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How to Set Up a Top Rope with a Static Line

July 1, 2012

So you’ve got the basics of Anchoring down, and now you want to set up a top rope.  Top Roping can be fun, quick, low risk, and pretty simple.  The key point to keep in mind are that the anchor components need to be BOMB PROOF and as Bobbo would put it, Industrial strength meaning that they won’t go anywhere.



-3-4 locking carabeeners
-70-100 feet of static rope no smaller that 9mm in diameter
-a single cordalette (18-21 feet in length)

Knots You Must Know How to Tie

-Double Bowline
-Overhand on a Bight



1) Select two anchors that are a reasonable distance from the cliff (between 10 and 30 feet) and that are around the climb you wish to crank on.  For simplicities sake, lets say that the two anchors you’ve selected are trees that are a greater diameter than your thigh (this is important when using trees).

2) Get your static rope, and with one end tie a double bowline around the first tree.  Tie the know as low as you can on the tree and be sure to back it up with a double fishermans, or how its shown in the illustration.

(Please note that this is a bowline on a bight with an overhand backup.  You could simply make an overhand on a bight with the tail of the bowline and clip it to the running stand as shown with a carabeener.)

3) Find the climb you want on and throw a 3-4 foot bight of rope over the edge.

4) Go to the other tree you’ve selected and wrap your cordalette around the tree so the you have two strands going around the tree.  Equalize the two strands and tie an overhand on a bight.  (See Illustration)

5) Clip 1 locking carabeener to equalized bight and clove hitch the other end of the rope to the carabeener.  Back up the clove hitch with an overhand on a bight around the loaded strand. (See illustration)

6) Equlalize the two “Legs” of the anchor near the edge of the cliff, and tie a BFK with the bight you threw over the edge.  This is your master point (Also referred to as the High Point, or Power Point)

7) Clip two opposite and opposed locking carabeeners to the master point, and clip the climbing rope into both of them.  Lock all of your carabeeners and throw the climbing rope down from the middle.


I realize that it may be hard to visualize all of these steps.  If you have any questions at all about any of them please comment, or email me and I will answer your questions as promptly as I can.

Its important that while working near the cliff edge to protect yourself from falling.  This can easily be done with the above technique by using the tail end of the clove hitch as a tether.  Simply put a gri-gri, or an autoblocking knot (Klemheist, or prussik) on the tether and clip it to your harness.
Here is a nice video by the Colorado Mountain School the describes the above method.


Happy Sending!



From → Anchors

  1. Derrick permalink

    When anchoring to the 2nd tree, whats the reason for using the biner and cordlette instead of going around the tree with the rope? Thanks!

    • Hey Derrick,

      Its just one option

      Using a clove hitch with the cordalette and carabiner gives your the option to have a tethering system to make going to the edge of the cliff easier. You could use another bowline with the rope around the tree to which would be perfectly safe and acceptable.


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