How to Set a Top Rope on a Sport Climb

How to Set a Top Rope on a Sport Climb
Top ropes can easily be set on outdoor sport routes to allow other climbers to ascend the route without having to clip in. Top roping an outdoor route is particularly useful when you are climbing with younger or beginning-level climbers, or with a large group. Always practice and make sure that you are comfortable with the procedures before attempting to set a top rope. Any mistakes made in outdoor climbing could put the lives of yourself and others in jeopardy.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Rope Harness Quickdraws
  • Rope
  • Harness
  • Quickdraws
Step 1
Before climbing, make sure that you have all the necessary equipment on your harness. You will need enough quickdraws to climb the route as well as two to set the rope at the top.
Step 2
Climb the route, clipping in as you normally would.
Step 3
When you reach the top, find a secure position and hook one quickdraw into each of the anchors at the top. The draws should be opposing, or facing away from each other.
Step 4
Maintaining a firm handhold, ask your belayer for a little bit of slack. Clip the rope into each of the draws.
Step 5
Double check to make sure that the rope is clipped into both draws and that the draws are opposing.
Step 6
Ask your belayer for tension and descend. On the way down, make sure to remove your gear from the cliff face. If the route is overhanging, you can keep yourself close to the face by leaving a draw attached to the climber-side rope, and hooking the other end into the wall-side rope. The draw will descend with you. The top rope is now safe to be used by other climbers.

Tips & Warnings

Be sure to clip directly into the anchors and not the rings attached to the anchors. The rings will need to be clear to use when cleaning the route.
Never run a rope directly through the anchors. Anchors tend to be sharp and will wear down the rope.

Article Written By Karen Eisenbraun

Karen Eisenbraun has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Knox College and has been writing professionally since 2004. She is the editor of a weight-loss surgery support website and is currently studying to become a certified holistic nutrition consultant.

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