Monday, September 7, 2015

What have we learned?

With just over a year of observations, it is fair to ask if there are any conclusions that suggest themselves. There have been changes in how people learn to top rope safely, and what they do with that information.
  1. Mentorship, learning from more experienced climbers is pretty much dead.
  2. Clubs now stress formal training, not mentorship.
  3. Most people learn from paid instructors (“certified”,“professional”, aren’t meaningful), most of what they learn, they don’t practice.
  4. The only thing most people learn is to have 2 anchors.
  5. The Internet is a source of stunning misinformation.
  6. Real climbing gear retailers are an endangered species, chain stores don’t employ knowledgeable people, and online retailers don’t really engage the customer.
Top rope anchors used to be made from 3/8” static rope, or, less preferable 1” webbing. Most static rope carried by retailers is thinner, and much of it doesn’t meet UIAA standards for static (less than 5% stretch under low impact). HMS (pear shaped) carabiners were designed for the Munter Hitch, they are prone to side loading in a top rope rig. People assume that any gear advertised for climbing is safe for top roping.

The most important element of climbing safety is critical thinking.


  1. Why don't you put up some instructional videos or guides? You have readership that are newbies when it comes to top rope anchors and they could learn from your online mentorship. You can help to counteract most of the problems you highlight in this post.

  2. I guess that's the next step, videos are the source of some of the stranger practices seen here. Curiously, earlier posts on how to properly rig a top rope and which anchors at Carderock were unsafe and why got very few readers.

    1. So because you didn't get many readers on your "how to" post, you decide to not do them instead of making better ones? Sounds like people who make bad anchors that don't die, and then continue to make bad anchors.

      Add some content, instead of critique-less criticism!