Stripping the route in sport climbing

Stripping the route in sport climbing

Removing the quickdraws, or 'stripping' a route can often be as difficult as the climbing itself, particularly on overhanging rock. A few little tricks can make this process much easier...

Well done! You've succeeded on your route and clipped the belay. All you have to do now is lower off, retrieving your quickdraws as you go, then you can go to the pub. However, on steep routes, removing the draws, or 'stripping the route', can often be as difficult as the climbing itself!

The first steps

Clip a quickdraw into your harness belay loop, and the other end of it into the rope. On overhanging rock this will pull you inwards, allowing you to reach the draws. Few people realise the importance of getting this draw the right way round. Ensure the 'bolt krab' (see Ropework) is attached to the belay loop, otherwise as you slide down the rope any burrs on the karabiner will wear the rope.
 

Getting down © deserttrends
Getting downBouncing

Should you forget to clip in a draw and find yourself lowered into space you will not be able to swing into the rock. The only option is to go back up the rope using a very useful technique known as 'bouncing'. With the belayer sat right back and the rope locked off, do a pull up on the rope and then simply let go. You will obviously drop back down but at the same time the belayer will also drop, gaining you a little height. It sounds unlikely but this really does work; though if you are totally wasted, using a new 9.4mm rope and having a 9-stone belayer, does make upward progress rather slow! The bouncing technique is also really useful if you fall off and end up in space but want to resume climbing.

Removing the last quickdraw

When you reach the bolt nearest the ground it is easiest to use another draw - clip yourself to that bolt and have the rope tension removed. This allows the rope to be unclipped easily. Then, using holds on route, you can unclip the bolt and swing off. If the first two bolts are close, hang from the second bolt and reach down to the first one while the rope is slack. Take care when swinging and make sure the belayer takes in as much slack as possible. If a crash landing looks likely, clip your end of the rope into perhaps the third or fourth quickdraw as you are coming down. You will be held into the rock and the lower draws can be removed. Now climb back up and remove the draw that your end is clipped into.

Very steep rock

On very step terrain it can become very difficult to get into the rock after just a few draws have been removed. It may be easier to lower off in stages and there may be a mid-height belay for this (see Lowering off). Alternatively, you could leave a krab behind and clip your rope into it as described above. Really steep routes are often littered with in-situ karabiners for this purpose.

Now you can go to the pub!

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