Sport Climbing →

How do I bail on a sport route?

If you have to back off a route, do the following:

  1. The belayer should check to make sure half the rope is available to lower down.
  2. The belayer should tie a stopper knot in the rope end.
  3. The climber should place a bail biner on the last piece of protection and clip the climbing rope to it.
  4. The climber should tie a prussik knot onto the strand of the climbing rope running along the face of the climb and clip the prussik to their belay loop.
  5. As the belayer lowers the climber, the climber should tractor the prussik (i.e. move it down the rope) and remove quickdraws or other pieces of protection until they reach the ground.

This technique helps protect the climber against the consequences of the top piece of protection failing by continuously backing up a fall onto a previous place of gear via the prussik.

Some years ago, Petzl described this technique in a printed illustration: See:


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