How to Extend the Top Rope When Rock Climbing

How to Extend the Top Rope When Rock Climbing
Top roping is usually the safest method of climbing, requiring the least technical knowledge to set up and carry out. Most beginner climbers start out top roping, then later learn how to rig a top rope setup, and finally move on to more complicated and technical aspects of climbing like lead climbing. There's actually quite a bit to the supposedly "basic" art of building top rope anchors, and one of the most important concepts is that the part of the anchor the rope runs through must be extended over the edge of a climb so that the rope runs as freely as possible. At the same time, you must be aware of any forces the anchor, and the anchor extension you build, may be subjected to.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • 2 or more slings of equal length
  • 4 or more carabiners
Step 1
Construct your top rope anchor as usual, making sure that it follows the RENE (some climbers prefer SRENE, with the S standing for Secure) principle (see Resources). Make sure there are two carabiners--either non-lockers with the gates reversed and opposed, or lockers with the gates again reversed and opposed--at the master point of the anchor.
Step 2
Clip a sling into each of the master point carabiners. The slings should both be of equal length, long enough to extend over the lip of the climb.
Step 3
Clip two more carabiners--once again, reversed and opposed--into the slings. Each carabiner should go through both extension slings. Make sure that the carabiners hang freely without rubbing against protrusions or being loaded over edges.
Step 4
Run the rope through the carabiners at the ends of the extension slings. Double-check the system to make sure that all locking carabiners are locked and all non-lockers are doubled up with gates reversed and opposed. Tug the rope through the carabiners in both directions, taking into account where the climber and belayer would each most likely be throughout the climb, and watch for any sharp edges or rough surfaces the rope or--very important--the extension slings might be pulled across.
Step 5
Pad any sharp edges or rough, abrasive portions of rock, both underneath the rope and, most critically of all, underneath the extension slings, with small pieces of carpet attached to the anchor system with light cordage.

Tips & Warnings

Anchor slings can actually be more susceptible to abrasion than a climbing rope, so always check for and pad any sharp edges or rough areas. If you're concerned about your ability to do so, you can build the same anchor system using lengths of static rope (as opposed to normal, dynamic climbing rope) instead of slings.
Rock climbing is, by its inherent nature, a very dangerous hobby. Even if you do everything right, it's still impossible to eliminate all risk. Always seek expert, in-person guidance if you're not sure of your techniques or abilities.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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