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I am working on a very fun problem with an overhung roof that induces serious rope drag (Goat Rock Roof @ Castle Rock if you know it). I am very nervous about training this beta intensive problem given how easy it is to cut a rope on an edge. What techniques are normally used to protect edges? I've tried placing shirts, but they are useless. What I need is a placeable plastic or metal piece that will stay on the edge and allow the rope to smoothly pass over it.'

I need a solution for the dynamic climbing line, not the anchor line. Is there anything that will stay on the rock while a rope goes over it?

Note that this route is top rope only:

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What's wrong with extending the anchor? AFAIK that's the standard thing to do in this type of top-roping situation. If you run the climbing rope over an edge and top-rope on it, you're going to have horrible rope drag. – Ben Crowell Sep 27 at 20:41
Normally I'd agree, but what makes this problem so legendary is the roof. It's not a flat cliff like the picture below but a 5.9 slab down off a 5.10 roof. – SwimBikeRun Sep 28 at 0:03
I still don't understand why you can't extend the anchor. – Ben Crowell Sep 28 at 0:42
Top roping over sharp edges is a classic noob error, but top roping in general puts more wear on your ropes than any other form of climbing. If you want to be legendary, climb this route on lead, whippers off of roofs are nothing, you just fall into open air if the setter bolted it right. – ShemSeger Sep 28 at 3:41
That looks like some pretty soft sandstone to me, I image there are rope scars all over that round edge. Looking at the picture, I don't think you need to worry about cutting your rope on that route. – ShemSeger Sep 28 at 22:41

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Top roping over sharp edges is never recommended, but if you insist that's what you want to do then what you want is an edge roller:

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You can anchor it to the top bolts and hang it right over the edge using accessory cord so that the ropes slide over the rollers instead of the sharp edge:

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The picture does't show it, but you're supposed to use velcro straps or something else as a safety to prevent the rope from jumping the track.


If you're concerned about your edge protector flipping over, they do make Roll modules for moving ropes that have both vertical and horizontal rollers:

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There are a lot of different styles of edge protectors and edge rollers, but you can typically find them or order them at rescue supply stores.

A slightly more affordable option is a rope pad:

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Same idea as the rollers, but made out of heavy duty material instead of metal, and you run the ropes trough a sleeve.

You asked specifically for climbing with dynamic ropes, but I figured I's show the cheap and easy method for single rope rappels too:

I use a Spirol Rope Protector and I really like it, it's flexible but very durable rubber, and it wraps around your rope.

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A couple things I like about are that you can leave it on your rope when it's coiled, and you can make it slide along the rope, which is handy if you need to rappel with it a ways to get down to whatever sharp edge you're going over. It doesn't slide on it's own very easily, but it's got a small hole in it so you can tie a rat tail stopper or something with some small cord just in case. But once you've got it pinned against the rock it doesn't move. Another perk is that it stays with your rope, so if you need to swing or traverse you don't have to worry about your rope coming off of you edge protector.

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Nice. I knew there must be something like that. Ordered two of the tube styles. I saw the rollers previously but both their weight and price are obnoxious. Also i don't see the rope staying on them in a fall on this problem. Even if they are velcroed to the rope, the rope will probably flip them over. – SwimBikeRun Sep 28 at 16:02
@SwimBikeRun Unlikely, but if you're concerned about it then you can get a roll module like this one, it's got vertical and horizontal rollers. – ShemSeger Sep 28 at 16:43
Nice link. That's a cool system. Unfortunately I think there is good chance it would flip that one too and take it off the edge. This problem involves a huge swinging roof fall where the angle after the roof is still at least 80 degrees steep, not giving a lot of holding power to the rollers. Maybe hooking the rollers in with some nuts / cams and accessory cord would be an option, but they are also very heavy and expensive. I hope the rope sheaths work! I'll report back in about a month when I head back to that project for round 3. – SwimBikeRun Sep 28 at 20:10

Use a piece of Scrap carpet or throw rug on the rock edge to protect the rope.

enter image description here

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I need a solution for the dynamic climbing line, not the anchor line. This won't stay on the rock while the rope slides over it will it? – SwimBikeRun Sep 27 at 20:09
@SwimBikeRun there are a lot of variables, If there is enough constant pressure on the carpet to keep it from just falling off AND if there is more friction between the rock and the carpet then between the rope and the carpet it should stay. I have memories from long ago of doing this, because we were repelling past the carpet and over a ledge, we used a longer stretch of carpet and put some rocks on it (away from the edge) to keep it in place when the rope was not touching the carpet. – James Jenkins Sep 27 at 22:16

Apart from what ShemSeger suggested if you are looking for a make-shift option for now, you can get an inner rubber tube that people use for Cycles. Cut it and run the rope through it at the edge where you see the friction. I have been doing this and seen people in India doing this ever since I have started being outdoors.

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When you say a rubber tube used for Cycles, do you mean like a bicycle inner tire tube? Perhaps you can elaborate. – Chris Mendez Sep 29 at 1:38
@chris: Of course. FWIK, inner ones are called tubes and outer is a tyre? – WedaPashi Sep 29 at 4:18
Was just clarifying, I'm not a cyclist so I didn't know if there was an accessory that had a tube as well.. thanks! – Chris Mendez Sep 29 at 11:54

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