Here’s a video from epic.tv that shows us how to properly warm up and stretch for climbing. Essential for reducing injury.
This video is made by Steve Long, a chief officer for Mountain Leader Training in the UK and author of many technical climbing handbooks. This Video is about how to tie off a belay plate as the first stage in dealing with most problems is often the requirement to free your hands.
Climbing: How to Escape the System
This is video for climbers teaching how to escape from the belay even if the rope is loaded by a fallen climber. It is an extract from the DVD Self Rescue for Climbers by the author, Steve Long
This video is made by Steve Long, a chief officer for Mountain Leader Training in the UK and author of many technical climbing handbooks. This Video is about lowering a Climbing partner off a crag.
Climbing: Abseiling Past a knot
This video is made by Steve Long, a chief officer for Mountain Leader Training in the UK and author of many technical climbing handbooks. This Video is about how to Abseil past a knot, so if you needed to tie two ropes together to be able to abseil far enough or even abseil past a damaged section of rope.
Climbing: Prusiking up a rope
This video is made by Steve Long, a chief officer for Mountain Leader Training in the UK and author of many technical climbing handbooks. This Video is about how to Prusik up a rope, for example if you abseil in to a sea-cliff but are unable to climb back out.
Climbing: The Assisted Hoist
This video is made by Steve Long, a chief officer for Mountain Leader Training in the UK and author of many technical climbing handbooks. This is about the assisted hoist, so if your climbing partner is not able to get up part of your climb then you can help them by using this technique.
BMC Helmet Guide
The BMC has launched a Helmet Campaign this year to Encourage the use of Helmets when climbing. They have produced a Helmet guide which you can download here.
Although this is aimed at climbing, this also has a lot of useful information that transfers to other sports like Kayaking and Snowboarding.
We will be talking about the three main types of protection today, Cams, Nuts and Hexes.
Nuts, also called wires or chocks. Nuts are basically blocks of metal (aluminium alloy) on the end of a wire. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit into cracks and gaps in the rock, they have also now expanded into several different types of nuts.
Generally a standard set of nuts (1-11) ranges from just under 7mm all the way up to near 4cm big. They normally have one concave side and one convex side to allow for a solid three points of action and create lots of friction on the rock, although design changes dramatically between manufactures as show in the pictures below.
Offsets such as the DMM Offset allow for even more placement opportunity because they are tapered so that they are thinner on one side. This makes them fit ino the more common cracks that get thinner as they get deeper, allowing for better contact and greater friction.
Micronuts are essential for harder climbs where gear placements are sparse and nothing else will fit. They are basically just small nuts starting from a tiny 3.2mm depth. Micronuts are weaker than standard nuts because of their size. They are often made from copper or brass and the wire that you clip into is soldered onto the head.
Hexes are basically just big lumps of metal on the end of a sling that you can just bang into a large crack or gap for a bomber (very good) placement.
Cams are spring loaded devices that expand and contract via a trigger to fit the gap you are putting them in. Upon release of the trigger they expand to fill the gap and the more weight that is put onto them, the more they push outwards creating friction on the rock, they are also very simple to get out in most cases.
They come in many different designs that have changed very much over the years. Most cams nowadays have a flexible stem (for horizontal placements), and have three or four ‘cams’ on them. Cams are unfortunately very expensive though so they are a bit of an investment but on some climbs(usually on certain types of rock they are the only bits of gear that will stay in the rock.
So what do you recommend?
For a basic set of nuts I would recommend The Wild country Rocks because they are cheap and practical, if you have a bit more cash to spend then the DMM nuts are a great buy because they do just tend to fit into the rock a bit better than the more simple design of the Wild Country’s. DMM offsets are an amazing buy if you have the money, they just fit everywhere. Micronuts are generally only needed on harder climbs and these tiny things are the only thing you can use, so unless you are climbing hard and are in need of them then I would leave them. A set of hexes are another vital buy because they just provide bomber protection, if you get one of these in then you are happy as Larry, I would say either the DMM’s or the Wild countries are great, its the same as the nuts, the DMMS are more expensive but they sometimes tend to fit better and the Wild Country’s are cheaper but still very good.. Cams are great but expensive, If you can afford them then great. I personally love the DMM 4CU’s because they are a good price and I love the trigger action. The Dragon Cams and the Helium Cams are great also but more expensive, I believe that cams are more of a personal preference, they all work but I prefer to use the double stem on the 4CU’s as I just find it easier to use.
I hope this guide was helpful and If you have any questions then let us know in the comments…
The ropes we use nowadays are called Kernmantel ropes. Kernmantel ropes were invented around the 1950’s, the ropes are made up of two layers, a core and a sheath, the core provides the strength and elasticity of the rope and the sheath provides protection to the core. The core is made of nylon filaments which are spun together to make a strong yarn, the yarns are then coated with a protective layer. Around four to six yarns are combined to make braids that are twisted to create the core of the rope.
Types of ropes
Single ropes are the most common, they are marked with a 1 in a circle. They are generally around 9.4-11mm thick. They are most useful for pretty much any type of roped climbing and the only main disadvantages are if you are trad (placing protection yourself) climbing and the route is a bit all over the place then the rope going from side to side causes a lot of rope drag. The other thing is for abseiling, you can only abseil a distance of half the length of your rope (thats if you want your rope back!).
Half ropes are very common in winter climbing, trad climbing and multi-pitch routes. They are marked with ½ inside a circle and are about 8-9mm in thickness. They allow for two separate ropes to be used on one climb, so you can clip one rope into runners on the right hand side and the other rope into runners on the left, this significantly reduces rope drag on zigzagging climbs. The other advantage is if you tie the two ropes together you can abseil twice the distance as one single rope. Two half ropes are bulkier and heavier than one single rope though.
Twin ropes are less popular but used often in winter climbing. They are marked with two overlapping circles inside a circle and are generally around 7.5-8.5mm thick. They must be clipped in to each runner together so they cannot be used to reduce rope drag but two twin ropes can be almost as light as one single rope. They can also be tied together for abseiling.
Confidence ropes are just walking ropes really, they are much thinner and weaker and are marked with a 0 inside a circle. They are great for walking use as they are small and light. Never to be used for lead climbing
Static or low-stretch ropes are perfect for applications where stretch in the rope is not desirable such as abseiling and often rigging bottom ropes and for tyrolean traverses. Should never be used for lead climbing.
How long should my rope be?
This depends o what you are doing. For most UK single pitch climbing you can get away with a 50 metre rope but for many bolted routes in the UK and around the world, and even lots of indoor climbing centres. You will need a 60 metre or above. Generally 60meters will cover you for most situations and unless you are going somewhere where you know you will need longer, that is what I would go for.
How long will my rope last
That is difficult to say and depends on a number of factors, if you are unsure of the safety of your rope then you should consult a professional or just ditch it. A rough lifespan and guide for when to ditch your rope is below (source: Mammut Ropes).
|Frequency of User||Approximate Life Span|
|Never used||10 years maximum|
|Rarely used: twice per year||up to 7 years|
|Occasionally used: once per month||up to 5 years|
|Regularly used: several times per month||up to 3 years|
|Frequently used: each week||up to 1 year|
|Constantly used: almost daily||less than 1 year|
Independent of frequency of use, a rope should be disposed of if:
- The rope came in contact with chemicals, particularly acids.
- The sheath is damaged and the core is visible.
- The sheath is extremely worn, or particularly fuzzy.
- The sheath has slipped noticeably.
- Strong deformations are present (stiffness, nicks, sponginess).
- The rope was subjected to extreme loads (e.g. heavy falls, clearly over fall factor 1).
- The rope is extremely dirty (grease, oil, tar).
- Heat, abrasion, or friction burns have caused damage.
This is only a guide about ropes in general, it is not intended to teach you how to use ropes safely, always consult manufacturers guidelines. Pictures from Mammut Ropes.