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Cleaning a Top Rope Anchor

Here are some instructions about how to “clean” a bolted top rope anchor.

Climbing is dangerous, seek professional instruction- I’m not responsible for you!

Cleaning an anchor requires these basic steps: climb the route and remove protection/ quickdraw, etc; connect to the anchor; remove your equipment (typ 2 quickdraws); get back to the ground. Getting back to the ground is usually accomplished by the belayer lowering the climber through the rings of the bolted anchor, or by rappelling.

Lowering

Lowering steps:
1. Climb to top of climb
2. “TAKE!” Weight is on the rope.
3. Connect slings from harness to each bolt, lock carabiners.
4. “SLACK!” Slack is fed out, weight is now on slings.
5. “SLACK!” Pull up another 6 feet of rope, tie it off on a bite, connect it (w/ carabiner) to harness (temporary knot).
6. Untie the climbing knot (typ figure 8 ) from your harness.
7. Feed rope through rings (anchor).
8. Tie back into harness with a figure 8 through the belay loop.
9. Untie the temporary knot.
10. Remove quickdraws from anchor.
11. “Take!” Belayer takes up rope. Weight is now on climbing rope. Slings should be loose.
12. “I’m on you!” disconnect slings from bolts.
13. “Ready to lower!” Lower to the ground.

Rappelling steps:

1. Climb to top of climb

2. “TAKE!” Weight is on the rope.

3. Connect slings from harness to each bolt, lock carabiners.

4. “SLACK!” Slack is fed out, weight is now on slings.

5. “OFF BELAY!” Pull up another 6 feet of rope, tie it off on a bite, connect it (w/ carabiner) to harness (temporary knot).

6. Untie the climbing knot (typ figure 8 ) from your harness.

7. Feed rope through rings (anchor).

8. Continue feeding rope through until both sides of rope are on the ground, or until you reach the middle of the rope.

9. Untie the temporary knot.

10. Remove quickdraws from anchor.

11. Connect to rope as for rappelling. Pull up slack to weight the rope, not the slings.

12. “On rappel!” disconnect slings from bolts.

13. Rappel to the ground.

ZeroPly - DO NOT DO IT THIS WAY! You will be lowering yourself through fixed gear and wearing it down severely. At least in my neck of the woods, this will earn you a well-deserved reaming from more experienced climbers.

When you get to the top, untie the fig 8 from your harness as in the instructions, but feed the rope through both anchors until both ends hit the ground. Rappel down on both strands. That way the only wear on the fixed anchors will be an unweighted rope pulling through them.

This is a pet peeve of mine because uneducated climbers are reading howtos like this and wearing the f*ck out of the anchors.June 8, 2009 – 8:01 pm

Eli Powell - Yo Zero- Thanks for the input. Yeah, if you read the whole article, you'd see rapping was also covered.

Top roping on the anchors is a big no-no because the repeated falls cause wear. However, lowering off of rings is generally accepted as it is a quicker and sometimes safer way to clean an anchor. Yes, this causes some wear on the anchor, but much less than TRing.June 8, 2009 – 9:16 pm

Tom Patterson - Nice tutorial. I’d add just a few comments:

1. You can’t lower both ends of the rope to the ground until the temporary knot has been undone. Because of this…

2. You should tie a knot in the end of the rope you lower (or rig it with a backup prussik to your harness) in case the weight of the rope that’s already to the ground pulls it through the rings if you’re a bit careless. It’d suck to be up there anchored to the bolts with no rope on which to rap;

3. You should check, re-check, and check again every aspect of your rig and process, as there are multiple points of failure (that will most likely prove fatal) if not done EXACTLY right.

Just adding some thoughts to what I think is a generally good description.

Cheers!May 10, 2011 – 8:21 am

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