I felt like I was rediscovering how to lead. In that way it was kind of exciting. The same old routes at Seneca were once again a learning experience. I was constantly discovering faster more efficient ways of doing things. I still am. If you are an experienced trad leader it will go much faster. If you’re not an experienced trad leader I suggest you wait until you are.
The first time I ever tried to rope solo I swear it took me at 2 hours to climb the pitch and an hour to set up the rigging. Today I set up a rig and racked up in 15 minutes and climbed 5 pitches in 4 hours. Practice really helps. Analyze and visualize your system. Then see what steps you can eliminate or combine to make it go faster. See what gear you can eliminate to go lighter. On the climb you should know what you need to do and when, and just do it. Thinking wastes time.
I believe that if you’re serious about lead rope soloing the Silent Partner is the tool to have. The Silent Partner will do everything that it claims and nothing else. It will not know when you need slack or when to take. The Silent Partner is a really poor communicator, so keep an eye on it.
Those of you who think there is only safe and not-safe will not enjoy rope soloing. Let’s face it. You’re going out rock climbing – solo. You’re not being safe, so let’s throw that out the window. If you try be 100% safe you will probably quit because your safety systems are a pain in the ass.
It’s good to know. Retreat is difficult and will likely result in you leaving lots and lots of gear behind.
First off you’re carrying it all yourself. Secondly you’re gonna need a lot more. You need a normal trad rack. Then add your gear to rig your system. Then add a bigger rack to protect 60m pitches. Maybe add aiders, daisys, and ascenders. The rope goes on top.
Rope soloing will never be just as smooth and easy as climbing with a belayer. It doesn’t matter how smooth your system is. Rope soloing is like climbing with a belayer who splits his time between falling asleep and short roping you.
The enjoyment that I get out of rope soloing is very similar to the satisfaction I get from solo hiking. It’s all about being outside, enjoying the rock, the movement, being 100% self-sufficient. Doing what you want to do whenever you want. It is really great not having to yell commands at your belayer. It is not about pushing myself, doing difficult climbs or trying to do max pitches. I never rope solo because I don’t have a partner.
The 50/50 rule.
When rope soloing there are 100 things that can go wrong. The good news is that 50 of them end in you not being able to get off the ground. The bad news is that the other 50 end in death. The kicker is that if something goes wrong you’re on your own.