when rock climbing how do climbers get their hook/anchor above them to climb up?


Does the first climber do it bit by bit until those behind have a decent distance to climb? In my head they’re climbing using a rope that’s anchored 20 feet above them. If so, how does it get there?

In: 272


Someone has to go up there to place the anchor and equipment. Before that, the climber just goes without equipment above, but should still be safely secured to equipment below.

The rope is just a safety rope. They do not use it to climb. It is technically harder to climb with a safety rope then without because you have to set all the anchors while also climbing. The safety rope does not have to be anchored above the climber to be effective. It can be anchored just bellow the climber. That does mean that the climber will end up falling for a bit before the rope gets tight however because the rope does stretch a bit they still get a nice and slow stop to their fall. So the process is to climb up a bit using the rocks, then install an anchor at about chest height, then climb onward.

Copying part of my own previous comment on climbing.

There are different types of climbing.
tl;dr, On most common routes ([sport, lead](https://usaclimbing.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/166964635_10159766873294750_5149140967413572479_n.jpg)) the first clip is exposed. There is no fall protection. Generally it’s not that far off the ground, and if there’s a big concern you can use a stick to put the rope through.

Sport just has [quickdraws](https://www.rei.com/c/quickdraws) which are carabineers that get attached to the bolted route. The bolts are eyelets bolted already by someone else into the rock.
Lead climbing is where the the rope is behind the climber. They climb to a point, and then clip the quickdraws, and keep climbing. Lead climbing has a higher degree of fall chance since you will fall back down to the last clip in.

[Top rope climbing is where the rope is anchored from the top](https://www.vdiffclimbing.com/wp-content/images/basics/basic-top-rope/top-rope-climbing-1.png). This is common in climbing gyms. It can be done outdoors if someone walks to the top first and rappels off, or if someone sets a lead climb first then rigs up for top rope for who ever follows.

Trad gets a bit more involved and has the fancy and [expensive cams, blocks, and other gear to make your own anchors.](https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/531722ebe4b01396b755c991/1536665210494-VQHYL6FYO1G5Q2LVMML8/18.08+rock+climbing+in+the+Lake+District+02+1500px.jpeg?format=1000w) More expensive, more gear, more technical, and far more likely to end up leaving gear behind.

There are different techniques like having the second climber clean the wall behind the first or cleaning the wall when rappelling or lowering down from the top.
(My original comment was about someone asking how do people get their gear down, I’m just leaving it on since that feels like the natrual next question to this.)


If you are rappelling/lowering(and may be used somewhat interchangeably in this) off the top though, sometimes gear is left. Rappelling needs an anchor at the top and lowering needs an anchor at the top. Rappelling puts the control of the decent in the climber while lowering is the belayer(the person not climbing and securing the other end of the rope) is the one lowering.
Sport routes will have chains at the top that involve some knot tying and use of gear to loop the rope through the the chains at the top without ever coming off of belay(where the second person is making sure the climber wont fall. The rope will always have affirmative control and connection to the climber while on belay.) Some say rappel off the chains is okay, some say if it doesn’t have a rappel ring which is just metal designed for rope friction, that you should donate one of your carabiners to the rappel. Either way that’s a small loss. While lowering the climber will take their quickdraws off the route, and then they just pull the rope through the loops the top and all is k.

Trad climbing gets a bit more complex but even then will have ways to have already established anchors at the top that can be reused at your own judgement. Even then an anchor can be built using just some webbing which is relatively cheap. Sometimes though, yeah gear gets stuck in a rock if there was weight put on it, there might not be a good looking anchor at the top and you need to make your own, etc. There are techniques to tie knots around things at the top that come undone but those are a safety decision since the knots are complex, and have built in failure points to come undone at the end. There’s also the possibility of just looping the rope around something like a tree but that can increase chance of failure in rope and damage the environment.

There are so many techniques, approaches, ideals, philosophies etc in climbing that there are many ways to fix this issue so it’s hard to give a “yes. this is the way.” answer because I don’t know them all, and experts could go on for hours about small minutia like rope diameter.

A lot of it is solved since most routes are well maintained by alpine organizations who maintain bolts and anchors, or other climbers have already placed anchors.
For people who are doing first ascents or exploring new routes, they’re extremely experienced and have something in their mental toolkit to work the problem, or they’re so far into it that losing some gear while exploring a new route is the cost of being one of the first.

at the gym you’d be top roping where the rope is anchored at the top of the wall. outdoors you can do the same if you rappel down a cliff and climb back up.

lead climbing is where you bring the rope with you. as you climb, you set protection, and your belayer will feed rope but catch you if you fall. on a lead fall, you will first fall past your protection before you can be caught. if you’re 3 feet above your last protection you will fall 6 feet before the belayer can arrest your fall.

in easier sections your protection may be 5-10ft apart, resulting in max fall of 10-20ft. but it’s easier, well within your abilities, and you are unlikely to fall except accidentally. in difficult sections where you might actually fall, the protection must be set closer because it’s sketchier.

some protection on well established routes are metal plates called bolt hangers that are bolted to the rock using expansion bolts to create an eye for your carabiner to snap into. these are called “sport” routes. a quickdraw consists of two carabiners connected by a sling. one carabiner clips into the protection, whether bolt, cam, or wired nut, and your rope is clipped to the other one.

some protection is placed in a crack as you climb, and is removed by your second climber. removable protection can be a chock or cam, or even a sling around a rock horn or flake. this type of climbing is called “trad” or traditional climbing.

in the old days, people would hammer pitons into cracks as semi-permanent protection, but this is frowned upon or simply not allowed in popular areas. If the route isn’t bolted, traditional removable protection must be used. when establishing new routes in difficult access areas like Denali etc, pitons may be used by the climbing parties, as they aren’t really regulated.

source: I am a trad climber but sometimes dabble in sport routes.