Went out to Joshua Tree yesterday, tried out a Top Rope solo rig for the first time. Jtree is really the best place for TR soloing. There are a lot of walls that have a walk off approach/decent for single pitch trad climbs. Partners are (in some ways) more safe than top rope soloing. I just like the aspect that I have no time or personal pressure to perform well or fast. Whenever I sport or trad with a partner. I just feel more pressured than if I boulder with a group or by myself. I also just enjoy experiencing the rock & environment by myself sometimes. Also, the fact that I go to Joshua Tree on Thursdays, and most of the time no one is available. Funny irony of that is when I was TR Soloing in Real Hidden Valley, I got a few people offering up as partners because they saw me climbing by myself. Ha
First TR setup on Cyclops [5.3] walk to the top, set anchor, equalize, fig-8 to two oval lockers, tossed a single line down… wrapped down with overhand knots in, flaked excess rope to weight down rope (so it can feeds through my grigri relatively easy). Lastly, go do some rock climbing and not die.
I used a grigri2, feeding worked pretty well on it. No issues, even at the bottom of the climb. Love the fact that I can climb and rap down if I wanna do laps on the route, which isn’t possible with other asenders. In which you have to reach anchors, PAS in, switch out to rap device, etc. I also took some test falls while on cyclops, only sketch thing is that if there is some slack on a system one sudden fall the grigri didn’t catch until half a foot of slack slipped through the system. This only happened once out of all the intended falls I took.
Leading to an improvement I want to adjust: a chest harness. Which is my critique in that a chest harness is probably a better idea when falling. While the grigri is on your harness belt there is still slack (maybe 2ft or so) when you take a fall, even though the rope is taught when climbing. When you climb the grigri is below your crotch but when falling the grigri lands about chest height. Also a negative that it the grigri flops around on the carabiner. On another test fall the grigri was at an awkward position on the locker. So when a sudden weighed fall happened, the grigri had to snap back onto the end position. I found that a BD Screwgate Carabiner worked better in this issue. I havent tried it yet, but a screw link might be the best choice with both of these issues.
After a couple laps on Cyclops I headed out to Real Hidden Valley to do cracks on Sports Challenge Wall, did laps on couple 5.9 then ended the day on Clean & Jerk [5.10c]. Set directionals and hung a lot ha.
The fun scary part is setting anchor, equalizing it.. and then climbing down, hanging and weighing it to set the rope to rap off. Every time i have the “oh shiz, oh shiz, please hold, please hold” moment. Your completely exposed until you are indirect with the grigri & rope.
Open to critiques, and techniques others use for top rope soloing. How is your TR solo set up, with what gear?