CRAG ETIQUETTE: Kids, Top-Roping, Using & Taking Other People's Gear
A few more points to expand on after a recent chat about crag etiquette with a climber who has probably bolted more routes than you've climbed (and also has kids).
Kids love climbing, but care needs to be taken. Outdoor cliffs are natural environments, are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Loose rock is a real danger for anyone below. If you have children keep them away from under anyone climbing, and consider making them wear a helmet. Furthermore, your kids are not the responsibility of other people climbing at the cliff. If someone wants to climb a route above your kid, please move the kid elsewhere to a safer location (a cave). Also, consider the interruption factor whilst at a crag. Is your kid interrupting other climbers and going through other people's things?
There are no permanent ropes installed in the outdoors, so you need to bring your own rope and connect it to a suitable top anchor. This involves either leading the route first or walking to the top of the cliff.
Creating top anchors for top-roping is a skill that needs to be taught. Learn from someone who knows what they are doing, and always use redundant (2 or more) anchor points.
Do not top-rope directly through any ringbolts - always use a carabiner. This is to stop the anchors being worn out which costs money to replace. If you are top-roping a classic route at a busy crag then please only have one go, then pull down your rope and let other climbers have the opportunity to lead it. Don’t be that guy that hogs a classic all day.
Using Other People's Gear
Generally, it is okay to do so. If you decide it's a good idea to leave draws up everything at a crag, don't be precious if other people want to climb those routes. But if you plan to fall off repeatedly on a route then replace their quickdraws with your own. When you're finished with the route, replace the original quickdraws. Ask around the crag if in doubt. Always check slings and biners on other people's gear as it may be worn and dangerous.
Taking Other People's Gear
Equipment such as carabiners, quickdraws, slings, shackles and trad gear left on routes are someone else's property.
Carabiners left on certain bolts on steep or traversing climbs are there to aid the cleaning process and should be left in place. Carabiners or shackles left on anchors are there to stop anchor wear, and should never be removed unless it shows obvious wear.
Quickdraws left on a route are there because someone is working a climb over many attempts. Occasionally you may find a piece of trad gear that is stuck in a crack and has been abandoned. If it takes some effort to remove then it is probably ok to keep it. But, don't be a knob, ask around to see if you can find the original owner.