Rock-climbing equipment

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Climber with helmet, harness, rope, spring-loaded cams, nuts, a tricam, and quickdraws

A wide range ofequipmentis used during rock or any other type of climbing that includes equipment commonly used toprotect a climberagainst the consequences of a fall.1

See also theGlossary of climbing termsfor more equipment descriptions.

Climbing ropes are typically ofkernmantleconstruction, consisting of a core (kern) of long twisted fibres and an outer sheath (mantle) of woven coloured fibres. The core provides about 80% of thetensile strength, while the sheath is a durable layer that protects the core and gives the rope desirable handling characteristics.

Ropes used for climbing can be divided into two classes: dynamic ropes and low elongation ropes (sometimes called static ropes). Dynamic ropes are designed to absorb the energy of a falling climber, and are usually used asBelayingropes. When a climber falls, the rope stretches, reducing the maximum force experienced by the climber, their belayer, and equipment. Low elongation ropes stretch much less, and are usually used inanchoringsystems. They are also used forabseiling (rappelling)and asfixed ropesclimbed withascenders.

Modern webbing or tape is made of nylon orSpectra/Dyneema, or a combination of the two. Climbing-specific nylon webbing is generally tubular webbing, that is, it is a tube of nylon pressed flat. It is very strong, generally rated in excess of 9kN (2,000lbf). Dyneema is even stronger, often rated above 20kN (4,500lbf) and as high as 27kN (6,100lbf).citation neededIn 2010, UK-based DMM performedfall factor1 and 2 tests on various Dyneema and Nylon webbings, showing Dyneema slings can fail even under 60cm falls. Tying knots in Dyneema webbing was proven to have reduced the total amount of supported force by as much as half.2

When webbing is sewn or tied together at the ends, it becomes a sling or runner, and if you clip a carabiner to each end of the sling, you have aquickdraw. These loops are made one of two wayssewn (using reinforced stitching) or tied. Both ways of forming runners have advantages and drawbacks, and it is for the individual climber to choose which to use. Generally speaking, most climbers carry a few of both types. It is also important to note that only nylon can be safely knotted into a runner (usually using awater knotorbeer knot), Dyneema is always sewn because the fibers are too slippery to hold a knot under weight.

Extending the distance betweenprotectionand a tie-in point.

An anchor extension orequalization.

Carrying equipment (clipped to a sling worn over the shoulder).

Protecting a rope that hangs over a sharp edge (tubular webbing).

Carabiners are metal loops with spring-loaded gates (openings), used as connectors. Once made primarily from steel, almost all carabiners for recreational climbing are now made from a light weightaluminumalloy. Steel carabiners are much heavier, but harder wearing, and therefore are often used by instructors when working with groups.

Carabiners exist in various forms; the shape of the carabiner and the type of gate varies according to the use for which it is intended. There are two major varieties: locking and non-locking carabiners. Locking carabiners offer a method of preventing the gate from opening when in use. Locking carabiners are used for important connections, such as at the anchor point or a belay device. There are several different types of locking carabiners, including a twist-lock and a thread-lock. Twist-lock carabiners are commonly referred to as auto-locking carabiners due to their spring-loaded locking mechanism. Non-locking carabiners are commonly found as a component ofquickdraws.

Carabiners are made with many different types of gates including wire-gate, bent-gate, and straight-gate. The different gates have different strengths and uses. Most locking carabiners utilize a straight-gate. Bent-gate and wire-gate carabiners are usually found on the rope-end of quickdraws, as they facilitate easier rope clipping than straight-gate carabiners.

Carabiners are also known by many slang names includingbiner(pronounced beaner) orKrab.

The first climber who used a carabiner for climbing was German climberOtto Herzog.3

TheMaillon(or Maillon Rapide) performs a similar function to a carabiner but instead of a hinge has an internally threaded sleeve engaging with threads on each end of the link, and is available in various shapes and sizes. They are very strong but more difficult to open, either deliberately or accidentally, so are used for links which do not need to be released during normal use, such as the center of a harness.

Quickdraws (often referred to as draws) are used by climbers to connect ropes to bolt anchors, or to other traditional protection, allowing the rope to move through the anchoring system with minimal friction. A quickdraw consists of two non-locking carabiners connected together by a short, pre-sewn loop of webbing. Alternatively, and quite regularly, the pre-sewn webbing is replaced by a sling of the above-mentioned dyneema/nylon webbing. This is usually of a 60cm loop and can be tripled over between the carabiners to form a 20cm loop. Then when more length is needed the sling can be turned back into a 60cm loop offering more versatility than a pre-sewn loop. Carabiners used for clipping into the protection generally have a straight gate, decreasing the possibility of the carabiner accidentally unclipping from the protection. The carabiner into which the rope is clipped often has a bent gate, so that clipping the rope into this carabiner can be done quickly and easily. Quickdraws are also frequently used in indoorlead climbing. The quickdraw may be pre-attached to the wall. When a climber ascends the wall, (s)he must clip the rope through the quickdraw in order to maintain safety. The safest, easiest and most effective place to clip into a quickdraw is when it is at waist height.

A harness is a system used for connecting the rope to the climber. There are two loops at the front of the harness where the climber ties into the rope at the working end using afigure-eight knot. Most harnesses used in climbing are preconstructed and are worn around the pelvis and hips, although other types are used occasionally.

Different types of climbing warrant particular features for harnesses.Sport climberstypically use minimalistic harnesses, some with sewn-on gear loops. Alpine climbers often choose lightweight harnesses, perhaps with detachable leg loops.Big Wallclimbers generally prefer padded waist belts and leg loops. There are also full body harnesses for children, whose pelvises may be too narrow to support a standard harness safely. These harnesses prevent children from falling even when inverted, and are either manufactured for children or constructed out of webbing. Some climbers use full body harnesses when there is a chance of inverting, or when carrying a heavy bag. There are also chest harnesses, which are used only in combination with a sit harness; this combination provides the same advantages as a full body harness. However, test results from UIAA show that chest harnesses can put more impact on the neck than sit harnesses, making them slightly more dangerous to use.

Apart from these harnesses, there are also caving and canyoning harnesses, which all serve different purposes. For example, a caving harness is made of tough waterproof and unpadded material, with dual attachment points. Releasing themaillonfrom these attachment points loosens the harness quickly.

Canyoning harnesses are somewhat like climbing harnesses, often without the padding, but with a seat protector, making it more comfortable torappel. These usually have a single attachment point ofDyneema.

Belaydevices are mechanical friction brake devices used to control a rope when belaying. Their main purpose is to allow the rope to be locked off with minimal effort to arrest a climbers fall. Multiple kinds of belay devices exist, some of which may additionally be used as descenders for controlled descent on a rope, as inabseilingor rappelling.

Belay devices are available in both passive and active designs:

Passive belay devices rely on the belayers brake hand and a carabiner to lock off the rope.Sticht platesand the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) line of belay devices byBlack Diamond Equipmentare examples of passive belay devices. If a belay device is lost or damaged, aMunter hitchon a carabiner can be used as an improvised passive belay device.

Active belay devices have a built-in mechanism that locks off the rope without the help of any other pieces of equipment. TheGriGribyPetzlis an example of an active belay device. The offset cam in the GriGri locks off the rope automatically to catch a falling climber, much like a seat belt in a car locks off to hold a passenger securely.

These devices are friction brakes which are designed for descending ropes. Manybelay devicescan be used as descenders, but there are descenders that are not practical for belaying, since it is too difficult to feed rope through them, or because they do not provide sufficient friction to hold a hard fall.

Sometimes called figure of eight or just eight, this device is most commonly used as a descender, but may also be used as a belay device in the absence of more appropriate equipment.

It is an aluminum or steel 8 shaped device, but comes in several varieties. Its main advantage is efficient heat dissipation. A square eight, used in rescue applications, is better for rappelling than the traditional 8.

Figure eights allow fast but controlled descent on a rope. They are easy to set up and are effective in dissipating the heat caused by friction but can have a tendency to cause a rope to twist. Holding the brake hand off to the side twists the rope, whereas holding the brake hand straight down, parallel to the body, allows a controlled descent without twisting the rope. An 8 descender can wear a rope more quickly than a tube style belay/rappel device because of the many bends it puts into the rope. Many sport climbers also avoid them because of the extra bulk a Figure 8 puts on theclimbing rack. However, many ice climbers prefer to use the 8, because it is much easier to thread with stiff or frozen rope.

A rescue eight is a variation of a figure eight, with ears or wings which prevent the rope from locking up or creating alarks headorgirth hitch, thus stranding the rappeller on the rope. Rescue eights are frequently made of steel, rather than aluminum.

This consists of a U shaped frame, attached to the rappellers harness, into which snap multiple bars that pivot from the other side of the frame. The rope is woven through as many of the bars as are required to provide sufficient friction. This arrangement allows for variations in rope diameter and condition, as well as controlled rate of descent. Racks are seldom used in sport climbing. Cavers often use racks on long rappels because friction can be adjusted by adding or removing bars.

Ascenders are mechanical devices for ascending on a rope. They are also called Jumars, after a popular brand.

Jumars perform the same functionality as friction knots but less effort is needed to use them. A Jumar employs a cam which allows the device to slide freely in one direction but tightly grip the rope when pulled on in the opposite direction. To prevent a jumar from accidentally coming off the rope, a locking carabiner is used. The Jumar is first attached to the climbers harness by a piece of webbing or sling, and then the Jumar is clipped onto the rope and locked. Two ascenders are normally used to climb a fixed rope. For climbing a fixed rope attached to snow anchors on a steep slope, only one Jumar is used as the other hand is used for holding theice axe.

Another type of ascender allows rope to feed in either direction, slowly, but locks up when pulled quickly. Suchself-locking devicesallow people to protect solo climbs because the amount of rope is automatically adjusted.

Aslingorrunneris an item ofclimbing equipmentconsisting of a tied or sewn loop ofwebbingthat can be wrapped around sections of rock, hitched (tied) to other pieces of equipment or even tied directly to a tensioned line using aprusik knot, foranchorextension (to reducerope dragand for other purposes), equalisation, or climbing the rope.

A daisy chain is a strap, several feet long and typically constructed from one-inch tubular nylon webbing of the same type used in lengthening straps between anchor-points and the main rope. The webbing isbar tackedat roughly two-inch intervals (or, in the past, tied) to create a length of small loops for attachment. Unlike the use of similar devices in backpacking, daisy chains in technical rock climbing are expected to be of sufficient strength to be load bearing. Daisy chain pockets however are not rated to full strength, and can only take static loads.

When clipped in, daisy chains should not be shortened by clipping in another pocket to the same carabiner. Failure of the pocket stitching results in the daisy chain disconnecting from the anchor, with potentially fatal consequences. If shortening the daisy chain when clipped in, in order to eliminate dangerous slack, a second carabiner should be used to connect to the anchor.4

Though daisy chains are sometimes used by free climbers as a type ofsling(a quick attachment used from harness directly to a belay anchor), and for ad hoc purposes similar to those of the backpacker, the canonical use for a daisy chain is inaid climbing, wherein the leader will typically attach one end to the harness, and the other to the top-most anchor placement (bycarabinerorfifi hook), particularly after having ascended intriersas high as possible. This allows the leader to hang from the daisy chain while preparing the next anchor placement. The closely spaced loops allow fine-tuning the length from harness to anchor, thereby allowing the best possible reach for the next placement.

Daisy chains should not be confused with triers, also known asaiders, which are short ladders made in the same way, but with larger loops, also used in aid climbing, nor with load-limiting devices often known asscreamers(from their first trade name) designed to simulate a dynamicbelay.

Protection devices, collectively known asrock protectionorpro, provide the means to place temporary anchor points on the rock. These devices may be categorized aspassive(e.g., nuts) oractivesuch as aspring-loaded camming deviceor SLCD. Passive protection acts merely as a choke when pulled on, and constrictions in the rock prevent it from pulling out. Active protection transforms a pull on the device into an outward pressure on the rock that helps the device set more firmly. The type of protection that is most appropriate varies depending on the nature of the rock.

Nuts are manufactured in many different varieties. In their simplest form, they are just a small block of metal attached to a loop of cord or wire. They are used by simply wedging them into narrowing cracks in the rock, then giving them a tug to set them. Nuts are sometimes referred to by theslangterm,wires.

Hexesare the oldest form of active protection. They consist of a hollow eccentric hexagonal prism with tapered ends, usually threaded with cord or webbing. They are frequently placed as a passive chock, but are more commonly placed in active camming positions. In the standard active placement, a fall causes the hex to twist in its placement exerting sideways force on the rock in which it is placed. They are manufactured by several firms, with a range of sizes varying from about 10mm thick to 100mm wide. Sides may be straight or curved.

Wedgies are built with a double-taper to fit slight flares and more typical cracks alike. Available individually or in sets, each is extruded and machined from 6000-series, aircraft-quality aluminum alloy and anodized for instant identification on your rack. Slung with strong, braided steel cable, theyre built for years of use.

These consist of three or fourcamsmounted on a common axle or two adjacent axles, in such a way that pulling on the shaft connected to the axle forces the cams to spread further apart. The SLCD is used like asyringe, by pulling the cams via a trigger (a small handle) which forces them closer, inserting it into a crack or pocket in the rock, and then releasing the trigger. The springs make the cams expand and grip the rock face securely. A climbing rope may then be attached to the end of the stem via aslingandcarabiner. SLCDs are typically designed to maintain a constant camming angle with the rock to ensure that the normal force provided by the cam lobes against the rock face will supply enough friction to hold a cam in equilibrium with the rock. These devices are also known as friends for example, as they are in the UK.5

ATricamis a device that can be used as either active or passive protection. It consists of a shaped aluminium block attached to a length oftape(webbing). The block is shaped so that pulling on the tape makes it cam against the crack, gripping the rock tighter. Careful placement is necessary so that the cam does not loosen when not loaded. It is generally not as easy to place or remove as aSLCDbut is much cheaper and lighter, and often is the only thing that will work in situations like quarry drill-holes and limestone pockets. The smaller sizes can work well in oldpitonscars, and can also be used passively as nuts.

Various items of equipment are employed during climbing-specific training.

A wooden or resin board used for improving contact strength for climbers. It develops the forearm muscles along with the tendons and pulleys of the fingers.

They consist of a variety of different-sized pockets and edges that are designed to be hung from with various training protocols. These pockets and edges can range from large jug holds to micro crimp edges. When used effectively they can facilitate huge gains in forearm strength and lock off strength, mostly in theflexor digitorum profundusandflexor digitorum superficialismuscles of the fore arms. They are also an apparatus with the capability to injure the user, usually in theA1-4 pulleysor along sections offlexor carpi sheathlinking the different FDS or FDP sections in the forearm.

Hangboards are the best way to increase contact strength for rock climbers, and when following a well established training protocol, tremendous gains in strength can be made over the long term. Training is usually done in cycles.

Hangboards are usually mounted above a doorway, or anywhere that allows the users body to hang freely, one of the best available attachment areas is to roof beams. They are also called fingerboards.

A small device that can help in developing the antagonist muscles to those used while gripping with the hand. Use of such a device can prevent the ligament injuries that are frequently experienced by climbers.citation needed

A series of horizontal rungs attached to an overhanging surface that may be climbed up and down without the aid of the feet. When used properly, campus boards can improve finger strength and so-called contact strength.

A bachar ladder is made by stringing large diameter PVC piping on webbing and is climbed without using the feet. It can help improve overall upper body strength as well as core strength.

In the early days of climbing, many would have considered specialised clothing to be cheating. In fact, the first climbers considered an untucked shirt or unbuttoned sport jacket a sign of weakness. Several climbers even chose to climb barefoot, an act that modern climbers would find amazing. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the trend was to wear tight, brightly coloured clothes often made fromSpandex. The trend, now, is to wear looser-fitting clothing. Trousers can be tailored to prevent them from restricting movement by adding features such as articulated knee joints and diamond crotch.

The climbing helmet is a piece of safety equipment that primarily protects the skull against falling debris (such as rocks or dropped pieces of protection) and impact forces during a fall. For example, if a lead climber allows the rope to wrap behind an ankle, a fall can flip the climber over and consequently impact the back of the head. Furthermore, any effects of pendulum from a fall that have not been compensated for by the belayer may also result in head injury to the climber. The risk of head injury to a falling climber can be further significantly mitigated byfalling correctly.

Climbers may decide whether to wear a helmet based on a number of factors such as the type of climb being attempted, concerns about weight, reductions in agility, added encumbrances, or simple vanity. Additionally, there is less incentive to wear a helmet in artificial climbing environments like indoor climbing walls (where routes andholdsare regularly maintained) than on natural multi-pitch routes or ice climbing routes (where falling rocks and/or ice are likely).

Specifically designedfoot wearis usually worn forclimbing. To increase the grip of thefooton aclimbing wallor rock face due tofriction, the shoe is soled with a vulcanized rubber layer. Usually, shoes are only a few millimetres thick and fit very snugly around the foot. Stiffer shoes are used for edging, more compliant ones for smearing. Some have foam padding on the heel to make descents and rappels more comfortable. Climbing shoes can be re-soled which decreases the frequency that shoes need to be replaced.

A belay glove is a glove constructed from either leather or a synthetic substitute, is used to protect the hands when belaying, and is especially useful if using a classic or body belay. They are also very useful for controlling the belay with single, lead ropes that are 9.5mm or smaller.6Ultimately, belay gloves can lessen the possibility of rope burn and the subsequent involuntary release of the rope.

Medical tape is useful to both prevent and repair minor injuries. For example, tape is often used to fixflappers. Many climbers use tape to bind fingers or wrists to prevent recurring tendon problems. Tape is also highly desirable for protecting hands on climbing routes that consist mostly of repeatedhand jamming.

Tape can also refer to nylon webbing.

A haul bag refers to a large, tough, and often unwieldy bag into which supplies and climbing equipment can be thrown. A rucksack or day pack often has a webbing, haul loop on the top edge.

Haul bags are often affectionately known as pigs due to their unwieldy nature.

A gear sling is usually used bytrad(traditional), or big wall climbers when they have too much gear to fit onto the gear loops of their harnesses. The simplest forms are homemade slings of webbing; more elaborate forms are padded.

Chalk is used by nearly all climbers to absorb problematic moisture, often sweat, on the hands. Typically, chalk is stored as a loose powder in a special chalk bag designed to prevent spillage, most often closed with a drawstring. This chalk bag is then hung by a carabiner from the climbing harness or from a simple belt worn around the climbers waist . This allows the climber to re-chalk during the climb with minimal interruption or effort. To prevent excess chalking (which can actuallydecreasefriction), some climbers will store their chalk in a chalk ball, which is then kept in the chalk bag. A chalk ball is a very fine, mesh sack that allows chalk release with minimum leakage when squeezed so that the climber can control the amount of chalk on the hands.

Chalk is most frequently white, and the repeated use of holds by freshly-chalked hands leads to chalky build-up. While this isnt a concern in an indoor gym setting, white chalk build-up on the natural rock of outdoor climbs is considered to be an eyesore at best, and many consider it a legitimate environmental/conservation concern. In the United States, theBureau of Land Managementadvocates the use of chalk that matches the color of the native rock.7Several popular climbing areas, likeArches National Parkhave banned white chalk, instead allowing the use of rock-colored chalk.Garden of the Godshas gone further, banning the use ofcalcium carbonate(the most common chalk) outright, requiring the use of a rock-colored substitute. A handful of companies make colored chalk or a chalk substitute designed to comply with these environmental conservation measures.

Cox, Steven M.; Kris Fulsaas, eds. (2009).

Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills

(7 ed.). Seattle.ISBN0898868289.

How to Break Nylon & Dyneema┬« Slings Vid – Knowledge – DMM Climbing Equipment. Innovative climbing gear, made in Wales.

JP Whitehead (2015-08-31).The Carabiner Handbook – Climbing Magazine Rock Climbing, Mountaineering, Bouldering, Ice Climbing.

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