Bowles rocks south east england

Setting up climbs on Southern Sandstone

As a follow up to our rock climbing courses, we have created this post to remind people of some of the skills taught on the course. This information is best used in conjunction with one of our courses and not as a stand alone guide.

As of Autumn 2021 the BMC have changed their guidance for setting up on Southern Sandstone. Before, it was recommended that people can clip one bolt  for the set up (as this single bolt is backed up by another bolt). This is no longer recommended. Climbers should set up a equalised anchor system, as is common practice in the rest of the UK. 

Personal safety

It’s imperative that we stay safe at the top of the rocks. As well as simple actions such as moving with care/sitting down when you can, we recommend that people wear a harness whilst setting up. This allows you to clip a short sling or rope into your harness belay loop which can then be clipped into a bolt. Make sure that this is short enough so that it stops you from falling off.

You may have noticed that we wear helmets but many other people don’t. Bowles has a legal duty of care to look after you whilst you are on our courses. Once you are no longer climbing with instruction, this is your choice. The risk of a rock falling or another climber dropping a krab on your head might be low, but it is still present.

Rope set up

y hang simple finished with text

 Protecting the top move of a climb

Here you can see a set up but note the extra krab and sling at the top. This can be used to clip your climbing rope into when you reach the top of the climb (leave the rope in the original krab too). 
In this case two clove hitchs are used to attach the rope to the anchors. It is REALLY important that the angle between the two ropes (a) is not more than 90 degrees.

Common Mistakes on sandstone

It’s impossible to list all the mistakes that are possible. Stick with what you have been shown on the course. Below is a list of the most common errors seen.

Girth/strop hitch – This is linking slings without krabs using a girth or strop hitch. These are inherently weak knots and should be avoided in this situation. Using a rigging rope is a much better alternative to linking slings.
linked krabs
Linking krabs – Sometimes you see people clipping two krabs together. There is no need for this and it increases the chance of krabs becoming undone/forgetting to do one up.
Krabs bending over the cliff edge. This can cause the krab to snap! Make sure the krab is hanging vertically over the edge of the cliff.


Death triangle with cross
American Death triangle


This set up means that if either bolt fails, the whole system will fail. 


This is a three way pull on a krab. Krabs are weak in this position. 


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