2009 Petzl Roctrip at the Natural Games in Millau, France


With only a few days left until the Petzl Roc Trip, we thought it would be a good time to go over some basic rope handling techniques for multi-pitch sport climbing. The objective here is not to go in great detail about the activity itself, but rather to highlight the basics and go over some tips that will make climbing multi-pitch routes more enjoyable. The photos in this article are only meant for demonstration and have no technical purpose.


The beautiful lines of Cathédrale are waiting for climbers at the Petzl Roc Trip.

The Gorges de la Jonte have many classic three- to five-pitch sport routes rated from 4+ to 6b. Most of the routes have been re-equipped with glue-in bolts and don't require cams or other traditional protection. However, the re-equipping was done in the spirit of the original ascent. While the chances of a potentially dangerous ledge fall have been minimized, it doesn't mean that the routes are bolt ladders. Even on the routes rated in the 5's can be a little run-out.

Crowds on on the first belay acnhors at the "Diagonale du Gogol" sector.
A jumble of climbing teams crossing each other while others are rappelling.
A helmet is highly recommended.

Climbing has become more and more popular, as evidenced by the crowds at this cliff earlier this spring. The first thing we noticed: even on this warm weekend, most all of the climbers were wearing helmets. Without a doubt, the technical improvements over the recent years that have allowed helmets to be lighter, more comfortable, well-ventilated and good-looking mean that there is no longer any excuse for not wearing one. Not only do they help protect your head from falling rocks and other objects, but helmets also help protect from impacts as a result of a fall.

Attention : make sure the rope does not run under your leg


Things get complicated at the belay, where rope management plays a key role in the helping ensure climbing safety. In general, things go pretty well when the belays are equipped with glue-in bolts linked by a chain 1.5m above a nice big ledge. But in reality, it becomes more complicated when there's not a ledge, when there's no chain between the bolts, when more than one climbing party is sharing the same anchor, when your climbing in a party of three or when the same person is leading the entire route, etc.

Second belay station on Biotone. A station like this requires very a organized set-up adapted to the situation. Above, a climber from one party has just started a pitch as a climber from another party has just arrived at the belay...
More in detail, we can see the first piece is not clipped. The leader has already clipped several bolts, so the belayer can free the redirect bolt for the next team. A situation to be ancipated...


In every case, it's important to follow these rules:

  • Everyone is directly or indirectly clipped to 2 separate anchors (using locking carabiners). Attaching the climbing rope with a clove-hitch to the anchor allows for simple adjustments so there's no slack in the system. Never rely on a single carabiner at the belay station!
  • Keep the belay station simple and well-organized.

Belay used when swapping leads:
Belay station using a sling. Each rope is attached individually to each bolt with a clove hitch.
The locking carabiner and belay device are attached with a clove hitch.
Both bolts are equalized.



Belay station using the rope and two clove hitches.
To be used only when both anchors are deemed to be solid.



Clove hitch for tying off at the anchor



  • When the leader is building the belay, s/he should try to anticipate rope management needs for the next pitch. There are different techniques for this, depending on the situation: whether the team is swapping leads, the same person is leading the entire route, or if its a team of three.


  • Before setting off on the next pitch, always make sure a redirect is clipped as high as possible on the belay. If the leader falls before clipping the first bolt on the route, this redirect allows for the correct operation of braking belay devices like the REVERSO. Attention: this redirect reduces the fall factor, but increases the potential force on the belay anchors. A redirect on the belay station is for multi-pitch sport climbing, with bolted anchors. If the anchor doesn't seem totally solid, you should avoid this type of set-up.


Obligatory redirect:
On a piece very close to the belay or on the bolted belay itself.



  • At the belay, the rope is stacked so it won't get tangled or stuck. Try to avoid letting the loops hang lower than the belayer. A few minutes of organization before the leader sets off will help prevent a real mess later.

Three solutions for organizing the ropePETZL

Second belay on the Arête Ouest with no ledge.
Here, the leader belays the second and stacks the rope on the anchor.
This helps prevent the rope from getting hung up on the flakes below.

The same team at the start of the 3rd pitch on the Arête Ouest. The same person is doing the leading (white helmet) and the second (orange helmet) took the time to re-stack the rope. At the beginning of the pitch, the belayer pays very careful attention to the climber, especially when clipping.

Why aren't all belays equipped with chains? The classic routes of the Cirque des Vases are frequently climbed. Not putting chains on the anchors prevents people from rappelling the routes and getting in the way of other climbers. A specific rappel descent was put in place. If a team does have trouble and needs to descend, it could at least rap off the glue-in bolts. At the top of the routes, the last belay is often placed on the edge of the cliff. They are set up this way to avoid rock fall from the top caused by the rope, etc. and they also make it easier for the team to communicate, especially if there's a lot of wind. If the leader does decide to belay from the top, s/he should be careful to keep in mind what's going on below. Pay careful attention to the knots and the correct usage of belay devices - realizing that the set-up might be the opposite of how it is normally. It's usually preferable to hang below the edge and belay.

Pay attention to these situations:

  • When climbing in a party of three, the two seconds can climb at the same time, but make sure that there is enough space between the two, so one doesn't fall on the other.
  • When climbing in a party of three, the first of the two seconds must not remove the other second's rope from the quickdraw, especially when there is a traverse involved.

Climbing with three people on the Arête Ouest. Here, the leader is belaying both the seconds at the same time. In this scenario, the REVERSO 3 is ideal (it's important to take up slack on each line regularly, keeping the ropes taut and always keep your brake hand on each of the ropes).

The 1st second removed both ropes from the last quickdraw on the pitch. As a result, the 2nd second is not well protected for the last moves of the traverse.
There's a risk of a pendulum fall and the rope will rub against the sharp rock.

It's important to master and know the maneuvers for rappelling. Every member of the team MUST use an rappel back-up (prusik, Klemheist, Bachman, or a SHUNT).

It's simple to install and it does the following:

  • stops someone in case there's rock fall,
  • allows the climber to stop and rid the rope of tangles and knots,
  • allows the climber to be backed up while connecting to the next anchor,
  • allows the climber to stop the descent and install an ascending system (if the climber has descended to far).

A knot at the end of the rope is also obligatory.


Installing a sling for the rappel

Setting up the rappel and joining two ropes


Preparing for rappelling


While rappelling, the back-up also enables the climber to stop and undo knots, etc.

Once at the rappel station, connect directly to one of the anchors.

Multi-pitch climbing areas like the Gorges de la Jonte, are ideal for working on rope management techniques and improving your knowledge on a few pitches. It's the required rite of passage before heading out on longer and more technical routes in the mountains. Rope management is not something you improvise and it takes constant practice. Don't hesitate seek out more information, ask questions, or take a climbing course taught by professionals for full climbing enjoyment.

Climb safe and have fun!

The Arête Ouest can be climbed in a single 90m pitch (Infinity lane). Check it out at the Petzl Roctrip !

This information is not exhaustive. Refer to the technical pages of the Sport Catalog and technical manuals.
Technical training is essential.


Great trip!

Great trip!

Clove Hitch on belay

Hi, it's the first time I hear about using clove hitch for attaching the locking carabiner with the belay plate to the sling used in the belay. It seems very good, but I can't stop thinking what happens when an anchor fails. Wouldn't be possible for the clove hitch to slip when an anchor fails. Thus loosing any attachment point to the belay sling? Am I being enough clear with the description?

Belay used when swapping leads:...
...The locking carabiner and belay device are attached with a clove hitch.


Hello Alejandro,

We tested the consequence of an anchor fail with dyneema sling, with dynamic fall.
The test we did to validate this solution demonstrate that the slipping of the clove hitch along the sling is not more than 5 or 10 cm.

thank you for your interest


Would it be equally appropriate to use a quite draws at one of the anchor points and attach the second's clove hitch at the far end? That is, if you used a draw on the left anchor (on the switching leads example diagram 4) would it alleviate the need for attaching another carabiner to the anchor to secure the second when switching leads?

Answer : Anchor

Hello Ivan,

First please accept our sincere apologies for such a late reply.

In the diagram 4 both anchor points are not considered bombproof and thus it is necessary to create an equalized anchor point for installing the reverso and belay the second climber, for the next pitch the same equalized anchor will be used by the leader as his first anchor point.

Using a quick draw as you describe could not be an option, but in this case (without bombproff belay anchors), it is important that the leader's first anchor is the low point of the equalized anchor. And most important we recommend the use of screw gate carabiners to secure a climber, do not use non locking carabiners for this purpose.

Thank you for your support and climb safe



In the diagram the leader is belaying off of the anchor which has been equalized with a clove hitch. While this is a common way to secure a climber, this is the first I have seen it used as a way to equalize points of protection at the "master point". Have there been tests that show that the clove hitch is indeed a "redundant" knot as used here? For example; if I were to grab the sling and tie a figure eight or an overhand at the "master point" instead, there would be two loops of the sling in the knot at the attachment point (aka "master point"). If one loop were to break another would be there... Also isn't there a significant reduction in material strength when using a clove hitch here compared to using a hard knot? Especially in spectra or nylon slings?

I am not trying to disprove your techniques or criticize, I am just more curious about the application of the clove hitch and more places I can utilize it. Also have been wondering about material strengths of spectra or blends and various knots used at the anchor for equalization and the damage done to these new materials with use. As it seems it has become common to use long lightweight spectra slings for anchoring, over and over and over again...



Answer : Anchoring

Hello Ben,

Please accept our apologies for such a late rely.

The clove hitch is a possible solution for equalizing anchors, but many other solutions exist. In case an anchor fails the knot can slip a little but will not be able to release because of the carabiner threaded through the sling on the failed anchor side. On the conducted testing with dyneema there is no material failure with factor 2 fall of 80 KG. The noticeable advantage of the clove hitch is that it is easy to loosen even after being loaded.
8 knot and cow tails can also be used to equalize anchors, and different solutions are available for one situation, we offer one solution with the clove hitch, in the end it is up to you to evaluate the one that suits the best your situation.

We appreciate your participation on our web site and are always open to discussion with our users.


Grigri on multipitch climbing

I've heard of guides using grigris to bring up the second up, having the grigri on the anchor. How does that work and what are the advantages and disadvantages over a reverso 3? Thanks

Re: Grigri on multipitch climbing


The Grigri can be used in multipitch climb as a belay device as long as you respect the technical instruction given in the technical notice.

However, it also suppose that you’re using a single rope (Diameter within the limit…) and that your placing special attention to the device attached to the anchor as the came rotation may be interfering with the rock. For further information, please read the product experience available on the web site :


We thank you really much for your interest and are staying at your disposal for any further information

All the best

Abseil knot

I note the illustrated knot is a simple overhand. Is this Petzl's recommended knot? Have you tested other knots (e.g. two simple overhand knots together, figure eight knot).

There is a lot of inconsistency about knots. (e.g. the Swiss Alpine Club recommends the figure of eight but the Needle Sports and Andy Kirkpatrick claim it is a very weak knot)


Hello, thanks for your patience.
Yes, a knot can reduce strength (from 20% to 50%). But the choice of a knot depends on several factors:
- Its use (joining two rope ends, tying in, as an anchor knot, etc.)
- The characteristics and type of material being tied (slings, ropes, diameter, flexibility, material ...)
- And other aspects: whether it needs to be easy to untie, the risk of tying it incorrectly, etc.

The choice of what knot to choose must first be guided by the risk of an accidental loosening of the knot and/or inability to untie it and/or the chances of tying it incorrectly.
Our experience shows that these three factors are much more important than the problems associated with any decrease in strength, which will still most always be greater than the the loads involved.
Best regards

When climbing in a three I

When climbing in a three I see the leader is clipping both ropes to control both seconds fall/ swing potential, what ropes are best used here? Will doubles increase load in a lead fall? Will twins be strong enough for second fall?


RE : When climbing in a three


When climbing as a party of three you must use double ropes, one strand for each of the second climbers, in addition beware that the rope diameters are adapted to the environnement, danger of rope damage on sharp edges. Twin ropes are not intended to be used separately in any case. It is also important to check the compatibility of your belay device and the ropes. Consult the technical notices of each product and train before use.

how long does should a multi pitch rope be?

how long does should a multi pitch rope be?

Re how long does should a multi pitch rope be?


The rope should be at least twice as long as the longuest pitch in order to be able to rappel down.
In general multipitch ropes are made of two strands of 50 meters in a different color.
To rappel the two strands are knotted together and threaded through the rappel anchor, (please seek instructions concerning this knot and the rappel techniques). Once the party has rappelled the rope is recovered by pulling on one strand. For alpine terrain, some people use 60 meter strands.

Hello, Is the carabiners


Is the carabiners attached in the bolts, in the case of fall of the second climber, are loaded in the three directions?

RE : Hello, Is the carabiners

Hello Misko,

Sorry but your question is not clear to us. please contact the Petzl distributor in your country for a better understanding of your question.



The double rope clove

In the illustration for "Belay station using the rope and two clove hitches", both ropes have been clove hitched together through a single carabiner. Does the extra girth of the two rope clove compromise its performance under high loads(i.e. encourage slippage)? Whilst I have adopted this configuration, the knot is certainly harder to set.

RE The double rope clove

Hello Mattew,
First accept our apologies for a late reply.
The fact that there are two consecutive clove hitch knots will avoid any kind of rope slippage. This technique is specific for bombproof anchors. The technique of one clove hitch on each strand of rope is more common, easier to use as you say and allows the adjust easily the length of the strands to best comfort of the belayer.

Rope Management

After many multi pitch sport climbing with varying comfort on the stance at the anchors, I have always looped the rope over my personal anchor system, or over my leg, or even over my ankle with very comfortable and fast results. But require lots of attention, experience and meticulous weaving to get it right and not ending with a big mess. And that's why I'm open to try a new method for rope management.

My main concern here is about the three options shown here for rope management. The first illustrated (throwing the rope to the ground) obviously is the fastest simplest and most effective, but require lots of space (a big ledge). The second, looping the rope, is the one I have always used, which I like very much. But the third (tie off loops) is the one I'm more intrigued and would like to give it a try but it is not very well explained here.

Do you have a more detailed guide on these technique or do you know where I can get some tips and tricks on these procedure, like step by step or what knot to use, whats the convenience and inconvenience of these particular method, etc.

Thanks for your answer.

Re Rope Management

Hello Mike,
This technique is simple, it needs some practice and is best suited for parties of three where the third climber can manage untying the simple overhand knots that keep the rope attached to the belay. For parties of two your technique is perfectly adapted.

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