Can You Use Dynamic Rope for Top Rope Anchor?
Two climbers using a dynamic rope for top roping.

Are you wondering if there’s a way to use an (old) dynamic rope for a top rope anchor? If that’s so, you’ve knocked on the right door. Here at Go Extreme Sports, we like to tackle some of the most intriguing questions related to rock climbing, and this one sure ain’t an exception.

Okay, so what’s the whole story behind this one? The thing is: many folks are curious about whether a climber can use a dynamic rope for top-roping. In the article that you’re about to read (hopefully), we’ll show you if such a scenario’s possible. Also, we’ll expand our talk in a way that covers some of the issues that go hand-in-hand with the main one for today: can you use dynamic rope for a top-rope anchor? Stay tuned!

It’s totally fine to use a dynamic rope for a top rope anchor. However, you’ll need to take some precautions. For instance, you’ll need to pad all the sharp rock edges to keep your anchor safe and secure. Also, don’t forget to inspect your anchor material (and your climbing rope, of course) before each climbing session. 

Can you read only the preview and think you’ve gained some good climbing-related knowledge? Well, yes, but it ain’t even a tiny bit recommended. Read the whole thing!

Table of Contents

What is top roping?

So, before we get into the whole talk about whether a dynamic rope’s good for a certain activity called top roping, let’s consider that very same activity. In other words: let’s briefly define what top roping actually is!

Top roping (sometimes called top rope climbing) is, of course, a climbing style that is most recognized by the following:

  • A climber is safely connected to a rope that goes all the way up, passes through the anchor system at the top, and all the way down to the belayer at the bottom of the climb. The person at the foot of the climbing (belayer) will handle the slack rope so even if a climber was to lose their hold, they wouldn’t fall more than a small distance, thus avoiding serious injuries. 

Also, keep in mind that top rope climbing is usually done on routes that simply couldn’t be lead climbed because of this or that. The biggest percentage of top rope anchors you’ll be able to reach through the so-called non-technical means. We’re talking about hiking or scrambling your way to the top of the cliff/climb. Additionally, you might want to know that this style of climbing is the one you’ll most usually see being used at indoor climbing walls, as well as outdoor sessions where a different method would be seen as rather unsafe or environmentally dangerous.

Now that we’ve defined what is top roping, let’s consider the other BIG term of this text.

What is a dynamic rope?

Here’s the thing: a dynamic rope is a climbing rope that’s made with the intention to offer high levels of elasticity to its users. Therefore, it’s pretty stretchy. Its ability to be all elastic and stretchy helps protect climbers from serious injuries in the unfortunate event of a fall. So, which climbers use this type of rope? You’ll see dynamic rope more commonly used with rock climbing, lead climbing, and mountaineering (we’ve intentionally left out a certain activity here).

You’ll want to know that there are three types of dynamic rope you’re able to find on the market:

  • Single ropes. They’re designed to be used solely on their own. Also, they’re pretty lightweight.
  • Half ropes. These represent the two ropes that go through a belay device in order to make some friction and prevent some serious falling. Also, they help decrease drag. If you’re wondering whether you can use two single ropes as half (double) ropes, click right here.
  • Twin ropes. These work together as a single rope in order to provide the climber with a “backup plan” if one of the ropes fails. Also, they work great in scenarios where you need a lot of slack.

Oh, and if you’re curious to know whether it’s possible to ascend on a dynamic rope, visit this page. Alright, now that we’ve defined the two most important terms we’ll mention today, let’s see whether you’re able to use a dynamic rope for top rope anchor!

A climber using a dynamic rope for top rope anchor.

Can you use dynamic rope for top rope anchor?

Here’s our answer: yes, you’re able to use a dynamic rope for a top rope anchor. However, you’ll need to be very cautious. Anyway, let’s say you’ve found some old dynamic rope stored inside your basement and you’re thinking about utilizing it as a top rope anchor. Here’s a piece of advice we’d have for you if that was the case:

  • There’s a pretty good chance that your old dynamic rope will do just fine in a situation like this. Still, keep in mind that you should always have at the very least two independent full-strength anchor legs that come together at a knotted masterpoint. Also, you’ll need to pad the edge of the rock in order to keep your anchor secure. 
  • Always thoroughly inspect your anchor material (and your rope, of course) before each session. 
  • Once you get to set the length of your rope anchor, your carabiners at the masterpoint will need to hang out away from the rock, in the air. 

Also, if you’re wondering whether dynamic ropes are also good for canyoneering, simply follow that link.

Are there any arguments against this?

Here’s one we could think of in a second: a dynamic rope will stretch once you fall on it. Subsequently, it could end up cut or abraded if it runs over a rock a couple of times over several falls. That’s probably what most folks would say is the no.1 argument against using a dynamic rope for top rope anchor. Still, if you’re to pad any sharp edges you might stumble upon, you’ll be just fine.

Lastly, keep in mind that a dynamic rope will most probably wear out faster. In other words: you’ll need to replace it a lot faster than you’d replace a static rope. Let’s see if there are any other questions related to this topic we’ve unintentionally forgotten to mention!

Can you use static rope for top rope?

Now that we know whether dynamic ropes are good for top rope anchors, let’s see if an individual is able to use a static rope when top roping. First things first, let’s define static ropes. They’re designed to stretch only a little (in other words, static ropes are stiff), which, of course, makes them ideal for scenarios such as:

  • lowering an injured climber. 
  • hauling a load up. 
  • ascending a rope. 

However, expert climbers note that you should steer clear of using regular static ropes for top rope or lead climbing since they’re not designed, tested, or even – certified for those types of loads. Of course, you’ll want to know that, even though it’s not recommended, many folks still use static ropes for top roping.

Lastly, there are even static ropes that are made with the intention to be used for top rope climbing or rappelling. There’s a company called New England Ropes that manufactures a static rope that’s designed for top rope climbing.

How long should a static rope be for a top rope anchor?

It all comes down to the location of the climb. In other words: it all depends on the setting. Most climbers would opt for a 20-meter rope for rigging and short abseils, and a 40-meter one for abseiling en général and crags with remote tree belays. These lengths are fantastic for most stuff you’re planning to do unless you’re trying to access some of the few exceptionally major trad cliffs. In that case, you might want to opt for a climbing rope that’s longer than 50 meters; your best bet is to go for one that’s 100 meters in length.

What about the diameter? While we’re on the subject of claiming rope dimensions, let’s consider that part also. The folks we’ve talked with recommend going for a 10 to 11-millimeter rope. However, they add, the latter can sometimes feel like a wire cable.

Is it safe to top rope with two quickdraws?

For our last addition to this piece on whether you can use a dynamic rope for a top rope anchor, let’s see if you’re able to top rope with two quickdraws. In other words: let’s consider the safety of the whole process. Anyway, you’ll want to know that, in most scenarios, it’s totally fine to top rope through two opposite and opposed quickdraws. That’s completely fine as long as the angle between the draws is 60° (or less). 

The bottom line

Alright, dear climbing enthusiasts, that’s all there’s to say about the topic of whether folks are able to use a dynamic rope for a top rope anchor. We hope that you’ve had some fun reading this one. Besides, of course, learning some new stuff that will come in handy the next time you tackle them rocks. Anyway, for more rock climbing tips and other related info, you’ll want to click here.

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