If done properly, did you know that self-belay rope soloing is actually much safer than lead climbing, and safer even than toprope belay with a partner?
For all the 'WARNING!'s on the internet by alarmists and people who love to scare others off the rock, there are vew few (any?) confirmed cases of death by rope soloing .. contrast that with the number of trad/lead climbing fatalities.
You can rope solo with absolute confidence using a very simple system of double-redundancy:
1. make sure the top of the route has two solid bolts or set up two natural anchors
2. clove-hitch the halfway point of the rope through the first anchor point. Then clove-hitch the rope through the second anchor point. Now throw BOTH parts of the rope to the bottom
3. rappel down the route on both lines
4. grab two USHBAs (simple Petzl microscenders work too .. but can damage the rope)
5. attach both USHBAs to the rope (one on each rope line), then attach them to your belay loop
7. For added redundancy , if you're really scared, knot the rope about 10 feet above the ground .. I rarely do this with the system described here, because the setup is already so redundant
Let's see what happens if you fall ...
1. if one anchor point breaks, you're fine, because you're on two lines
2. if one line breaks, you're fine
3. if one USHBA blows, you're fine, because the other USHBA will hold you
4. if both USHBAs blow, you're in trouble .. but that would be a hellishly unlikely event
If you're on belay with a partner, many bad things can go wrong to kill you such as
1. partner passes out
2. partner gets knocked out by rockfall
3. partner is incompetant or distracted and fails to catch your fall
4. rope breaks (you're only on one line in a typical toproping situation)
Therefore I conclude the solo toproping on self-belay, using this system, is one of the safest ways to climb.
Jesse Johnson (email@example.com)