Rope Solo System

Hello Steph and greetings from Croatia!

First of I all I would like to say that you are other free solo climbers were an inspiration for me to start climbing (which was 5 months ago). I was watching the First Ascent series Alone on the Wall and I was like… jezz… if these guys ( and gals 🙂 ) can climb without protection I can climb with it. Anyway since then I climb almost every other than ˙but a week ago I was partnerless in my climbing gym and I decided to try top rope solo. I was scary but I was pretty familiar with the gym wall not to get too scared.

since then I used it a couple of times in the gym and this weekend I climbed outside like this and the feeling was non-comparable to climbing with a partner… so much freedom, only you and the rock, whispering to each other and also I climb much better than with a partner.

Anyway I would like to hear your opinion on the setup I was using. The rope was going from my harness to the top anchor, back to me where it went trough a grigri2 connected with a steel biner to my harness and as I climbed I used my free hand to pull the slack from the system. It is a bit hard since you have to pull the slack constantly but I only see it as a plus since I’m training my endurance as I hang to pull slack from the system.

Thanks !

Hello 🙂
The Grigri set up is a decent way to toprope solo, but it does require you to pull the slack through all the time….

I like to use two mini-traxions (two because I back up everything, especially when up high alone), but it’s only the top one that is doing anything…the second one just follows behind, clipped into a loop on my daisy chain as well as the belay loop. Back ups!

A static rope is best. If there are no cruxes off the ground, I also just pull the rope through with one hand until the weight of the rope allows the mini-traxions to feed by themselves. If there’s a crux near the ground, I’ll clip something to the end of the rope: a water bottle, my shoes, a few cams, or a cloth grocery bag with a rock in it, and then clip a directional above that if the route is steep or angling.

have fun! 🙂

44 responses to “Rope Solo System”

  1. Michaelmay513 says:

    Does this system require the use of a chest harness?

  2. Matt Thomas says:

    Just wanted to note this from the Petzl site:
    Use of the MINI TRAXION pulley:
    Petzl has studied the current usage of the MINI TRAXION as a self-belay device on a fixed rope. Serious accidents and many handling errors have been reported.The risk of using the device with the cam held open is significant, as well as the possibility of accidental opening of the cam when climbing.Consequently, the MINI TRAXION must be paired with a different ascender: ASCENSION, BASIC, MICROCENDER…Petzl does not recommend using a system consisting of only two MINI TRAXION for selfbelayed solo climbing with a fixed rope.

  3. p:: says:

    Hi Steph, this is super useful, thank you. I’m just wondering how to do you go about the equally important part of transitioning into rappel-mode, once done climbing ?

  4. Jouvalstephane says:
    hello i not speak englishbecause the french , the site que je viens de mettre its methode avec grigri
    the site is french
    goodbye steph de stephane

  5. Isaac says:

    I thought I would pass along one tip I’ve discovered over 4 years of rope soloing with this technique. Typically I keep all my gear that is not in use for the anchor in my pack which is attached to the rope with a prusik (so that I can adjust how far off the ground the pack is). If I need to perform a self rescue (mainly on overhanging or wandering routes) I just pull up my pack and I have ALL my gear. Also I can keep food and water and if I get thirsty working a route it’s right at my finger tips. Of course if you employ this method you cannot place the directional above your pack.

  6. steph davis says:

    close the cams! 😉

  7. steph davis says:

    i just use two slings x-ed over my chest to tie up the top mini-traxion, to make it feed by itself.

  8. steph davis says:

    I keep 2 daisies on my harness (check the photos in the post). The left daisy is used as a back-up for the belay loop on my back-up (lower) mini-traxion. When I reach the anchor, I clip in with the right daisy. I remove the lower mini-traxion (now I am clipped in with a daisy and the upper mini-traxion), and replace it with my grigri (also clipped through both the belay loop and the first exposed loop of my left daisy chain). When the grigri is rigged, I remove the top mini traxion, leaving me clipped in with the right daisy and the grigri. When I have weighted the grigri (physical confirmation that it is all rigged correctly), I remove the right daisy chain from the anchor and start rapping.

  9. steph davis says:

    merci Stephane, tu peux m’ecrire en francais si tu veux 🙂

  10. Sean says:

    great info, looked through devices Matt listed and also discovered the micro traxion
    good stuff

  11. amcam says:

     “I see it all the time. People at the cliff with one or two daisy
    chains girth hitched to their belay loop or tie-in points, and using
    them as a personal anchor system when at an anchor. Wrong. Dangerously

  12. Michaelmay513 says:

    thank you

  13. steph davis says:

    well no, not really. daisies work great as an intermediate, working clip-in point. Bartacks do hold body weight.

  14. steph davis says:

    yes, I ordered one immediately, thanks Matt! 😀

  15. Anonymous says:

    hehe, this post also made me order a mini traxion. hooray more gear.

  16. Anonymous says:

    for sure. didn’t mean to suggest what you were doing was unsafe, just thought the petzl advisory was worth considering.

  17. Anonymous says:

    it seems like the point is more, ‘don’t shock-load static slings’ than ‘don’t use a daisy chain’

    that dmm video ( scared me though, i’ve definitely been guilty of hanging out at the belay using a 120mm sling to connect myself to the anchor.

  18. steph davis says:

    I got really scared by that video also until I spoke with the gear guys at Mammut, who explained to me that the tests it shows do not simulate real world use, which did make sense to me after I understood more. I like to use both a daisy or sling tether (as my intermediate, working clip in point) and an equalized knot in my climbing rope (as the main, load-bearing anchor point) at anchors 🙂

  19. steph davis says:

    just got my micro traxion…..!

  20. Damien Powledge says:

    Great post! Also from the Petzl site:

    It’s great to see tests being conducted by a company in regards to safety, especially when it’s being used for purposes other than what they originally designed it for. I love my min traxions, but those MICROS look sweet!

  21. steph davis says:

    yes! i just got a micro, and I am in love all over again….

  22. Donald Perry says:


    Steph, if the tale of that webbing gets into the device it fails.  I would tape it.  Also, the new MT tracks a lot better.

  23. steph davis says:

    Just got one, and I love it!

  24. Max says:

    Hi Steph!

    I love your blog, just wanted to throw my 2 cents in.

    When I’m rope soloing I use a grigri backed up with a petzl tibloc ascender above it, such that whenever I pull in slack the grigri pushes the tibloc up with it. I’ll usually attach to the tibloc with a longer runner turned into a screamer-esque device by folding it a few times and wrapping it with a rubber band so it is fairly low profile but the grigri would definitely be the first thing to take the weight in the event of a fall. Not the most elegant system but I thinks it works fairly well for people who have a grigri but no traxion ( though the tibloc is a lot pricier than I would have imagined, mine was a gift)

  25. Maranguroute says:

     I think after reading this i need a micro traxion as well.

  26. steph davis says:

    This sounds like you will get REALLY strong when using it…. 🙂

  27. steph davis says:

    I got a micro traxion! I am really happy with it as a mini-hauler (so much lighter). I tried climbing with it today: I found that the rope did not pull up as easily on my top (main) device, because the hole has to accommodate both the locking carabiner and my piece of tie-off, and it’s smaller. Also, the rope is accessible via that hole, so the tie-off has some friction occasionally against the cord (not a safety issue, but just keeps it from sliding as easily). So I switched, and put the mini-traxion on top like always, and used the micro-traxion below it as my back-up. Which worked fine. I think I’ll save the micro for actual climbing/hauling use, and keep running the mini-traxions for rope soloing. The pulleys make them run so smoothly up the rope, and weight is not so much of an issue for me in this use.

  28. Chris says:

    Hi Steph,

    I am thinking of getting into TR soloing. Does the mini (or micro) traxions cause much damage to the rope sheaths? Only reason I ask, is that I use my static for canyoning, and it is dry treated and floats. I don’t want to damage the sheath too much.


  29. steph davis says:

    Hi Chris, I don’t know much about the dry treatment of a floating rope….I have experimented with the microtraxion, and I found that it is actually not as nice for TR soloing. It does not slide as easily up the rope. So I am using it for hauling, which it is great for, and continuing to use the old minitraxions for rope soloing. The teeth on all of them are similar or less agressive than on jumars. I don’t think they damage the sheath, because the teeth part the fibers when they clamp down. But I’m not sure if/what they would do to floating qualities.

  30. martin says:


    I just realised that with this system ; if the top one fails it will slide down til it stops on top of the lower one. The lower carabiner will not be loaded at all because of the , well you see when you try it. you will hang in the upper one on top of the lower ones sideplates. And there will be a small (?)
    force when you come to this Point.

    I solved it with a short sling (express ca 15cm ) to the top one, the rest is about the same .

    I hope you understand 🙂

    I Think that was kind of interesting to realise !

    and I have used to many catlives so I cant afford Another one on a breaking mini/Micro-traxion¨

    / ciao // Martin

  31. Javier says:

    I little bit more of info from Petzl: They have published a document with their suggested techniques for TR soloing. Very interesting:

  32. Javier says:

    Sorry I posted just the previous link. It wasn’t stated that it was a whole document with suggested techniques from Petzl.

  33. Sara C'innesca says:

    Hey, your post inspired me a lot and today I climbed for the first time on top rope solo. It was awesome! thanks!

    And, by the way. I am considering getting a silent partner so to have a device that I could use for rappel AND top rope climbing (though it’s mostly used for roped lead) so not have the need to switch the setup between going up and down. Do you have any experience with it? Thank you!! <3

  34. steph davis says:

    Hi Sara, I have not used that one–it’s a little inconvenient with the switchover, but the double mini traxion is the way for me 🙂 It would be great to hear what you think, if you try that device?

  35. 22anthony22 says:

    It’s a bit more pricey, but I think the silent partner is worth the money

  36. limbo says:

    I see you use static line, It is traumatic when you fall?
    I know that a static line is not static as a wire cable, and in this scenario, there is not a lot of force involve, but I couldn’t feel safe :p
    how is a fall?
    best regards

  37. steph davis says:

    With the mini traxion and a fixed line, you don’t fall onto the rope, you just hang. Toproping is always nicer (whether regular style toproping, with a belayer, or fixed line toproping with a mini traxion) on a static rope because there’s no stretch.

  38. Devin Rogers says:

    Steph, can I ask what system you use to “fix” the line at the top? I’ve been running the rope through the anchor chains on single pitch sport routes, double rapping down, and soloing on both ends of the rope, with a micro traxion on one side and a grigri on the other, and then weighting the bottom of each line for feed-age. The grigri is the primary and the micro is my backup. It’s been less than ideal or safe, but I’m broke and gotta work with what I have haha. Also I think it’s really awesome that us gumbies can just hop on here and ask advice from one of the best! Thanks for being awesome and down to earth!!

  39. steph davis says:

    I usually clip a single static line into both anchor points with a “bunny-ears” knot. I have tried this system with a micro-traxion, but I could not get the thing to feed easily and was really happy I still have the old mini-traxions to use!

  40. Devin Rogers says:

    Thanks a ton! Hope you’re having a great trip

  41. limbo says:

    thanks 🙂

  42. Jim Rossini says:

    If you don’t have the rope fixed and instead are running it straight through the anchor chains, you don’t have any backup; if one device fails you will hit the ground similar to how a simul-rap will fail if one person loses control. I hope you have improved your setup since then (being broke is no excuse to not be safe) and just wanted to point this out for anyone else who may be reading.

  43. steph davis says:

    nope, rope is fixed.


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