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Choada_Boy

Solo TR Setups?

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I read Blake's blog post, wondering what systems people are using for solo TR. I started out with double prussiks on two ropes way back in the day, and for a lot of years I've used an Ushba Sport on a single 10.5, but I'm no longer comfortable with the lack of redundancy, especially climbing near my limit. Looking to upgrade...

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For a few years now I've used one mini, dynamic rope, and slings/biners for anchor. Simple and quick. My friend uses two micros for a more redundant system.

 

Blake recommends a static rope which I wouldn't since sometimes you do fall when you're close to the anchor. When this happens, even with a dynamic rope it's kind of jarring.

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Choada still wants to go climbing? Who would have thought? A belayer might help though they're not redundant. Give me a shout.

 

I've used micro & mini traxions and petzl ascenders. They all work. The Traxions can be locked open (which is bad) and probably the most likely to get yourself hurt. If you use doubles of anything make sure you arrange them such that a failed device cannot interfere with a functioning device.

 

For example some people will clip their primary rope grab to their belay loop then drag a second rope grab below that one on a long sling. But if the primary rope grab fails I could imagine simply pushing the secondary rope grab down the rope.

 

Petzl has a good diagram somewhere of separating the devices with a quickdraw. A chest harness is easily improved with a sling or some bungy cord.

 

Dealing with two devices a pain. I've settled on one and just tieing a backup knot off the ground once I start climbing.

 

Adding some weight to the end of the rope (clip on your regular shoes) can help rope feed a lot.

 

I thought Blake's advice of using a static rope was bad, but apparently he's not the only climber who climbs 27 letter grades harder than me that recommends doing so. Considering no one actually owns a static rope anymore most people probably won't take that advice.

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I thought of a few more details...

 

Make sure your shirt is tucked into your pants and keep the front two gear loops free of any gear. That decreases the chance of anything interfering with your chosen catch device.

 

On my mini, my friend used a dremmel to file off the horn that keeps the cam open so there's no way for me to accidentally leave it in the open position.

 

I always use a DMM style belay master that won't cross load.

 

Finally, a quadrupedal length spectra sling can be threaded through the minis carabiner hole to fashion a simple chest harness to keep the mini even closer to the engaged position, especially reassuring on overhanging pitches.

 

 

 

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I put a fo8 on a bight at the middle of rope, use an autolocker to clip this to anchor Rap down strand 1 with gri gri. As I rap down strand 1, on strand 2 I tie an alpine butterfly at interval of my choice or before crux. When climbing I use a Traxion w/oval locker on the unknotted strand 1 and clip the alpine butterfly knots on strand 2 to belay loop w/autolocker as I go up. I use elastic cord instead of a sling to keep the traxion oriented correctly and up high. Elastic is easier to adjust and if shtf the elastic will break before you hurt yourself. I have only used dynamic ropes for TR solo. No other real method to achieve redundancy that knots on 2nd strand. 2 devices on 1 strand makes it duplicative but not redundant

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Soloist with a chest harness. Works for TR and lead.

 

For just TR a GriGri? There's a mod you can do to it but I think it's only for the older style.

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I look forward to getting mini or micro traxion but haven't been motivated enough to drop the coin.

 

For solo TR, I use a Trango Cinch with a prussik backup. It does require that you pull rope through the Cinch as you climb, but the time and energy to do so are roughly equivalent to clipping, so it's good redpoint training anyway.

 

I use dynamic rope. If you've got a lot of rope out rope stretch is a problem, so I can see a static being useful in those situations. Falling on a static rope doesn't sound fun.

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Here's Dan McDevitt demonstrating the system I cadged off him. It's a microcender on the top, with slings used just to keep it up, and a no handle ascender as a bottom back up, all done with lockers that prevent cross loading. The top primary piece pinches like a Gibbs, with rounded teeth that are gentle on the rope, and the bottom piece grips the sheath with teeth like a Jumar does.

 

Yosemite_May_2010_014.jpg

 

Given that Dan is one of the safest climbers out there (partly due to his extensive Yosemite rescue experience) I've been pretty confident in using his system. I really just do this on the crag in my yard, so the lines are fairly straight and nothing is taller than 75', and I use a couple of lengths of static rope sized to fit the crag. The static rope is stiff, and has a very durable sheathe, and I don't go anywhere or make little squeaking noises when I fall.

 

If you're down in The Valley in the winter you'll find Arch Rock festooned with various people's fixed ropes, specifically done to provide an amazing solo tr workout situation.

 

 

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I thought Blake's advice of using a static rope was bad, but apparently he's not the only climber who climbs 27 letter grades harder than me that recommends doing so. Considering no one actually owns a static rope anymore most people probably won't take that advice.

 

Darin that was awesome. :-)

 

I only ever used a dynamic rope for years, because they were all I owned. They work fine, but have several downsides.

 

I switched to static at the suggestion of many others who climb 27 grades harder than me as well, and who have done more solo TR climbing. The standard for the most dialed in solo TR folks I've met is 2 traxions, and one static rope. No other BS. I've now fallen a few times, and it hasn't been a big deal because my setup keeps the rope moving through my devices, so no more than 12"-14" of slack builds up. Get a few feet of some stretchy Theraband (~$5 at Fred Meyer) and run a loop of it over your neck/shoulder, then clip it to your device to hold it up high and your slack problems will be gone.

Rolls_web3.jpg

 

The benefits of static are: cheaper ropes, longer-lasting ropes, less fall distance. The downside, as you mentioned, is that there is minimal stretch in the system and more impact when you slip off, which is worth considering, especially when close to the anchor. Considering that people do belayed/normal TRing all the time on static ropes, both in the gym AND outside, these solo TR slips on static ropes don't seem unreasonable to me. But don't use a static rope if your ascender setup lags behind you and allows for slack, especially as you near the anchor.

 

 

If you're using two strands for redundancy and dealing with some labor-intensive devices like a GriGri or clipping in to multiple pre-tied backup loops from strand #2, you'll soon reach a point where all this extra hassle/time/weight/self-sandbaggery defeats the point of the TR solo setup in the first place.

Edited by Blake
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I independently came to same conclusions for the upcoming year: single static and an approved secondary Traxion purchase :) Did not try securing the device with a stretchable, but will this time, thanks Blake!

Before have been using two ropes.

 

Have test-fallen before every attempt to feel secure - never a painful or unpleasant sensation, just an unusual one when "falling" on static, "fall" is never long. In fact it is scarier to hear the two ropes snap against each other!

 

The pro/con of no clutter at the harness vs. redundancy definitely needs to be considered personally, whatever is most comfortable psychologically. The redundancy does cause more attention to be paid to the system because of more parts.

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Thanks to all for the good info.

 

I like the dual Traxion setup, seems ideal, very simple and less fuss perhaps. How do people feel about the teeth on the rope v. a smooth cam device? The fall length should be very short if you're doing things correctly, so most likely not a big deal? The Ushba has a smooth lever/cam, and I'm starting to hate the way the rope gets torqued to close to 90deg.

 

I will also admit that I almost hit the ground, and burnt my hands pretty good, when I made the mistake of grabbing the rope just above the device, which prevented it from camming. Any issues with this on the Traxion?

 

I found this:

 

How to Top Rope Without a Partner

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I've fallen a bunch, sometimes on a single crux section on the same section of the rope and never damaged the sheath.

 

Also a thing to consider. After loading a mini Trax vs. Loading a micro Trax, the mini seems to bite into the sheath more than the micro and may need you to reach below the device unstick it to get it moving upwards again. The micro seems to "disengage" a lot smoother than the mini, maybe since the cam is narrower??

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If you use sling/elastic or whatever to keep the traxion Oriented corectly the falls are short, sometime not even a fall just sit back in the rope and chill. I have not noticed any additional rope wear/damage over 2 year period. I would not recommend this on your skinny ropes. Use a 10.0mm+ or don't work routes you will fall on.

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I've been solo-toproping since 1987...I'm guessing long before anyone on this thread, and long before the term even existed to my knowledge. Plus I've done massive amounts of it ever since. Heck, I solo-led El Cap that same year (using a clove-hitch on a locking 'biner)...and have once more since (using a Slient-Partner), along with a bunch of other solo-leads. Mainly solo-toproping though.

 

Actually, I LOVE solo-toproping. My favorite form of climbing is to go out with a good friend...but I also need to be my myself sometimes. It also fits into my busy schedule...there are may days I have some time to climb, but I don't know when...and/or may not have a partner available.

 

So that first year I started, I thought I was doing something no one had ever done before, Probably not too far off the truth. My first rig that I made up was completely ridiculous: I basically set up a big wall hauling system at the top of a cliff (Sunshine Wall) with a hauling pulley counterweighted with a gallon of water. Don't ask me how I released the gallon of water from below, because I don't remember (pretty sure it required a second rope). Let's just say this is an obscenely complicated way to solo toprope, plus it has the hideous flaws of too much tension in the system, no slack, and really no good way to bail if you can't do the climb. I DO NOT recommend this.

 

So I moved on...since then I've used a single rope system with two devices. The Rock Exotica Microcender, the Ushba rig, Wild Country rigs, Petzl basic and full ascenders...

 

What really hit home with me was the Petzl Mini-Traxion. This was long before you heard about others using it...obviously most came to the same conclusion as me. This was the device of choice. Uhhhh....until they came out with the Micro-Traxion. Not to imply that Minis aren't perfectly fine...but Micros are better. They are smaller, lighter, tricker...and they don't "stick" to the rope. One flaw with Minis is that if you are trying a climb that is completely desperate for you...that you ultimately can't do...well, you can't even try as hard as you'd like because once you have fallen the Mini will "stick" to the rope. As in, if you can't pull up onto the rock at all...the Mini won't release from the rope and will start to pull the rope up with it. Not a big problem on something you can actually climb, because you can whack the thing with one hand to release it. But on something really desperate you can't let go with either hand to do that, so you have to give up trying the route.

 

Ah...but the Micro does not have this problem! It always releases all by itself! So for me, and I'm sure most others, this is a huge plus.

 

Btw, I weight the rope with a liter and a half water bottle. This gives me water to drink too.

 

Personally, I think static ropes are a poor choice for solo-toproping. I know many use them...and many of those people are far better climbers than I. I still think they are a bad choice. In fact, I don't like static ropes for any climbing purpose at all. I am the ultimate gear slut, currently own maybe 20 ropes. NONE of them are static ropes. Static ropes scare the crap out of me. I can visualize way too many opportunities to die using them. Drop your haul bag on El Cap? Die. Cut your lead line on El Cap? I've had this happen, on The Shield...thank god we had a second Stratos rope as our haul rope that we could take over the lead with. Fall solo-toproping with any slack in the system, or near the anchor? I have a messed up back...no way. How about if you are out solo-toproping and meet someone to climb with? I have met a great friend this way...good thing I didn't have a stupid static rope with me! Or what if you need to solo-lead up Jello Tower or something to set up your solo-TR rig? I just see no point in owning a static rope....with one exception. If you are Alex Honnold (or equivalent) and want to do laps on a 600m cliff or something using one rope...well, I can see that.

 

As to teeth on cams damaging your rope? I've seen this mentioned on numerous threads, and I cry BS. Any damage caused by solo-toproping or jumaring is completely insignificant compared to wear and tear caused by normal climbing...especially lowering off of climbs. I also did an experiment once in my home climbing gym. I had a very old 8mm rope (like 20 years old, beat up). I rigged a factor 4 fall. Well, actually rigged a factor 2...but climbed up a ladder maybe 10 feet above the anchor and hurled a 25 pound weight plate towards the ground as hard as I could...creating what I'm guessing was a factor 4 fall over 20 feet. The rope was held at the anchor by a Mini-Traxion. I did this until the rope broke...well, that was the plan anyway. After 20 hurls I gave up. The rope was completely unscathed.

 

As to the Mini-Traxions and Micro-Traxions having an issue with the cams being able to be locked open, I concur that this is a very significant issue that could kill you. That's one reason I always use two devices...I've had one locked open myself. Both devices can be easily modified with a Dremel...or better yet, in my case a dental lab handpiece...so that they cannot be locked open. I STRONGLY recommend that.

 

Petzl has some wonderful info on their website...which I bow down to them for publishing. Read it. DO NOT USE ONE DEVICE. They make it very clear that multiple people have died using one device. All it takes is your shirt, a piece of webbing, a twig, whatever to fall into the cam, it don't lock, you die.

 

I did like the suggestion of tying a knot in the rope above the ground to prevent a ground fall...but that's easier said than done, and a PITA. Two Micros take like 30 seconds to set up on the ground. One on your belay loop, the other on a half-runner girth hitched to harness (if the climbing is hard near the ground, pre-load them). Sure, I guess it's more like real climbing to use a GriGri or Cinch...but you still better back them up, and honestly this just holds zero interest to me. I've seen people doing it, and after using Mini's or Micro's it just looks annoying.

 

(No offense to anyone, just my opinion)

 

I've found that on particularly hard any/or overhanging routes, using an impromptu chest harness helps. Normally I like half a foot of slack or so in my system to allow for changes in body position without tension. However, there are times you don't want any slack at all. The quickest and easiest solution I have found is to use a double-length Mammut dyneema runner through the carabiner attachment hole in the top Mini or Micro, then around your shoulders. Hey...I forgot to mention DMM Belay Master 2 Carabiners or equivalent. Solo-toperoping is the safest form of climbing that I do. I see no reason to make it anything but crazy safe. I mean, you ARE alone doing it most of the time...and it takes so little gear, effort, or time to make it super bomber. Just do it!

 

Did I say super-bomber? I guess I did! I've gone nuts with this...on single ropes I'm using a Petal Stop to rap, plus I tie a knot in the rope part way down it the start of the rap is awkward (like the Sunshine Wall). Petzl's info has inspired me to use two ropes much of the time. Well, not really two ropes...but one tied into the anchor at the mid-point, me rapping two ropes (better friction), me using a Micro on each rope. I tie the ropes together near the ground with an offset knot where each rope is a slightly different length, then clip in my water bottle in the loop below the knot. That way each rope is weighted the same. Two ropes are especially inspiring if there are any edges that the rope travels over, and/or if you plan on multiple falls.

 

Enough babbling...hope this helps!

 

 

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Sure, I guess it's more like real climbing to use a GriGri or Cinch...but you still better back them up, and honestly this just holds zero interest to me. I've seen people doing it, and after using Mini's or Micro's it just looks annoying.

 

I don't TR solo, only lead rope solo with an Eddy, but like you been doing it for a long time by one means or another (since '75 in my case). But I also second all my pitches and when I do I'm essentially TR soloing. I do this with Eddy, previously with a modded grigri and with knots before that and have done it for thousands of pitches so I'm used to it as completely 'normal'. But, if I were going to go out and just TR solo, I wouldn't use either - I'd do what you suggest and just do the minitrax thing or a rig like OffWhite's in order to better focus on the climbing.

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Solo TR requires complete gear OCD. Add a cell phone to requirements in case of disaster.

 

I prefer a belayer with 10' of slack out and a limp hand on an ATC while chatting with nearby climbers.

Edited by matt_warfield

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I prefer a belayer with 10' of slack out and a limp hand on an ATC while chatting with nearby climbers.

Funny, that's why some folks lead and TR solo a bunch. They get in more laps with less noise, hassle and fuckups.

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Good recommend on a cell phone...I forgot to mention that. Having a cell phone with you, whatever form of climbing you are doing, adds yet another level of safety.

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Several people on MP's thread for solo TR have recommended using a CAMP lift. It seems pretty similar to the Petzl microcender. Does anyone one have personal experience with the Lift? Would it be likely to have similar problems to the Ushba? I was contemplating using a Lift and a Microtraxion so that I had redundancy and one cam-only device with one toothed cam. Thoughts?

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And I think I'm the ultimate gear slut...I hang my head in shame! I'd never even heard of the Lift until you mentioned it. It looks like it works on exactly the same principle as the Ushba...and some other devices that have been on the market. NOT the same as anything Petzl has ever made. But it's almost as light as a Micro-Traxion, and like half the cost. I did used to use the Ushba as my primary device many years ago, back up with a Petal Basic Ascender. You could do something like that, or even back it up with a regular Petzl Ascender. I kinda like the idea of two totally different devices...always have, for ultimate redundancy. It's just after using Mini's and now Micro's for so many years...they really are the ultimate devices. If you use an Ushba, or a Lift, or anything similar...on one rope...make absolutely certain that it's your primary device. If your primary was a Micro-Traxion for instance, and you had a Lift on the same rope as a backup...IT WOULD NOT HOLD. The Micro would slide down the rope, hit the Lift, which would prevent it from torquing properly on the rope and it would also slide. In reverse order, if the Lift slide down and hit the Micro, the cam in the Micro would still hold. If you have not actually seen a Lift or and Ushba you should check them out...they don't actually have cams in them. Hard to describe without seeing one.

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I work on High Rise buildings and do a lot of repairs after completion, and I use a Petzl ASAP, along with a Petzl ID, The ASAP goes up and down, without being locked in place, it's a little more costly, but I hang off 500 ft. Buildings all the time, trust me it works!!!!

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I've been tr soloing with a mini traxion since they came out in in the early 2000's. They caught on pretty quickly in Yosemite where I was living at the time. Since then I'm sure I've put in a couple hundred days with them. Pretty much every hard route I've established I used mini traxs to work out the moves. Most of these routes were at my limit and even above so falling on them is something I'm very acquainted with. I can think of one pitch in particular that took at least 50 attempts before i could do it. I probably fell over 500 times on that pitch alone. In all those years and falls I've only once done damage to my rope. And that one time was one of the few times I've used a dynamic rope. I'm not sure exactly what type of rope it was but more than likely a Sterling Nano or a Beal Joker (around 9.2mm). I remember I wasn't that excited about using that rope but I needed a 70m to get down and it was the only one I had. After numerous falls in the same spot I'd done some minor damage to the sheath. This probably wouldn't of happened with a fatter rope but I don't really use any fatter dynamic ropes. Since most of the routes I mini-traxion on are fairly big ( grade IV or longer) and take weeks and sometimes years to complete its pretty important that I use static ropes to fix everything. Dynamic ropes just don't hold up to the abuse of jumaring, rappelling and mini-traxioning. I've never once wished I was on a pitch and had a dynamic rope. The last major route I did I purchased 1800ft of Sterling Safety Pro 10mm low elongation rope. This has 3.2% stretch and feels pretty good to fall on. I'd stay away from the polyester blends as the elongation can be as low as 1%. I've used one of these ropes and they aren't that much fun to fall on though they are great for jumaring. The best ropes I've found aren't too stiff and aren't too limp. Either one will cause the rope to not slide smoothly.

 

Blake posted a photo of mine in his blog post showing my setup. I still use this setup with one minor change. I drilled a small hole in the top mini-traxion that fits a little key ring. I then use a piece of elastic (old headlamp band) with a barrel toggle to adjust it. I put the elastic over my shoulder just like a shoulder length. This holds the mini-traxion up nice tight and helps with the feeding.

 

IMG_6139.JPG

 

Technicians-4.jpg

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Brian, I've checked those things out on Petzl's website and they look wicked cool...definitely the way to go for your high-rise work! As much as I'd dig trying 'em out, even gear-slut me ain't gonna buy a set. Much heavier and more expensive than Micro-Traxions. I keep my setup in my climbing pack full time because I use it so often, so weight does matter. Plus, that ASAP looks like it does allow you to fall a ways before it catches you (correct me if I'm wrong). That seems like a big issue if climbing hard near the ground or over a ledge. With the Micros you can pre-load the rope to get all stretch out in those situations. Still cool hearing about your use of those though!

 

Wallstein, cool keychain mod!

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Micros.jpg

 

Here are my current fav devices. You can see on the Micro at the bottom where I've milled off the small lockout pin on the back of the cam.

 

Edited by Hummerchine

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