With the gorgeous weather we had this weekend, 5 participants took to the cliffs of Lower West Bolton with Petra Cliffs Guide Tim Farr to work on Top Rope Anchor Building and Recognition skills. With a varying level of experience among the group, it was a fantastic weekend of introducing new skills for some, while for others it was a needed refresher. Being such a nice weekend, the cliff was busy with a lot of other recreational climbers looking to pull down and enjoy a day of top roping. This was great as we got to see several anchor set-ups that those climbers felt were safe to climb on. And while minor tweaks could be made, or the efficiency of the anchors improved, all-in-all this was a good weekend. Two thumbs up!
This weekend’s clinic started early Saturday morning and lasted into the late afternoon. A lot of information was covered and set-up skills practiced. The major objective for the group was to be able to tie and identify the appropriate knots, incorporate those knots into the appropriate places in an anchor and identify the different parts and materials of a top-rope anchor. Along with being able to identify an anchor that does or does not meet the acronym SERENEA. Look at an older post for a description here: Top Rope Construction and Recognition Post
By the late afternoon, the participants were setting up their own anchors for the group to asses and offer constructive feedback on the good and the bad. The evening ended with a lot of information for the group to digest and even a little bit of homework for Sunday.
Sunday morning we reviewed what was covered the day before, then discussed and demonstrated more anchor building and how to use as little as possible of your materials while still maintaining a solid anchor to top rope on. Tim demonstrated the multiple uses a single 50-75 foot static rope can have for anchor set-up and access. Not only for strength and ease of access around a cliff safely, but the ability to maintain minimal abrasion on your climbing rope and even extend the master point well over the edge so the belayer can see the master point if necessary. Then the challenge came, pick a couple of routes and set-up anchors on them that we would then climb on. Tim encouraged the participants to think critically about the set-up and think about the usefulness of access lines and whether to use the pre-placed bolts (and how to recognize the good, the bad and the suspect bolts) or if it would be better to extend the anchor further below and use natural anchors or a combination of the two.
While everyone in the group had been top-roping before in the traditional way with both climber and belayer on the ground, heading out with a guide allows you to learn tips and tricks such as how to manage a top managed site if necessary; allowing you to still top rope a 50 meter climb with a single 60 meter rope. The participants even got to see and discuss how to safely go into a hands-free rappel after setting up your top rope and discussed why you may choose to rappel instead of choosing to walk-off and around. The day ended and everyone was encouraged to get out and practice the skills they just learned. And some did immediately. Emily and Nick (from NY and NH) stuck around afterwards to climb some of the classics Lower West Bolton has to offer.
It was a great weekend with a lot of learning taking place. Thanks Wendie, Paul, Emily, Nick and Allesandra.