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All the rope techniques involved in rock climbing were a mystery to me when I initially got seriously interested in this sport. One of the thing that puzzled me most was how to recover the quickdraws after climbing an overhanging route - also known as cleaning the route. Here are the main takeaways from this video:
- Before asking your belayer to get you down (you are at the chain lower-off), connect a quickdraw to the donut loop of your harness and have the other end of the draw clipped on the belayer's rope. This will keep you close to the rock face as you are being lowered, enabling you to reach to each bolt.
- As your are descending, hanging in the rope, keep your feet up and control your descent by stepping down on the rock. Your legs must be spread as to maintain proper balance. Remember that three different points can only determine one plane (geometry plane) and this translates into stability. In the case of a climber rappelling down using a rope, the three points are his/her two feet in contact with the rock and the hanging point on the harness. If your feet are too close they act as s single point, leading to an unstable balance - you may swivel around the rope and hit the rock with your shoulders and hips. So keep your feet at a reasonable distance.
- Also you may wanna lean back as to have your butt slightly above your feet level. This helps you control your abseil, keeping you further away from the rock and giving you more movement freedom (you can study your route seeing the big picture).
- Ask your belayer to stop each time you reach a quickdraw down the wall. Unclip it from the bolt, then unclip it from the rope and clip it on the gear loops in your harness.
- As you reach the ground tell your belayer "Off belay" to which he/she should reply with "Belay off", that is of course after you are no longer taken through the belaying device.
- When cleaning overhangs the fact that you are clipped onto the belayer's rope is even more helpful. Once you reach the level of a quickdraw you have to pull yourself close to the bolt, grab a good hold on the route (a jug for instance) and unclip the draw from the bolt. At this point the rope becomes a bit loose so you have to ask your partner to take you back in tighter.
- If two draws are close enough, then you can take the lower one by clipping yourself in the one above and stretching down for it. This makes sense in steep overhangs where the tension in the rope gets higher as you get closer to the ground. The natural tendency is to swing out, that's why you need to be clipped in and save yourself every bit of work that you can.
- There are situations when you can take the first draw from the ground. In this case you can either unclip yourself from the rope and swing out or you can remain clipped and be lowered slowly by your partner. The latter scenario is advisable when you cannot swing out due to obstacles you may hit - rocks, boulders, trees, etc.
- If you can't reach your first draw from the ground you have two options:
- First option is to clip yourself in the draw above (second) and reach down for the first draw just like was mentioned above - this works if the first two bolts are close enough together.
- Second option is to clip yourself into the bottom carabiner of the draw that hangs in the first bolt. Unclip the rope from all carabiners and ask your belayer to walk out and take you in. Make sure your swing trajectory is clear. Grab a hold, unclip yourself from the bolt and swing out.
- You're done cleaning the route. Make sure to get the knot out of the end of the rope and then as you're pulling it down, yell "Rope!" to everybody around you to let them know the rope's coming down.
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