Building a Climbing Rack

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Learning to climb outdoors involves acquiring several new skills, one of which is gaining a better understanding of the kind of equipment that is needed for an outdoor climb. The specific pieces of gear that a climber will use will depend on their level of experience and the location of the climb. Choosing the right equipment and building a climbing rack takes time, but here are some tips to get you started.

Black Diamond - Wired Hexentric
Black Diamond - Wired Hexentric

A Collection of Climbing Equipment

The term 'climbing rack' is used to describe the collection of control devices, slings and hardware that a climber will carry to control ropes, attach belays and protect their route. It's inevitable that a new climber's rack will have several gaps in it and this will of course hinder the type of routes which they will be able to attempt, however, the best way to resolve this issue to choose equipment for your rack that your climbing partners do not have and then share out your climbing equipment.

The climbing rack you need will be dependent on how long the route that you are attempting is, as well as how difficult it is, what the rock is made from and the kind of features that the rock formation has. The longer the route, the larger the climbing rack will have to be in order to protect it; climbs that are more challenging often involve blanker, less featured rock faces which require specialist, small gear.

It's important when building your climbing rack to ensure that the kind of equipment you include is balanced, that is, there is enough equipment in the rack for several different types of climbs. It's also essential to understand what types of equipment will be needed for different situations, so that you carry enough items to protect the climbing route, without carrying so much that you are weighed down. Experience, versatile gear, common sense and, of course, checking the route before the climb, will all play a part in achieving this balance.

Petzl - Tibloc
Petzl - Tibloc

Must-have Climbing Equipment:

For summer rock climbing, some of the basics that you will need, regardless of the location, include both passing and active protection, quickdraws and carabiners, slings, rope controllers and emergency equipment. Carabiners and quickdraws are used for almost every climbing situation and will make up a significant amount of the weight on a climbing rack, so it's best to go as light as possible without compromising on function or safety. On longer climbing routes you'll usually carry between 40 to 50 carabiners and in these instances, choosing lighter ones will save you more than a kilo in weight.

A climbing harness is yet another essential piece of climbing equipment. It should be padded around the legs and the waist, as this will make hanging far more comfortable. Try on the harness with both thick and thin clothing items, to make sure that it will fit you in both cold and warm conditions. It's also important to check that the harness sits on you symmetrically, that is, it is positioned evenly on each side of the body.

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