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4 Repositioning, Threading the Rope, and Lowering

4 Repositioning, Threading the Rope, and Lowering

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Lead Climbing

a) The classic or normal method

of threading takes a little longer

than the blunt method (see

later) but is easier to follow for

most: The climber has fixed

himself, as described above, and

pulls in enough rope—about

3 m. He now attaches the rope

with a clove hitch to his harness

using either a quickdraw or a

carabiner (Photos 232-235).

Alternatively he can use a onesided overhand bend knot

(Photos 236-238). However, the

clove hitch is easier and quicker

to undo because you can do it

with one hand.

Photos 232-234: Tying the clove hitch






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Rock Climbing



The climber then unties himself, opening the roping-up knot, threads the end

of the rope through the ring or locking chain link, and then does it up again

(Photos 239-241). It does not necessarily have to be fixed to the leg strap or the

waist-strap eye on the harness; it can also be fixed to the roping-up loop just as

well. Similarly, you can tie a one-sided overhand bend at the end of the rope and

attach this with a locking carabiner to the roping-up loop. Again, the carabiner

must be locked immediately afterwards.


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Lead Climbing






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Rock Climbing

The climber now loosens the onesided overhand bend (Photo 242) and

calls out “Off belay!” He puts weight

on his personal anchor sling and waits

for the response from his partner, “On

belay!”, and on the tightening of the

rope to know that he is again hanging

in to the belayer’s protection point.

After a final check to see if everything

is threaded properly and that he is

tied in correctly, he unclips from the

anchor point and calls out “down!”

(Photos 243 and 244)




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Lead Climbing244

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Rock Climbing

b) The quicker version is the blunt-threading method of threading (Photos 245252). The climber secures himself and pulls in enough rope. He threads the

rope with a loop through the ring. He now ties a one-sided overhand bend

with a large loop and attaches this to the locking carabiner on the tie-in loop

on his harness, locking the gate right away. The climber then unties the rope

and calls to the belayer below, “Off belay!” The procedure from here is the

same as described in a) above.

CAUTION: During the lowering, the belayer must carefully observe the climber so

that he can stop giving out rope as the climber gathers the quickdraws. In addition,

the belayer must constantly watch the remainder of the rope so that no twists or

knots block the belaying device. Similarly, he watches the end of the rope so that it

doesn’t run out before the climber has reached the ground safely. What happens next

is described on Page 62.




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Lead Climbing








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Rock Climbing


In contrast to gym climbing, rappelling is a basic part of the skills to be learned for

outdoor rock climbing, since it is often the only possibility to gain solid ground

back under the feet again!

As a rule, the mechanics of repositioning at anchor points and rappelling should

be learned on the ground under supervision, and only then applied to a complete

climb on an easy route.



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Preparation and Repositioning

at Anchor Points

If you are going to rappel, the lead climber must carry the following equipment

on his harness (Photo 254):

• A rappelling device: A Figure Eight plus a locking carabiner or tuber plus HMS.

Do not use a slim locking carabiner with the tuber, because when rappelling,

the bend of the tuber tends to trap the rope. To avoid this, the rope and the

tuber must be attached to the broader side of the HMS carabiner (i.e., quite

the opposite to using the tuber on protection points) (see Page 145). The

Figure Eight is carried with the larger eyelet in the locking carabiner on the


• A self-securing sling with a locking carabiner: This should be as small as

possible and have a small shank diameter so that it can be used on very small

protection point bolts or in an emergency connected to a link chain. This is

particularly important when cleaning an uncompleted route (see Page 166 ff.),

because in these cases the locking carabiner has to be fitted together with a

quickdraw or a rope onto the hook (Photo 255). The HMS carabiner is too

thick for this.

• A Prusik loop 5 or 6 mm together with a locking carabiner. Having a second

Prusik loop of a different diameter loop as reserve is also useful.




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Rock Climbing

At the top, first the personal protection sling is attached onto a secure anchor

point. If two bolts are available, the upper one should be used (Photo 256). In

this way there is sufficient room below the belay point to thread the rope and

reposition yourself (cf., Chapter 4.3, Page 132 ff.).

If the anchor point consists of just one bolt with a single ring, the self-securing

sling and the rope are both attached to this (Photo 257). If the bolt has two

rings or a separate chain link, the self-securing sling is attached to the upper ring

(Photo 258) or directly in the bolt (Photo 259). The ring or chain link is used later

for the rope.

You now put weight on the personal protection sling. To do this, lean or step back

until the sling is tense and then call out the command, “Off belay!” The belayer

removes the protection for the lead climber and calls back, “Belay off!” He then

remains at his stand and watches the lead climber and his further actions. The

lead climber now gathers some rope and feeds a loop of it through a free chain

link or the free ring. He threads the rope through the anchor pulley until he

reaches the middle marking on the rope or his belayer calls out, “Rope out!” This

is when the lower end of the rope is still just on the ground.

CAUTION: When the command “Rope out!” is heard and the middle marking on

the rope is still well below the anchor pulley, the rope is too short for rappelling. The

climber must therefore come part way down and construct a rappel anchor, and

rappel from there to the ground.

The lead climber now unties from the rope and pulls the remainder of the rope

through the chain link or ring. He then ties a knot in the end of the rope, and

after calling out “Rope!” he throws the rope parallel to the other strand in the

direction of the start of the climb. Especially in easy routes that are not very

steep the rope will not land directly on the ground, but often gets caught up

somewhere on the rocks. (It is not necessary to pull up the rope and try again, as

the rope will normally come free when rappelling. One should just watch out for

loops and knots and untangle them before rappelling further.) Now, the climber

prepares the rappeling device. He starts with the short Prusik sling.


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