Climbing Top Out – Singapore Style

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What does the term “Top Out” means in rock climbing? According to online articles, Top Out is:

“To complete a route by ascending over the top of the structure being climbed” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_climbing_terms#T).

“When a climber reaches the top of a route and is able to climb right over the top and walk back to the base of the climb via a trail instead of rappelling back down on the rope they climbed on” (https://coolofthewild.com/rock-climbing-terms/).

Top Out meaning in Singapore

Those who are familiar with Singapore Climbing Course (SCC) Level 2 syllabus will know top out has a whole other meaning. Top Out means setting up a top rope by threading your climbing rope through the fixed anchor in order to clean your gears and lower down safely to the ground. I had been using the SCC Level 2 “Top Out” term for years until my Aussie mate asked me why do I need to top out on the route when I can be lowered down from the anchor? Thinking that maybe is an Aussie thing or different countries have different definitions for climbing terms. I did some research and found that the meaning of top out is to climb past the anchor and over the route.

The correct definition

Top out – “Climber reaching the top of a route and climb right over the top and descend by walking back to the base of the climb via a trail instead of abseiling back down on the rope they climbed on”.

Cleaning anchor – “Setting up a top rope by threading your climbing rope through the fixed anchor in order to clear all your gear and lower down safely to the ground”.

Click here for videos on how to clean an anchor.

Educate the rest

I can’t change the SCC Level 2 syllabus or the term SMF is using. However, I can educate the climbers I know and climb with. You can do your part by educating your fellow Singaporean climbers.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Michael C.

    You’re spot on mate! I’ve always been baffled by this term that the syllabus uses, and I’ve always felt it was a bit disjointed, because the first time lead climber wouldn’t know why you would need to clean an anchor, unless they understood SETTING an anchor.. which is of course not covered in the SNCS2 syllabus…

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