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. We have also added in some videos and links to other useful sites. This information is best used in conjunction with one of our courses and not as a stand alone guide.

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 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.

How to check anchors

Sling set up A

basic sling set up landscape

Advantages Disadvantages
Quick

Only need a 2 krabs and sling (cheap)

Simple (less likely to make a mistake)

Slings are easily damaged

Very little adjustment in the sling

 Sling set up B – Sling doubled up

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advantages Disadvantages
Quick

Only need a 1 krab and sling (cheap)

Simple (less likely to make a mistake)

Slings are easily damaged

Very little adjustment in the sling

 Rope set up A

This is the method shown in the BMC videos. It works well with a shorter rope but if you have a long rope the stopper knot can be very tricky to tie.

short rope set up

Advantages Disadvantages
Simple – only need to be able to tie a figure 8 knot

Even less equipment needed (1 krab and rope)

Simple (less likely to make a mistake)

Can use around trees if there are no bolts present.

Very adjustable

Possible to make a mistake as you are tying the knots.

Although simple, adjusting the length the rope can be very tricky.

If using a long rope, tying a stopper knot can take a long time.

Rope set up 

Step 1                                                                                      Step 2

Y hand simple 1

Y hang simple 2

 

 

Advantages Disadvantages
Allows you to remove the need for a one of the stopper knots

Two ropes running over the edge reduces risk of damaging ropes

Two ropes means that there is a back up rope

Works on all bolts

Requires more equipment (two krabs and a rope)

More complex – more options for error

Need to be able to tie a clove hitch too

This set up can also be done on trees. The figure of eight is tied around the tree and the krab with the clove hitch on can be clipped to the figure of eight loop.

Note – this MUST NOT  be done with a bowline knot. 

Rope set up (advanced)

y hang simple finished with text

Advantages Disadvantages
Allows you to remove the need for a one of the stopper knots

Two ropes running over the edge reduces risk of damaging ropes

Uses two anchors points

Rigging ropes can be adjusted to move the climbing ropes left and right.

Two ropes and two anchors means there is an independent back up.

Requires more equipment (two krabs and a rope)

Most Complex – must understand 90 degree rule

Need to be able to tie a clove hitch too.

Can be ‘adjusted’ to a less safe option

 Protecting the top move of a climb

kent-climbing-courses-setup
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). To see this in action, watch the BMC video at the bottom of this page.

Other methods to set up a climb – for reference. 

setup-clove500x299
Simple rope set up using a standard figure 8 knot for attachment of krab and climbing rope and a clove hitch to attach the rigging rope to the bolts.
setup-bowline500x299
Same method as above but a Bowline is attached to the bolt instead of the clove hitch. This removes the need for one of the krabs.
setup-bowlineshort-500x299
Similar to above but this time the extra rope if coming from the figure 8 knot. See below to see how this extra rope can be used.
sussex-climbing-setup
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.

setup-poor
Girth/strop hitch – This is linking slings without krabs using a girth or strope 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.
setup-bowlineshort-500x299
No using rope protectors – Slings and ropes can be quickly damaged, even within a single day. Always use a bit of carpet or a rope protector
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.
setup-krabent500x299
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
indipendence.jpg
This set up means that if either bolt fails, the whole system will fail. 
3waypull.jpg
This is a three way pull on a krab. Krabs are weak in this position. 

 

More info 

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/top-5-skills-for-southern-sandstone

http://www.southernsandstoneclimbs.co.uk/

 

 

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