Talking About Rope Soloing
Feb 8, 2008
You’ve aquired many beautiful pictures, on your many climbs. I enjoy looking at them. Ordering a copy of your book is on the things to do list, after seeing your site.I am in comparision to your epic climbs; a mere rookie. A rookie with great ambitions. I am an Arborist by trade. From Pennsylvania. I enjoy being off the ground daily. 140 ft. on a good day. Even on the windy days, I seem to find satisfaction in this occupation.I have been rock climbing for quite some time. Sport, Trad, Multi-pitches. I am however, looking for some good feedback about solo roped ascents.
If you have any feedback for me, I would love to hear. A good book to read, or maybe a self belay rig. I have tried two different length prusiks. A long prusik to back-up the shorter prusik. Works all right, and is lightweight. Though wondering if anyone knows of a better way. As the owner of a busy Tree Care business, my schedule can be a little unpredictable. Just looking to get out and do more climbing, partner, or without a partner.
Thanks for any feedback,
Your job sounds so nice, climbing trees and tending them! It is great to be able to climb alone, because it really frees you up to climb more. I like to use a system with two Petzl mini-traxions. (My friend insists I remind everyone “The highinfatuation.com domain and any and all information associated therewith, is not warranted expressly or impliedly to be correct or accurate–information found here and relied upon shall be done so at one’s own risk. Climbing is dangerous and should only be attempted by those with the proper skills and experience.” Well, we know he’s right ! So, if you decide to read any further, or to experiment with this system, be really careful, use good judgment, and remember that you are responsible for your own decisions, safety, and rigging. Okay!……)
Many, and probably most, of the El Cap free ascents have been made by first working out the routes on mini-traxion, or in earlier days with a similar system using a jumar. If you can put a fixed line on the route from above, you are all set. You will need to spend some time experimenting with your set-up to make sure you get it right. But essentially, you need two minitraxions, and two oval locking biners (it’s very important to use an oval locker with a mini traxion, rather than a D). You also want to make sure you have a back-up of some type on your belay loop, so that you are not putting your life on one piece of bartacked webbing. I always climb with at least one daisy chain girthed through both parts of my harness and then clipped off to the back of my gear loop with a locker, so I always have a back-up for my belay loop and an easy-to-access clip-in point. To back up the belay loop, I clip through the lowest daisy loop above the girth. You can also just tie on an additional piece of webbing, mirroring the sewn belay loop.
Rig one mini-traxion on the rope and clip it to your belay loop/back-up belay loop with an oval locker. That is your back-up mini traxion, and stays on the bottom. Rig the second one on the rope, and clip it on your belay loop above the other one. Put a shoulder length sling around each shoulder, and use a piece of tie-off webbing to tie through the front x-point, and then through the hole on the mini traxion, where the biner is clipped. I tie the little tie-off piece with a very short overhand knot–now the mini traxion will stay up, towards your chest.
From here, you just climb, and as you get higher on the rope, it will feed better through the mini traxions. At first, just off the ground you will have to pull the rope through with your hands as you climb. Make sure you have directionals on the rope, if the route is steep or wandering. When you want to get down, use your daisy to either clip into the anchors, or to a piece on the route, and disengage the minitraxions one at a time, after you have put a Grigri on the rope below them (so you are backed up by the Grigri as you disassemble the ascenders).
I know this all sounds a little complicated, and it is, at first. It is less efficient than TRing with a partner, in some ways, because it is a bit of a procedure to go down before reaching the anchors, and until you have a good system, you will probably go from bottom to top every time, old school style. But there’s something nice about that too! And eventually climbing like this is as second-nature as regular toproping or any other sort of climbing rope management that you regularly do. Since there will always be some degree of futzing involved, it’s actually better training for an eventual lead, because it is definitely a little more involved to mini-traxion than to have someone else belaying you. A description like this is more than a little hard to read and then put into practice…..this system is just one way to rig such a set-up, and hopefully this can give you a comparison for whatever you decide to use yourself.
If you’re like me, you probably won’t mind spending a little extra time and energy for the luxury of spending time alone, climbing quietly in a beautiful place with nothing to distract your attention from the little world you have put yourself into….
All the best!