The Pre-thread Toprope
Setting up an anchor-friendly toprope
You’re climbing outdoors with novice friends, and you want to rig a toprope from a fixed-chain anchor. You’re the only one in the group who can safely install and clean a toprope setup, but you loath having to climb each route twice—once to hang the rope, and once to clean the anchor and rap from the chains. It’s tempting to thread the rope through the chains and lower off, letting everyone toprope through the fixed hardware. Don’t—it’s a sin and you know it. Repeated lowering will wear out the chain or rings faster than any other abuse.Instead, go ahead and thread the anchor chains, but then clip quickdraws to the bolts or higher chain links and run the rope up through your draws, so the rope weights your own biners, not the chain links (Fig. A). Be sure to oppose the gates of the carabiners or use lockers. When the last person to climb removes the quickdraws, he or she will already be attached to the anchor through the chains, with no need to untie and re-thread. This way, you’re lowering just one person off the anchor, not an entire gang.
If the chains are shorter than your quickdraws, you can often get away with just clipping biners through higher links and running the rope through these (Fig. B); lockers are best. Watch your angles, and don’t use this method if the chains are pulled at more than a 90-degree angle, or if the rope feeds awkwardly in any way. If the anchors simply have rap rings on the bolts, you’ll have to climb and clean the old-fashioned way.