Top Rope Solo Setup

Sometimes you just want to be alone, right? You also want to be climbing, which is typically done with a partner to belay you. There are techniques for climbing on your own with a rope to prevent you falling to the ground. Unlike Alex Honnold I think it’s nice to have a rope to save you. I would not advise a new climber to go rope solo, it takes some knowledge in rope technique and rope management. There are typically two ways to climb alone with a rope: Lead solo and top rope solo. Same as when climbing with a partner: lead climbing is a bigger challange and generates more dramatic falls. Start with a top rope!

Petzl Devices
There are as many variants of doing this as there is climbers out there (almost), the general principle is to have a system you can overview easy, back it up and understand what could generate issues. Petzl have a few guides on how to use their products as progress capture devices. Petzl General guidelines, Petzl setup 1 , Petzl Devices overview

My system is a variation of Petzl system. I use a Micro Traxion and a GriGri, that makes it fast and easy to transition to rapelling. Also it is devices that I previously owned.

Rapelling with my TR Solo setup. Traxion cam is open, backup knots on the white line.

Top Rope Solo: 2 ropes, 2 devices
My setup is focused on security and might be overkill. But it works good for me.
I use two ropes on a top rope anchor; one static 10mm line and one dynamic rope 9,5 mm. On the static rope I attach the Micro Traxion with a oval carabiner on the belay loop. The Traxion is held up by a shock cord around my neck (do not use slings or something that can hurt you in a fall). This makes a fall minimal, just a couple of centimeters. That is why I use static line for the Traxion, a potential fall length is minimal. If I would have used the Traxion on the dynamic rope there would be more movement of rope in the cam and I think that would wear the rope more. The cam consists of several metal teeth and I’ve seen videos of big falls on rope where the teeth shears the sheath of the rope. On the dynamic line I connect a GriGri2 (no modifications) with a DMM Belay Master 2 on a short sling girth hitched to my harness tie in points. I weigh down the rope with a half empty water bottle or similar, and when climbing the rope feed through the GriGri flawlessly. This would not work with an old scruffy rope with a worn sheath. So the dynamic rope is my backup to the Traxion, and they are totally independent on each other. At the top I can rapell down with the GriGri and lock the cam in open on the Micro Traxion. On the way up I do a few backup knots.

Top rope solo system weighted. Micro Traxion and GriGri

Gear I use
30 m dynamic rope 9,5 mm
30 m static rope 10,5 mm
Petzl GriGri with a DMM BelayMaster2
Petzl Micro Traxion with a DMM Oval Keylock girth hitched with a 30 cm nylon sling
Anchor building: 4-5 Locking carabiners, 2-3 Slings (120-180cm)
Rope protector! (or redirect the force from the climber on the anchor below sharp edges)

Micro Expeditions plans for summer 2019

It feels like spring is here in Stockholm so ideas for summer start to bloom. This is a few ideas, hopefully all of them can be executed.

Trail running 190km on Roslagsleden
Roslagsleden is a trail north of Stockholm, it’s 190km long and well marked. Windbreaks, water sources and resupplies are scattered along the way. That makes lightweight traveling possible. The idea is to bring essential gear, sleep in windbreaks, get food along the way in cafés or grocery stores and run the whole trail in 3-4 days. 2-3 nights out. That would be ~48 or ~64 km per day. I think that would be possible. I would pack sleeping bag, sleeping mat and some clothes in my Inov-8 Race Elite 24.

Glacier travel and alpinism in Kebenekaise
Last year I did a glacier travel course, and then climbed Kebnekaise from Nygrens led. This year the plan is to have a mobile camp and camp higher up in the mountain. Do longer linked traverses around Tarfala and Kebnekaise area. Kaskasapakte looks like a nice climb.

SUP Overnight trip
I’ve done two overnight trips on stand up paddleboard before. But just one night and short distances. The idea for this summer is to use Stockholms excellent archipelago transport system to get out easy with an inflatable stand up paddle board and then set of with a clear plan of where to find fresh water. There’s shops etc scattered in the Stockholm archipelago to it wont be to hard to find water and food.

Sailing to Gotland and Gotska sandön
I sail go to Visby for work in the summer, but the plan is to continue afterwards to Gotska Sandön, if weather and waves permit we take the SUP boards to shore and visit the nature reserve Gotska Sandön with it’s unique nature.

Solo climbing – NO NOT Free Solo.
I’ve done a fair amount of top rope solo with a GriGri and Micro Traxion. If you are a climber you know that top rope climbing is limiting in access and excitement. I’m going to try to lead solo on easy routes, mainly in Stockholm area. But the best trad climbing nearby is Simonsberget in Tunaberg, where I will try to spend some time this spring and summer. Andy Kirkpatrick a british big wall climber writes a lot of great material about climbing and gear.