Rock climbing is exciting to thrill seekers while others consider it to be too unsafe to risk it. Venturing on a climb without proper gear or equipment is possible, yet it is rather difficult to do this safely. Climbing along natural rock formations is dangerous and time-consuming. It requires a lot of skill and endurance to reach the summit and travel back down.
Expert skills, along with knowledge of different climbing techniques, increases the chance of successfully completing a climb. The right rock climbing equipment and gear are vital for a safe journey. Before setting out for an adventure, take a crucial moment to create a climbing gear checklist to ensure that you are well equipped for the trip.
Rock Climbing Gear
The following list of climbing gear will protect you and make your next excursion rather memorable.
Climbing shoes are important to enhance your rock climbing ability and performance. The ideal footwear for climbers will have smooth rubber soles to protect their feet for the sharp ragged rocks. They allow enough grip for the climber to move along the rocky surface without slipping. Unlike runner shoes, climbing shoes are meant to fit tight to allow better traction.
There are many options when choosing a suitable rope for the climb. Each rope has their own list of technical specifications to look over when making a decision to pick the best one to help with efficiency and safety. Any rope that is chosen needs to perform the basic functions of protecting the climber and catching any slips or falls.
Traditional climbing rope, also known as the low elongation rope, was made by weaving together just three thick strands of fiber. This proved to have a disadvantage because it lacked the capability to stretch. If a climber fell, they would jolt as the rope tries to stop them instead of gently stopping like the modern climbing rope.
Climbing ropes, today, usually are made up of two layers: an inner layer called kern and a protective outer called mantle. Kernmantle rope is a common rope that is used by most modern day climbers because its strength, durability, and flexibility properties. The inner core is made out of strands of nylon that are twisted together to give a dynamic stretch when catching a slip or fall. The mantle is a tube of woven nylon strands that is intended to protect the core and resist any abrasions from rocky surfaces.
Traditional carabiner is made up of steel but modern ones are constructed from aluminum alloy because of its lightweight properties.
Modern carabiners are lightweight, metal loops used during climbing expeditions to connect things together such as the climber to the rope, a rope to a protective piece, or pieces to climbing harnesses. They can be found in a wide range of forms with varying gates depending on their intended use.
Carabiners have four basic shapes: Oval, D shape, Offset-D, and Pear. There are variety of gate options that include standard straight gates, bent-gate, and a wire-gate. You can also select different locking carabiners to prevent accidental opening during a climb or if you need one for a quickdraw.
Quickdraws or draws are essential connectors for ropes and are used to fasten protective gear or as anchors. It is made up of a short, pre-sewn webbing that forms a loop with two carabiners on either side. Instead of a one-size-fits-all design, they are made for specific disciplines.
Most models can be found under three categories: sport, traditional and Alpine, or All-around. Sport draws are larger carabiners for a quick clip and are usually easy to grab. Traditional and Alpine are narrow, lightweight carabiners. All-around are created to have a universal use.
Webbing is a flat tube or strip woven from nylon, polypropylene, or polyester and cauterized at the ends to prevent fraying. This allows a climber to utilize it for its strength characteristics without being bulky like most ropes. It is used for slings, runners, harnesses, anchor extensions, and quickdraws.
A harness is used as a system to connect the rope to the climber. Standard harnesses are customized with a nylon belt for the waist and a pair of loops to fit over a climber’s thighs. It provides comfortable support for climbers by supporting their body weight in their legs rather than their waist.
There are a variety of harness designs with different functions and characteristics. Alpine climbers prefer a lightweight harness while big wall climbers need a padded harness. Sport climbers usually go for more of a minimalistic harness. There are full body harnesses that are suitable for children or situations that need to bear heavy loads
Climbers who have experienced falls know the importance of a good belay device. Their purpose is to lock the rope while ascending and will stop any momentum in case of an accidental fall. They are basically brake devices that manipulates the climber’s rope. Picking the right one increases confidence during climbing adventures.
There are a variety of designs to choose from when selecting belay devices but the three main types include:
tube style, auto-locking, or auto-blocking.
A belay device that is handy and is traditionally used for belaying and rappelling techniques. It is a great tool for beginning climbers and will probably be in their arsenal for years to come.
This device is great for belaying for a long period of time off of big walls or for those who will be hanging on rope a lot.
Auto-blocking devices are versatile and great for using it for leading or following others and rappelling. It allows for belaying off an anchor to save energy.
8. Rappel Devices
Belaying devices are used during a climb up while rappel devices are designed for the descending climber. Some common devices include:
Named after its design, it is a common device for descending but can be a substitute for a belay device. It allows for a quickly controlled descent and accommodates many rope sizes.
Similar to the figure eight, it also has side ears to add friction to prevent the rope from locking up while rappelling.
The Pirana is made up of a metal loop with double prongs on the bottom. Ideal for canyoneering, the Pirana has a variety of friction modes that allows for slower descending speeds.
The Rappel Rack is a u-shaped frame that attaches to the harness. The friction can be adjusted so it is chosen by cavers for their long rappels.
Choosing the right gear is very important for comfort, safety, and protection during rock climbing adventures. Additional gear that would further enhance an experience and should certainly be considered include nuts, hexes, spring loaded camming devices as well as protective accessories such as helmets and belaying gloves.