rappels past you, you can connect to the rappel rope and then rappel down. As always, in this situation remember to apply all of the rules of testing the system with your body weight before disconnecting from the anchor you have built.
It is the position of trad school that in spite of the possible disadvantage of getting the rope stuck, tying knots in the rope ends is well worth doing because of the increased safety it provides.
^

^top | Knots | Double Checking | Belaying | Verbal Signals | Rappel Backup* | Ascending* | Traversing* | Anchor Testing* | Sport Climbing Anchors* | Equipment List

Ascending a Rope Via Prusiks

 


In some instances a seconding climber may find themselves on a route that is too difficult for them to climb. In this situation the second can ascend the rope until they have passed the crux of the climb using the following procedure. In the following example you will be ascending a single rope strand, so all prusik knots must have quadruple wraps.

  1. Attach your 1st prusik to the rope with a prusik knot, and then girth hitch two slings to this prusik. Connect one sling to the load bearing point of your harness with a locking carabiner, and then lock the carabiner - this sling will function as a back up connection to the rope. The other sling will hang loose, and will function as a foot step.
  2. Attach your 2nd prusik to the rope above the 1st prusik with a prusik knot and then connect the other end of this prusik to the load bearing point of your harness with another locking carabiner, and then lock the carabiner. Slide this 2nd prusik up as far as possible.
  3. While stepping up into the loose hanging sling, slide the top prusik up, and then sit back into your harness.
  4. While sitting in your harness, slide the lower prusik up.
  5. Continue steps 3 and 4 until you have ascended past the crux of the climb.

Prusiking up a rope will cause a loop of rope to be formed below you that is equal to the distance of rope that you have ascended. It is advantageous to remove this loop so it won't drag along and get caught in the cracks below you. To remove the loop, do not simply remove your prusiks because this would expose you to a fall that is equal to the length of rope in the loop.
A better way to eliminate the loop requires the use of a ledge large enough to stand on. If there is a ledge like this above the crux, once you're on the ledge, first clip into a piece of gear (left in the wall by your partner while he was leading the pitch) to get some security. Call "slack (name)" to your belayer above, and then hang your full body weight on this piece of gear using the concept of testing all systems while still backed up. Remember, the piece of gear must be supporting all of your body weight - not your prusiks. Once you are sure this piece of gear will hold you, loosen both prusiks and call "up rope (name)". As the rope is pulled up, allow the rope to slide through your prusiks until the loop has been eliminated. Once the loop is eliminated you can remove your prusiks, remove the gear from the wall, and resume climbing.

^top | Knots | Double Checking | Belaying | Verbal Signals | Rappel Backup* | Ascending* | Traversing* | Anchor Testing* | Sport Climbing Anchors* | Equipment List

Traversing a Fixed Line

Scenario: In the following scenario, you are belayed up to a fixed rope. You will connect yourself to the fixed line and test your prusik system while on belay.

 

  1. Attach two prusiks to the single strand traverse rope. One end of each prusik must be attached to the traverse rope with a quadruple prusik knot. The other end of each prusik must be attached to the load bearing point on your harness with two separate locking carabiners.
    The prusiks will stop you from two types of falls:
    A. Obviously, first and foremost, they will stop you from falling to the ground.
    B. Since you will be traversing in a moment, if you fall the prusiks will bite into the rope, and will stop you from a pendulum / lateral fall.
    The reason you are using two prusiks attached to two separate carabiners instead of one prusik and one carabiner is because you are creating redundancy - it is never acceptable to trust your life to only one piece of gear.
  2. Visually check to be sure you have correctly attached your prusiks to both the traverse rope and your harness.
  3. Physical check (preliminary). First grasp each prusik one at a time and give it a hard tug to be sure it bites into the traverse rope.
  4. Physically check the system by hanging all of your body weight onto your prusiks to see if they will hold you as described in the section of this manual titled Anchor Testing. Both of your hands must be hanging by your sides. Do not hold your prusiks, the traverse line, or the belay rope because this would displace some of your body weight. You need to be sure your prusiks and the traverse rope only will hold your entire body weight without any assistance from the belay system, or the strength in your hands and arms.
  5. Traverse to the anchor at the other end of the fixed line.
^top | Knots | Double Checking | Belaying | Verbal Signals | Rappel Backup* | Ascending* | Traversing* | Anchor Testing* | Sport Climbing Anchors* | Equipment List

Rappel Procedure: Testing the System While Always Backed Up

 

Descending from a route is one of the most deadly aspects of technical rock climbing. It doesn't have to be that way, but because the victims didn't apply the concept we are about to explain, many an unfortunate climber has needlessly plummeted to their deaths.
When you are descending, be that while rappelling, being lowered from a top rope, or from any other system, your life is completely dependant upon your gear.
In a staggering number of rappelling and lowering accidents, the climbers neglected to physically test the system while still attached to a back up before they entrusted their lives to the system.
The concept is simple; before you transfer all of your weight onto any primary anchor system, make sure you're also attached with a minimal amount of slack to a separate backup system that will hold you in case the primary system fails. That's all there is to it.

Here is a classic example that all of you are sure to be faced with. Imagine you have just spent a long day climbing to the top of some huge cliff, and now it's time to rappel to the ground. You come across a tree with a 3 foot diameter trunk. The trunk has two slings tied around it. Both slings have been threaded through two rappel rings.
Even though it is obvious that others have rappelled from this tree in the past, there is no way you can be sure that this rappel station is still strong enough to support your weight, and therefore you will have to test it to make sure it is capable of holding you before you trust your life to it. Remember, you're not in a climbing gym that has a staff of employees that check the condition of the equipment every day, where huge I beams support eight inch diameter solid steel rods for the climbers to descend from. To the contrary, you're at the top of a cliff in the middle of nowhere, where no one is responsible for checking the condition of the descent anchors.
For all you know the tree could have been recently hit by lightning and has been severely weakened. Termites or other insects could have been slowly eating away at it, and it could be ready to crumble. One of the most common problems with trees that grow on cliffs is they inherently have shallow root systems, causing the entire tree to be unstable at best.
You have no idea how long the slings have been baking in the sun, how many severe rain and snow storms they have endured, how many small animals have chewed on them, etc. All of these occurrences will serve to weaken the slings.
Furthermore, you don't know if the rappel rings are still sound, these weaken with age and use. Since you don't know how long they have been there, for all you know the weight that will be placed on them from the next rappeller could cause them to collapse.
It should be very clear by now that simply rappelling from this anchor without some sort of test to see if the anchor will hold you could be a recipe for disaster. Therefore, to qualify for trad school you must demonstrate that you are able to construct a rappel station backup system that will allow you to test the primary rappel anchor and prove that it is capable of supporting your weight before you descend from it.

^top | Knots | Double Checking | Belaying | Verbal Signals | Rappel Backup* | Ascending* | Traversing* | Anchor Testing* | Sport Climbing Anchors* | Equipment List

Descending From Sport Climbs

Lowering from a sport route

Allowing your belayer to lower you through the bolts at the top of a sport route is not the optimal choice since the friction created from the rope running through the bolts wears away the metal and eventually makes the bolts unsafe. However, some day you may find yourself in a situation where you could be forced to lower through the bolts. For example, if an electrical storm is moving in fast, since this procedure is the quickest way to descend, it may be the best choice for the situation you're in. Based on this possible need, we have included the following procedure.
It's easiest if you prepare for this procedure while still on the ground by girth hitching two equal length (approximately 24") separate slings to the load bearing point on your harness, and attach a locking carabiner to the end of each sling. Clip both locking carabiners to one of your gear loops so they will stay out of the way.
You will remain on belay during this entire process.
After leading the route, using the locking carabiners that are clipped to the slings that you connected to the load bearing point on your harness while you were on the ground, clip one locking carabiner to each bolt at the top anchor and lock them. Lean back so these two slings and the locking carabiners support all of your body weight. You are now connected to two separate independent anchors.
Pull about fifteen feet of rope up and tie a figure 8 on a bight in it. Clip the bight into a locking carabiner that is attached to the load bearing point on your harness, and lock this carabiner. Never clip this to one of your gear loops! (Explanation to follow in the next section).
Untie the figure 8 retrace from your harness, pass the rope through both of the bolts, and then retie the rope to the load bearing point on your harness with a figure 8 retrace.
Unclip the figure 8 on a bight from the locking carabiner, untie the figure 8 on a bight, and drop the slack that was created.
You will now test the system to see if you have threaded the rope correctly through the bolts, if you have re-tied the rope to your harness correctly, and to insure that you are still on belay.
Call "take (name)". Your belayer will have to remove all the slack that was created after you untied the figure 8 on a bight and dropped the slack, and will have to pull the rope tight.
Using your arms and legs, hoist yourself up towards the anchor to shorten the distance between yourself and the bolts to create slack in the two slings that are connecting you to the bolts. When you feel the rope pulling you up, lean back against the rope to see if it will hold you. You must have the experience of all of your weight being supported by the rope, not the slings.
Once you are sure the rope will hold you, unclip the two locking carabiners from the anchor and clip them to a gear loop to keep them out of the way. You may have to hold yourself up using your arms and legs and call "slack (name)" to accomplish this since the rope will probably be pinching down on the two locking carabiners that are clipped through the bolts.
If you called for slack in the last task, call "take (name)" so your belayer can remove the slack and support your weight with the rope.
Once you feel the rope holding you (pulling you up once again) you will call "lower me (name)" and remove the draws on the route below you as you are lowered.
You may have to call "take (name)" to your belayer in case you need to stop at each draw to remove it from the bolts on the way down. After you have removed each draw, call "lower me (name)" so your belayer can continue to lower you. It must be emphasized that you need to continue using your signals correctly so there is no confusion as to what you want your belayer to do. Additionally, using anything but clear concise signals with your partner's name could cause other climbing teams in the vicinity to respond to your signals. Remember that miscommunication is probably the most common killer in the climbing environment.

 

  • Girth hitch 2 slings to belay loop, locking 'biners
  • Clip each bolt
  • Test anchors with body weight
  • Pull up 15 feet of rope, tie figure 8 on a bight, clip to belay loop with a locking 'biner
  • Untie the figure 8 retrace and pass the end of the rope through both bolts, then re-tie the figure 8 retrace as before
  • Remove the locking 'biner from the figure 8 on a bight and untie it, drop the 15 feet of rope.
  • Call "take (name)"
  • Hoist yourself up, then lean back to weight test the figure 8 retrace and the newly threaded bolts
  • Unclip the two slings
  • Call "Lower me (name)
  • Clean the draws as you are lowered

Understanding the reason for attaching the rope to your harness using a figure 8 on a bight

It is important to understand the reason why you must connect the rope to the load bearing point on your harness using a figure 8 on a bight before you untie your figure 8 retrace during these sport climbing procedures.
There is always a possibility that you could make a mistake and not attach yourself to the top anchor with your slings correctly. Additionally, there are other mistakes and accidents that can occur in this situation that may cause you to become unexpectedly disconnected from the anchor.
By attaching the rope to the load bearing point on your harness using a figure 8 on a bight, if you become disconnected from the anchor, the worst thing that could happen is you would take a leader fall that is twice the distance between yourself and the last bolt. Since you were never taken off belay, your partner would catch you using the last draw you placed on the route because you are still connected to the rope via your locking carabiner and the figure 8 on a bight. Note that this emphasizes why you must not clip the figure 8 on a bight to one of your gear loops.

Rappelling from a sport route

It's easiest if you prepare for this procedure while still on the ground by girth hitching two equal length (approximately 24") separate slings to the load bearing point on your harness, and attach a locking carabiner to the end of each sling. Clip both locking carabiners to one of your gear loops so they will stay out of the way.
After leading the route, using the locking carabiners that are clipped to the slings that you connected to the load bearing point on your harness while you were on the ground, clip one locking carabiner to each bolt at the top anchor and lock them. Lean back so these two slings and the locking carabiners support all of your body weight. You are now connected to two separate independent anchors.
Pull about fifteen feet of rope up and tie a figure 8 on a bight in it. Clip the bight into a locking carabiner that is attached to the load bearing point on your harness, and lock this carabiner. Again, never clip this to one of your gear loops!
Untie the figure 8 retrace from your harness, pass the rope through both of the bolts, and then tie a knot in the end of the rope. In case you accidentally let go of the rope, this knot will get jammed in the anchor so you won't lose it.
Call "off belay (name)" to your partner.
Unclip the figure 8 on a bight from the locking carabiner, untie the figure 8 on a bight, and pull the rope through the anchor. Keep pulling until you are positive that both ends of the rope are on the ground.
If you partner is still at the base of the route, one way to know if the rope is on the ground would be for your partner to tell you. Wait until your partner says something definitive like "the rope is down (your name)". If your partner just says "OK" or some other ambiguous statement, again; DO NOT interpret this to mean the rope is down. As stated previously, "OK" means nothing. For all you know your partner might mean "OK, let's go out for some pizza".
Important: If you have stuck a piece of tape in the center of your rope, remember that tape inevitably loses its adhesive tendencies, will eventually move away from the center of the rope, and cannot be trusted as the sole evidence that both ends of the rope are on the ground!
Assemble your rappel device and autoblock back up.
You will now test the system to see if you have threaded the rope correctly through the bolts, and if you have assembled your rappelling gear and it's connection to your harness correctly.
Using your arms and legs, hoist yourself up towards the anchor to create slack in the two slings that are connecting you to the bolts. You will need to crank the rope through your rappel device with your brake hand so you ascend the rope. Your immediate goal is to shorten the distance between the bolts and your rappel device so you can make the two slings attaching you to the bolts slack.
Once there is slack in the two slings, you will lean back against the rope to see if your rappel device will hold you. You must experience all of your weight being supported by your rappel device and the rope, not the slings. Additionally, your feeling hand must be hanging by your side. Do not hold the slings, the rope, or anything else with your feeling hand because this would displace some of your body weight. You need to be sure the rappel system will hold your entire body weight without any assistance from the backup system (the slings), or the strength in your feeling hand.
Once you experience your rappel device holding you, while keeping your brake hand securely on the rope, remove the two locking carabiners that are attached to the bolts. You may have to perform a leg wrap and hoist yourself up using your arms and legs to create slack on the rope since the rope will probably be pinching down on the two locking carabiners that are clipped through the bolts.
Remove the two slings from the anchor, and clip them to a gear loop to keep them out of the way.
Call "on rappel", rappel down the route, and remove each draw as you descend.

 

  • Girth hitch 2 slings to belay loop, locking 'biners
  • Clip each bolt
  • Test anchors with body weight
  • Pull up 15 feet of rope, tie figure 8 on a bight, clip to belay loop with a locking 'biner
  • Untie the figure 8 retrace and pass the end of the rope through both bolts, then tie a stopper knot at the end of the rope
  • Call "off belay (name)"
  • Remove the locking 'biner from the figure 8 on a bight and untie it, pull the rope through the bolts until both ends are on the ground
  • Confirm that both ends are on the ground
  • Assemble your rappel device and autoblock backup
  • Hoist yourself up, then lean back to weight test the rappel device and the newly threaded bolts
  • While maintaining a break hand grip, unclip the two slings
  • Call "On Rappel (name)"
  • Rappel down the route, cleaning the draws as you go

 

Removing a top rope anchor from a sport route

When people top rope on sport climbs it is customary for the rope to run through a "pulley" consisting of three opposite and opposed carabiners that are connected with slings to the two bolts at the top anchor. At the end of the day someone must climb up and retrieve the gear and then rappel or lower down. Following is the procedure for removing a top rope anchor from a sport route.
It's easiest if you prepare for this procedure while still on the ground by girth hitching two equal length (approximately 24") separate slings to the load bearing point on your harness, and attach a locking carabiner to the end of each sling. Clip both locking carabiners to one of your gear loops so they will stay out of the way.
First you must climb the route (while on top rope). While you are climbing, clip a draw to the highest bolt on the route (not the top anchor; below the top anchor). Next, clip the rope to the draw (not the side of the rope that you are tied to, clip the side that goes directly to your belayer). You are doing this so you will be able to protect yourself using a figure 8 on a bight attached to the load bearing point on your harness as discussed previously. If you have forgotten to bring a draw with you, hopefully you have an extra carabiner that you can use. Do not skip this critical safety step. A tragic accident in Clear Creek Canyon resulting in the death of a Colorado Mountain Club member in the year 2000 would have been avoided if the victim had done this.
After climbing the route on top rope, when you arrive at the top anchor, using the locking carabiners that are clipped to the slings that you connected to the load bearing point on your harness while you were on the ground, clip one locking carabiner to each bolt at the top anchor and lock them. Lean back so these two slings and the locking carabiners support all of your body weight. You are now connected to two separate independent anchors.
You will now remove the slings and carabiners that were used for the top rope anchor. Be careful to remove the top rope anchor slings and carabiners only, not the two locking carabiners and slings that are connecting you to the bolts.
You are now ready to follow one of the procedures, either "Lowering From A Sport Route" or "Rappelling From A Sport Route" as described previously.

^top | Knots | Double Checking | Belaying | Verbal Signals | Rappel Backup* | Ascending* | Traversing* | Anchor Testing* | Sport Climbing Anchors* | Equipment List

Equipment List

 

Training classes:

  • Carabiners, non-locking, preferably notchless, quantity of 3.
  • Carabiners, locking, preferably notchless, quantity of 4.
  • Rock shoes
  • Climbing harness
  • Rappel/Belay device
  • Helmet
  • Slings; quantity of 2, 24"
  • Prusik loops; quantity of 2 (1@ 24" and 1@ 18")
  • Rain jacket in a stuff sack
  • Textbook Craig Luebben's book Rock Climbing Anchors: A Comprehensive Guide. Read this book prior to the August lectures. An additional supplementary textbook would be Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills by Craig Luebben, or Guide to Climbing by Tony Lourens.

Additional gear for field trips:

  • Day pack: Approximately 2500 cubic inches for clothing and gear.
  • Warm clothing
  • Miscellaneous: Water bottles, basic first aid kit, headlamp, sunscreen, ten essentials.
  • Identification for your gear: Use colored duct tape, electrical tape or paint on all of your gear so it can be identified. There is a huge amount of gear used during trad school and it all looks exactly the same. If you haven't marked it, don't bring it, because you might never be able to find it again.
Important Disclaimer: Climbing is inherently dangerous and should be performed only with the proper instruction and supervision of an experienced climber.
The author and publisher of this web page assume no responsibility for any injuries incurred by the reader.