Get Up Get Down (The Art of Rope-Soloing)

Tuesday afternoon, the town is bustling and the crags are quiet. I work early mornings at the local swimming pool in Squamish. As much as I hate crawling out of bed while Justin rolls over for a few more Z’s, I love getting off early.

I used to get frustrated as most people were busy into their day while I got off with an urge to get out doing something.

Until I met the second love of my life… 

Before, when I was lonely for a climbing partner I would just avoid it all together until someone got off work. I didn’t have the motivation to boulder alone or just go out and scope projects.

Then I met the U-ascend by GrandWall Equipment: a spunky little device for ascending a fixed line. Aka the perfect mid day climbing partner! For rope soloing, it is an awesome ascending device that is easy to use and works well paired with a Prusik or autoblock knot as an extra back up. I also connect the bottom of my line to my pack so that the line stays tight and centred with my intended route.

I love rope soloing because it’s really just the rock and I out there. I have time to focus, listen and control my thoughts. I make a conscious effort to watch each move and get in my own rhythm. I do a mix of slab and crack routes to maintain good technique on both.

Rope soloing is different from top roping because it consists of a rope fixed from a top anchor that I ascend alone without a partner to work with. Which at times and on particular routes, can be scary!

On a typical afternoon, I will go out and climb about 10 single pitches. I’ll circle around the Smoke Bluffs climbing park and zip up and down routes. Passing fellow climbers and chatting about rope soloing is a constant event when I go out.

I enjoy the solitude and freedom.

I come from a family of six children. I used to hate being alone but I never had to be growing up as there was always someone home. I never imagined I’d be going out hiking, climbing and exploring on my own like I do now.

Along with my trusty Weimaraner, Doc, I will spend hours getting completely absorbed in my solo activities.

When you spend a few days a week rope-soloing it makes going out with a partner something to be thankful for and cherish. I still make sure to get out lots with a partner so I can lead some trad as that would be slightly sketchy and tricky alone!

If you haven’t tried rope-soloing there are tons of great articles and people out there to help you along!

Check out:

http://www.grandwallequipment.ca/products/hauling_gear/u_ascend.html

http://www.climbing.com/skill/solo-toproping/

http://www.petzl.com/en/Sport/General-principles-for-solo-climbing-with-a-fixed-belay-rope?ActivityName=Multi-pitch-climbing#.VTbnsa1Viko

http://www.gearinstitute.com/gear-news/industry-news/item/ho

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Erik says:

    This is something I’d really like to try! Do you have an opinion on using the petzl mini traxxion pulley? And do you normally use a static rope while rope soloing? I love your blog by the way! Have a lovely day. I’d love to get your advice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Erik!

      Thanks so much! I am so glad you like my blog!

      I prefer to use the U-ascend by Grandwall Equipment as it puts less wear and tear on my rope.
      The Petzle mini has some small teeth that provide protection but can also damage your rope with prolonged use. I like the U-ascend as it does not do any damage to your system and provides an easy, quick change over.

      As far as rope type goes, I am still using a dynamic rope for soloing. I like to clip my backpack to my rope at the bottom of the route to provide some tension and direction while ascending. Let me know what you end up trying and how it goes for you! Remember if you are worried you can always back each device up with a knot or second ascender. Good luck and have fun!!!

      SM

      Like

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