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 By: Jens Larssen  | Date: 2006-05-30  | Category: Tips & Tricks    | Comment  

Did you know that most hard redpoints and many onsights have been done with 2 or 3 preclipped carabiners, i.e. toproping the first 4 - 8 metres? The top climbers created this style many years ago based on the logic of safety and that you can preclip as many carabiners you have once, or will be able to, down climb. The first idea and definition of a redpoint was invented by Kurt Albert in Frankenjura, in the 70-ties. He simply put a red dot (rot punkt) once he had led a route without hanging in the bolts, which was the normal procedure those days.

The climbing community has since created more detailed 'rules' which have been circulated. In 2004, 8a published the first 'written rules' in order to define what is an acceptable behaviour, but also to discuss what is on the border line, using the colours of a traffic light. In the 8a Practice & Ethics, we state that one preclipped is OK (green). Two is OK, if it is for safety reasons or you have down climbed but not untied (yellow). If you are using three or more we don't think you should claim this a redpoint. Of course there could be exceptions on three preclipped but then we are talking a very dark orange.

This means that most of the hard redpoints reported at 8a are, in fact, on the border line for valid ascents, which is only natural as top athletes always try to stay on the cutting edge. However, sometimes the downclimbing procedures have been stretched in different subcultures and simply become ridiculous. Here are some amusing violations I have seen myself.  

  • 11 preclipped as the person had once down climbed from that carabiner!
  • The first 8b in Sweden was done with 3 preclipped. Later the FA tried to down climb from #3 and stated - "It is possible to down climb, but I don't have time!"
  • In a video, the FA proudly explains that he once jumped from seven meters and therefore always could start with preclipped from that point!

In other words, sometimes a redpoint attempt starts or ends with a down climbing/jump project to the ground! This is just stupid, climbers should focus on moving upwards. 8a thinks that if there is a risk for an accident while clipping the second carabiner you can always preclip the second. Regarding downclimbing, 8a thinks it is OK, as long as you don't untie from the rope.

When 8a introduced the scorecard we tried our best to put in a more conservative approach as we invented Freepoint, which meant a toprope ascent, or that you had had more than two preclipped. Of course it didn't work... Anyhow it was a statement what 8a thought. It should been mentioned that preclipping can lower the grade of an ascent. An 8a route, including a safe but hard second clip, might be just a 7c+ ascent if the second was unjustified (red) preclipped. It is important to be open, comment, the ascent if it is done and graded in the dark orange zone!  

The bottom line of all discussion of the climbing Practice & Ethics is that our procedures should focus on safety, fun and climbing upwards. By this we mean that of course also a 7a climber could also use two preclipped in order to avoid an incident. But don't push the limit and do it systematically. You know, in soccer two yellow cards means suspension and if you are unlucky the suspension might last for one game or more ;-)