How to Clean a Route

How to Clean a Route
After you set a top rope on a sport route and allow everyone to climb, you will need to clean the route. Cleaning a route refers to removing all gear used to set the top rope. Cleaning a route is much more involved than setting the top rope, and proper technique must be employed to ensure safety. Always practice on the ground and make sure you are comfortable with the process before attempting to clean a route.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Harness Slings carabiners
  • Harness
  • Slings
  • carabiners
Step 1
Tie in to the top rope.
Step 2
Make sure you have all the necessary gear hooked into your harness before you begin climbing. You will need two long slings attached to carabiners. Secure them to your belay loop, on either side of your rope. You will also need an extra carabiner on the side of your harness.
Step 3
Climb the route with the top rope as you normally would.
Step 4
Find a secure position when you reach the top. Take each of the slings and hook the carabiners into the rings at the top. If there are multiple rings attached to the anchors, use the center rings.
Step 5
Double check to make sure that both slings are attached to the anchors and to your harness. Sit back and test your weight on the slings.
Step 6
Ask your belayer for ten feet of slack. Pull the rope up and tie an overhand knot, leaving a large loop. Take the extra carabiner at your side and use it to attach this loop to the side of your harness. Now, if you drop the rope, it will still be attached to your harness.
Step 7
Untie the rope from the belay loop on your harness. Remove the rope from the quick draws that are hooked into the anchors. The rope is now free except for the knot that is clipped into the side of your harness.
Step 8
Feed the rope through the center rings that are attached to the anchors.
Step 9
Retie your figure-eight knot and tie the rope back into your harness. Double-check to make sure that the rope is running through both rings and that the end is tied into your harness.
Step 10
Remove the knot from the carabiner at the side of your harness and untie the knot. Drop the rope and ask your belayer for tension.
Step 11
Remove the quick draws that were holding the rope.
Step 12
Double-check that the rope is secure before unclipping the slings from the bolts. Make sure there is tension on the rope, unhook your slings, and communicate to your belayer that you are ready to be lowered.

Tips & Warnings

If there are no rings connected to the bolts, you will have to run the rope directly through the anchors. If they are sharp, you may want to repel rather than have your belayer lower you in order to protect your 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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