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|Top roping refers to a belay from above. This doesn't
necessarily mean that the belayer is above the climber -
on the contrary. When the belayer is above the climber,
the climber is usually seconding the route. Top
roping is when the anchor that the rope is connected to
is above the climber.
In the situation at right, the climber is seconding a climb. When a climber is seconding, the leader has already reached a belay stance/rappel point. The leader is at the top of the route that the climber is climbing, belaying them.
A top rope situation that is found in a gym most commonly is when the rope is already looped over a anchor at the top of the route. Both ends of the rope hang down. The belayer attaches one end of the rope to their belay device, and the climber ties onto the other end.
Top roping is great for learning to climb because the possibility of injury when falling is very slim, especially indoors. You also don't have to worry about clipping protection on your way up, therefore allowing full use of your hands.
|Leading is when the climber is tied on
to what is known at the sharp end of the rope.
The climber that is leading is called the leader. Instead
of having a fixed anchor at the top of the route, the
leader clips into several different anchors on the way up
the route. These anchors can be traditional protection,
such as a nut,
or a bolt drilled into the wall with a hangar attached.
The leader clips protection as they reach it, and then move on. If there is a long distance between to pieces of protection, it is called a runout. Runouts can be dangerous because they increase the chance of injury in a fall, and they increase the fall factor and shock force placed on the protection.
Examine the picture at right (click on it for a larger image). If the leader falls from where they are at that moment, they will fall twice the length of rope that is out from their last piece of protection (the orange webbing). Why twice the length? Take for example, a climber that is four feet above their last piece of protection. They have to fall to their piece of protection, and then another four feet because of the length of rope that is out. It is also normal to add about 10% of the length as well, for additional stretching of the rope and other factors.
Using bolts and hangars for anchors while leading is the most common form of protection. A bolt connecting a hangar to the rock is usually between 1/4" and 1/2" in diameter. Quickdraws are used to clip to the hangar, and then to clip to the rope.
Traditional protection is used in cracks and flakes for anchors. Traditional protection placement is one of the most difficult aspects of climbing to learn. You can learn more about the different types of traditional pro from the section on traditional pro in the Equipment section of our web site.[an error occurred while processing this directive]