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Joshua Tree Top Roping

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Joshua Tree Top Roping

Postby justumbo » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:05 am

I'm heading down to J Tree with some friends over spring break for some camping, hiking, and climbing. Most of the the people going are not very experienced climbers, so we're going to stick to top roping and bouldering. I have never set up an artificial anchor outdoors by myself, and before we go I am going to practice to make sure I know what I'm doing.

I need an idea of the equipment I will need to set up some top ropes at J Tree. We'll be camping in Hidden Valley, so we'll be climbing at Thin Wall, Trashcan, etc...

Also if you have any suggestions for must hit places while in J Tree, that would be awesome! None of us have been there before.
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Re: Joshua Tree Top Roping

Postby granite4brains » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:07 am

I'd highly recommend getting some instruction from a class, or a friend experienced with that stuff.

Not too sure it would be wise to learn how to set up top ropes from a web forum. Ppl's lives will be counting on your set up ;-)
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Re: Joshua Tree Top Roping

Postby Romain » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:08 am

While we're on the subject, can someone show me the correct way to tie the rope to my harness using a figure 8? I tried it at home after having seen someone do it on TV, but I could not remember correctly and it seems to come undone everytime.

I guess if all else fails I can always tie in with a good old overhand!
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Re: Joshua Tree Top Roping

Postby darinchadwick » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:00 am

Joshua Tree can be a little wierd with setting up top ropes. Often the scramble to the top of a crag can be more dangerous than actually just leading the climb if it's well protected and in your climbing range. As others have mentioned, make sure you know how to set up a natural pro anchor before you die. Assuming you do that, some technical tricks for setting up a TR that are unique to Josh that I have learned the hard way...

1. Take a lot of webbing and/or belay from the top of the climb. More often than not, the top of a climb is a gradual lessening in steepness, and anchor cracks are far back from the top of the climb. Scraping your rope over fifty feet of almost horizontal rock surface is not a smart thing to do. I've seen at Indian Cove that the webbing from the anchor to the TR was longer than the rope itself.

2. Take some big cams and practice using them in flaring cracks. I can't count the times I've led a thin crack or bolted face, only to confront some 4 or 5 inch wide flaring crack at the top as the only gear placement option. Take your time placing your cams in these grainy nasty things to make sure your cams don't walk or tip out.

3. As others have said, learning to set up TR anchors on a forum is not wise, but specific to Josh, I ALWAYS place 4 solid pieces in as many different configurations and cracks as possible, and recheck it after it has seen a couple of uses. Another trick for TR's is to utilize some of the enormous boulders with a section of static line or a long length of webbing. I'm not talking tippy little rocks here, I'm using boulders that are bigger than a couch.

Ok, some areas that I would hit up:
For bolted anchors (hey, this is just like the gym!) :roll: try Echo Rock. You will need two ropes, or (better) belay from the top. There are some 5.10 face climbs there that are great for a burn, and you can walk around the back right to the TR bolts. Also, lead something on Headstone, the bolts are closely spaced, and there's a fat bolt anchor on top.

For natural areas: Trashcan is always popular, and overrun, I saw I guy fall from the top while setting up a top-rope, he lived but it killed my Mojo for the day... Atlantis Wall has pretty easy set ups, and there is an actual edge to rappel over, and have the traditional top-rope set-up where the belayer is on the ground. Belle Tank is out of the way, and has some good climbs in both sun and shade, with an easy and fun scramble-up to set up anchors. Echo Cove has some good routes, but the scramble up can be tricky if you are new to the game. Indian Cove is also overrun with top-ropers belaying from the back of their SUV's. Thin Wall is Ok in Hidden Valley, may have to wait in line, but the routes are fun, and TR'ing is fairly easy.

Gearlist: Enough biners and lockers to make everything work: 6 biners and 4 lockers is a minimum.
50 feet of webbing or cord, plus a few single and double slings.
6 cams with an emphasis on larger cams: My usual routine is two extended range cams (I like Trango) with a 1,2,3,4 BD Camalot sizes, doubling the 3 if I know it's a fat crack up there.
1 set of stoppers or nuts. Oh, and a nut-tool.
A fat rope: Those skinny ultralight sport climbing ropes get trashed quickly here. Get a big heavy 10.5 for all that rasping and scraping it will get, and for God's sake, NEVER let it sit in the dirt\sand, that shit is sharper than you think.

You will really limit your TR possiblities if you have less than that.
Ok, I hope I havn't insulted you with some of my suggestions, but since you look pretty new to the game, and since I've made every mistake you can without getting killed at Josh, thought I'd try to steer you in the right direction.
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Re: Joshua Tree Top Roping

Postby robertjoy » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:50 pm

Many years ago I was doing pretty much exactly what you are planning. And I discovered that many of the sub-5.10 climbs at J-Tree have neither anchor bolts, or good placement for a trad anchor. When you are cleaning an anchor, removing your expensive cams, you may discover that the "walk-off" may be down-climbing 5.8 without protection. I was very annoyed that the guidebooks did not seem to think that anchor and walk-off issues were important. Not all routes in a guidebook have good anchors (or obvious placements) for top-roping or descending. Have an adventure!
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Re: Joshua Tree Top Roping

Postby DukeJH » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:01 pm

What darinchadwick said.

I've tried toproping at Josh without nuts and cams and it is truly a PITA. My first trip out we ended up on Atlantis Wall and slung a bould the size of a VW Beetle for a toprope anchor. After loading it a couple times I didn't think I was going to get it free but I did. Other weren't so lucky and left webbing jammed under the boulder. When slinging, watch that edge. At Atlantis the walk up is cake but you can get exposed when setting the anchor. Thin Wall will likely be overrun by classes; at least it has been the last few times I've been out.

Have fun. Be safe.
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Re: Joshua Tree Top Roping

Postby TheGeneral » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:03 pm

Take some long webbing, and a good 50 feet of static line. Know how to place gear. Know how to set a redundant anchor.

Lizard's Hangout has an easy walk up the back and it is easy, by Josh standards, to set a top rope. As stated above, Atlantis Wall is a good spot. Get there early.

Don't blindly trust someone else's TR. I've seen horrid things done at Atlantis and Trashcan.

But know what you're doing. While Josh is a good place to die, that might not be on your agenda.

If you have any doubts about setting an anchor, call Vertical Adventures. It'll be a great investment.
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Re: Joshua Tree Top Roping

Postby justumbo » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:51 am

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! I'm am seriously reconsidering if this is something we should pull off. I would love to climb in j tree, but I also did not realize until I started doing more research that there are not many bolts there, and seeing as my experience with building artificial anchors is pretty minimal... Safety is the most important thing.
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Re: Joshua Tree Top Roping

Postby DukeJH » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:10 pm

Not knowing where you are from, it's hard to make suggestions for helping you learn to set anchors. The best way is practice under an experienced eye and for some the easiest way to do this is with a guide service near home.
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