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Andy Kirkpatrick

Technique  

Now Get Out of That #2

Working through climbing problems

04 May 2021

In the second part of this series on problem-solving (part one here), we return to Emma and Ryan, high on a climb, faced with a tricky set of moves off a ledge, one that is more dangerous for the second than the leader (if the second falls off they will have a dangerous swing into a corner).

In this version of the scenario, I’ve made life much easier for Emma and Ryan by giving the team double ropes to play with.

Below I’ll set up several ways to deal with the problem.

Traditional back rope #1

Here, Emma – who’s the stronger climber – leads the pitch, but does not clip one rope (red), into any protection.

The second then feeds the red rope through the anchor, or if using a non-fixed anchor, they will leave a sacrificial piece (nut or sling). Sometimes, this back-rope piece can be released once the climber is above it, either pulled out, or flipped out (such as a nut or sling), but the climber needs to have a way to release the rope one-handed (so do not tie into it). The best way to do this is to attach the back-rope via a clove hitch clipped into a locker.

The best way to belay the second (as the one rope will be paying out, while the other will be paid in), is to use a guide plate for the primary rope (blue), and a Munter hitch for the back-rope.

The leader only uses one rope (blue) for leading on, keeping the red rope as a back-rope.
The leader only uses one rope (blue) for leading on, keeping the red rope as a back-rope.
Second is belayed by both ropes.
Second is belayed by both ropes.
Second release
Second release.

Trad Method #2

A simpler variation has the leader simply lead as normal, clipping gear into both ropes. When it comes to seconding, one rope is used as a back-rope, and again, released at some point. This can be done at a point where the rope can be tied back into, so as to stay attached to both ropes.

Leader climbs, clipping their rope into gear as normal.
Leader climbs, clipping their rope into gear as normal.
Second is protected by back-rope.
Second is protected by back-rope.
Second climbs up to the first piece of pro clipped into back-rope, allowing them to unclip/untie and re-attach to the rope.
Second climbs up to the first piece of pro clipped into back-rope, allowing them to unclip/untie and re-attach to the rope.
The second reties into the rope and pulls the back rope.
The second reties into the rope and pulls the back rope.

Top Rope Method

An easier method to avoid a swing is to have one rope set to act as a top rope.

The leader climbs normally but makes sure one rope is clipped so as to affect a top rope for the second.
The leader climbs normally but makes sure one rope is clipped so as to affect a top rope for the second.
The second can now climb safely.
The second can now climb safely.
If the second falls off they will be held by both ropes, but primarily by the red (top-rope).
If the second falls off they will be held by both ropes, but primarily by the red (top-rope).


In part three I’ll cover climbing as a three-person team.

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