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Climbing


Lessons & Associations Catalog The Basics



Gear


Compared to most sports, climbing is pretty inexpensive, at least initially. To get started you only need the basics for indoor walls: shoes and harness. Once you head outside, you'll want to get a helmet, belay device, and rope. It's not until you begin lead climbing, using your own protection does it get a bit costly. A full rack of chalks and protection is expensive.

When purchasing equipment, look for the UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme) certification label. The UIAA is also known as the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation. This organization has very strict and rigorous testing procedures for products. You can be confident that these product designs have been well tested and meet high standards.

Your equipment won't last a lifetime, but with proper care you'll get more and safer use out of it. Never store any of your gear, especially your nylon harness and rope in direct sun light, and keep them clean. Make sure to always follow the manufacturer's instructions on proper care. Always keep your equipment in the best condition; after all it will be save your life.

With this sport more than any other, it's important to be an expert in your equipment and your safety procedures. Seek out as much information and experience as possible. The information on this site is provided as an overview, and covers only the basic equipment needed for top roping. Lead climbing has a whole spectrum of other equipment.

Harness

The standard harness is made of nylon webbing. The straps run around your waist and your legs. Harnesses all look about the same, but there are two typical styles. One has separate leg loops and the other is more of a diaper style. The leg-loop harness is the most common, using a belay loop to attach the legs and waist straps. The diaper style attaches its leg loops through the legs. This style is usually more adjustable and can provide a better fit for women.



Leg Loop Harness Diaper Harness
Your decision comes down to proper fit. The harness must fit snugly around your waist, above your hipbones, and your legs. The distance between your waist and your leg loops is referred to as the rise. In women's harnesses the rise will be longer. However, you may find a man's harness that fit's fine. You should be able to test out the harness at a shop, suspending you from an indoor device so you can feel how the weight is supported.

Keep in mind that not all your falls will be straight up and down. You may fall upside down. Your harness must hold you no matter how you fall. The standard harness is designed for a body that's shoulders and hips are wider than the waist. Of course bodies come in all shapes and sizes. If your waist is larger than your hips, the force of an upside down fall may cause you to slip out. If this is the case, you'll need to look into a chest harness.

If you plan to climb during the winter with additional clothing layers, you'll need a harness that will adjust for clothes.

Harnesses offer few options. Some have a Velcro and buckle closing. Easy to use, but can also be easy to forget to fully secure the closing. A harness should have gear loops for attaching climbing equipment. These are typically designed for carrying lead climbing gear. Gear loops are not designed to take any pressure. You should never attach a belay or repelling line to a gear loop.



Arc'teryx Manufacturing Inc.
170 Harbour Avenue
N. Vancouver, BC V7J 2E6
Canada
Tel. 800-985-6681
www.arcteryx.com
Arcteryx Logo



Black Diamond Equipment Ltd.
2084 East 3900 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84124, USA
Tel. 801-278-5533
www.blackdiamondequipment.com
Black Diamond Logo



Blue Water
209 Lovvorn Road
Carrollton, GA 30117, USA
Tel. 770-283-7515
www.bluewaterropes.com


Metolius Mountain Products
63189 Nels Anderson Road
Bend, OR 97701, USA
Tel. 541-382-7585
www.metoliusclimbing.com
Metolius Logo



Misty Mountain Threadworks
718 Burma Road
Banner Elk, NC 28604, USABR> Tel. 828-963-6688
www.mistymountain.com


Petzl America
P.O. Box 160447
Clearfield, UT 84016, USA
Tel. 877-80 PETZL (877-807-3895)
www.petzl.com
Petzl Logo


Climbing Shoes

These are your "dancing" shoes. Shoes fall into several different categories and are designed for different uses. The categories include sport routes, cracks, long routes, bouldering, gym, and all-purpose. To begin with you'll want to look for an all-purpose shoe. It will do a little of everything and allow you to get your feet in shape. Yes, that's right there is one more area of the body that needs to be exercised. The more you climb the stronger your feet will get. Until your feet are strong you'll want a shoe that provides support.

There are climbing shoes for each specialty and each type of rock surface. There are relatively ridged shoes (edging shoes) that allow the climber to stand on very narrow ridges. On the other hand there are shoes that are very soft (friction shoes), providing maximum friction on a rock surface. The rock will actually press into the sole of the shoe. The climbing slipper is most similar to bare feet, soft and sensitive. It allows the climber to actually grip with their feet. Very useful when climbing overhangs.

You've probably noticed the different shapes of climbing shoes. One style is flat like a regular shoe. The other is pre-shaped in an arch. Shoes are designed around a last, which gives a shoe its basic shape. Manufacturers have their own unique lasts. There are 2 categories for climbing shoes, traditional last and a cambered last. The traditional last shape is flat, and the cambered last is arched. The pre-shaped shoe is an advantage, but for longer routes the discomfort makes them impractical.

Traditional Last Cambered Last
As a beginner you should consider an all-purpose shoe with a traditional last, which allows for all type of surfaces. This shoe isn't of lessor quality and is what most will use on long routes with varying terrain. It will have some edging and some friction qualities. Until you specialize, this is a good place to start.

Fitting shoes is a bit tricky. You're not looking for comfort, but a precise fit. You also need to consider that most shoes will stretch at least half a size. And, unlined shoes will stretch more than a lined shoe. Some of the newer models are being made with synthetic leather, which stretches very little.

There are some women's shoes on the market, not a lot but some. Since women's feet are much different than men's, this is a good place to start. Women typically have narrower heels, high arches and smaller feet. This is not to say that you can't find a man's shoe that fits right.

Climbing shoes run about 120.00 US$. They're not made for walking around in them. So to get the most out of them, only wear them while climbing. They'll last longer. You can also have your climbing shoes resoled when they start to wear out.



Advanced Base Camp
4375 West 1980 South, #100
Salt Lake City, UT 84104, USA
Tel. 888-90 CLIMB (888-902-5462)


Boreal USA
1062 G. Calle Negocio
Sam Clemente, CA 92673, USA
Tel. 949-498-1011
www.borealusa.com
Boreal Logo


Five Ten
P.O. Box 1185
Redlands, CA 92373, USA
Tel. 909-798-4222
www.fiveten.com Not only does Five Ten have a patented "sticky" sole; they offer women's shoes. We all know that women's feet are shaped much different than men's.
Five Ten Logo


La Sportiva
3280 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80301, USA
Tel. 303-443-8710
www.sportiva.com
La Sportiva Logo


Scarpa/Black Diamond Eqiup.
2084 East 3900 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84124, USA
Tel. 801-278-5533
www.scarpa.co.uk
Scarpa Logo


Chalk and Chalk Bags

Using chalk looks really cool, but there are some environmental and etiquette issues. Chalk is used to keep your hands dry from perspiration while climbing, similar to gymnast. However, it is messy and it leaves marks on the environment. We need to ensure that we leave the environment as we found it or better. A rock face's beauty is greatly diminished by white chalk marks. Literally, the sign of man's touch.


There are some alternative products on the market. One is called Grrrip. It dries your hands, but won't leave marks while climbing. There is also colored chalk that blends into the natural colors. The least you should do is reduce the amount used. The Bison Ball holds loose chalk in a thin mesh bag or nylon bag, allowing only small quantities of chalk to be sifted into you palms. This also prevents accidental spills from your chalk bag.


Bison Ball

Gyms have had problems with chalk requiring lot of clean up. You may find gyms that don't allow chalk because of the mess.

The chalk bag is just a "fun" purchase, nothing too technical here. The bag should close securely to keep the chalk inside and out of your gear bag. Other than that you should find one that best represents your personal style. There will be a lot to choose from! Bright colors and cool designs. Go wild!

Helmet

For some reason in the past helmets weren't thought of as mandatory safety gear. This is hard to understand with climbing, because falling is part of the sport. Between you falling off the rock face and rocks being dislodged and falling on top of you, helmets should be a requirement. Consider it part of your standard gear.

The climbing helmet is designed to protect you head from sideways impacts such as a fall and direct top impacts from falling objects. The UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme) certifies helmets that have met their extensive testing. Make sure the helmet you purchase has the UIAA label.

The most important element when choosing a helmet is proper fit. The front should fully cover your forehead. It's common to see helmets that have been pushed back exposing this critical area. Proper fit also means that is stays in place. Not too snug to give you a headache, but it can't be sliding around. You won't have any free hands to move it back into place.

The helmet should be low profile. You can get your body into pretty tight places on the rock. You don't want your helmet to be in the way. Air vents are a nice option for the summer. And if you plan to climb in the winter, you'll want to find a helmet that will adjust so you can wear a fleece cap underneath.

Remember that the helmet won't protect you unless you wear it. You should wear it when you're belaying as well as climbing. Standing below the wall you become a prime target for falling rocks.



Advanced Base Camp
4375 West 1980 South, #100
Salt Lake City, UT 84104, USA
Tel. 888- 902-5462 (888-90 CLIMB)


Blue Water
209 Lovvorn Road
Carrollton, GA 30117, USA
Tel. 770-283-7515
They offer one of the few helmets that comes in several helmet sizes instead of one size fits all. If you have a hard time finding helmets that fit properly, this maybe a good place to start.


Climb AXE
P.O. Box 42314
Portland, OR 97242-0314, USA
Tel. 503-236-9552
www.climbaxe.com
Climb Axe Logo


Petzl America
P.O. Box 160447
Clearfield, UT 84016, USA
Tel. 877-80 PETZL (877-807-3895)
www.petzl.com
Petzl Logo


Rope

The rope is your lifeline and the quintessential equipment of climbing. You should learn as much as possible about your rope. Become an expert.

All climbing ropes used today are of kern-mantle construction. They have a core that provides the load baring ability, and the outside sheath that protects the core fibers. The core is usually white and the outside sheath is colorful. This allows you to easily identify the rope's condition. If you can see the white core, the rope's strength maybe jeopardized and you should retire the rope immediately.

Ropes are designed to stretch. If the rope didn't "give", the climber would stop suddenly. Speeds of 60 to 70 mph are possible to reach in a fall. A sudden stop would put such incredible forces on the body, that the "stop" would kill you. Not only does the stretch reduce the stresses on the body it also reduces the stresses on attached equipment.

Standard ropes are 50 meters and 11mm to 10.5mm thick. However, the lead climbing trend is towards longer and thinner ropes. The 11mm traditional rope size is standard for top roping, designed for heavy use. Ropes will be identified as Single, Double or Half, and Twin. The Single ropes are marked with a 1, double or Half with a 1/2 sign, and Twin with an infinity sign or sideways figure 8.

As you would think a single rope is used by itself. The double ropes are used in pairs and allow the lead climber to alternately clip into gear. The twin ropes are used together as one. While top roping you'll only be concerned with a single rope. When you begin lead climbing, double and twin ropes will come into play and provide added safety.

Dry coated ropes are a new option available. As you would think, the rope has a coating that repels water. Not only does it reduce the amount of moisture absorbed and thus weight, but it also makes the rope slicker. This may help to reduce drag in some climbing environments.

Care and store your ropes properly. You really need to baby your climbing gear. Dirt can damage ropes in a similar way it damages rugs. The dirt gets worked into the rope and begins to cut the threads. If your rope gets dirty you can carefully wash it and then dry it properly. Follow the manufacturer's directions for washing. You should never store or dry your ropes in direct sun. The sun brakes down the material over time.

If there is any doubt about the condition of your ropes, they should be replaced. The outside is designed to take some abuse. If the outside sheath shows quite a bit of abuse or any of the inner core is showing, it is time to replace the rope. It should also be replaced if the rope has been subjected to a major fall. A major fall exerts tremendous forces on the rope and does considerable damage to the core. Don't use a rope that is over 5 years old. Time wears down the rope's strength and ability to stretch. Also, never exposure your rope to chemicals, especially battery acid, which might be stored in your car trunk next to your climbing gear. There's a case where a rope failed because car batter acid had weakened it. The rope had been stored near a car battery.



Advanced Base Camp
4375 West 1980 South, #100
Salt Lake City, UT 84104, USA
Tel. 888-902-5462 (888-90 CLIMB)


Black Diamond Equipment Ltd.
2084 East 3900 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84124, USA
Tel. 801-278-5533
www.blackdiamondequipment.com
Black Diamond Logo



Blue Water
209 Lovvorn Road
Carrollton, GA 30117, USA
Tel. 770-283-7515


Climb High, Inc.
135 Northside Drive
Shelburne, VT 05482-6477, USA
Tel. 802-985-5056
www.climbhigh.com
Climb High Logo


Esprit Ropes, Inc.
P.O. Box 720
Parry Sound, Ontario P2A 2Z1
Canada
Tel. 888-662-3529 (888-ON BELAY)


Mammut/Adventure 16
4620 Alvarado Canyon Road
San Diego, CA 92120, USA
Tel. 619-283-6314


New England Ropes
848 Airport Road Fall River, MA 02720-4735, USA
Tel. 508-678-8200
www.neropes.com
New England Ropes Logo


Sterling Rope Company Inc.
31 Washington Street Scarborough, ME 04070, USA
Tel. 207-885-0330
www.sterlingrope.com

Sterling Rope Logo

Belay Device

There are several different devices on the market; a belay plate, tube-type belay devices like the HB Sheriff, and the GriGri. There is something to be said for the traditional belaying devices, such as the plate and the tube-type. They are low tech with no moving parts to brake. However, the GriGri might give you more confidence. It's a more substantial looking piece of equipment. It's designed to lock if the rope is jerked, and only feed out when done smoothly. You may also be more familiar with the GriGri because most gyms provide these for your first belaying lesson. You should be familiar with both incase you ever need to use the other device. You should also get a lesson in the body or hip belay. This could come in handy some day if your equipment fails. Having an extra belay plate is also worthwhile having.



Tube Type Belay GriGri Belay


Black Diamond Equipment Ltd.
2084 East 3900 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84124, USA
Tel. 801-278-5533
www.blackdiamondequipment.com
Black Diamond Logo


Climb High, Inc.
135 Northside Drive Shelburne, VT 05482-6477, USA
Tel. 802-985-5056
www.climbhigh.com
Climb High Logo


Climb AXE
P.O. Box 42314
Portland, OR 97242-0314, USA
Tel. 503-236-9552
www.climbaxe.com
Climb Axe Logo


Petzl America
P.O. Box 160447 Clearfield, UT 84016, USA
Tel. 877-807-3895 (877-80 PETZL)
www.petzl.com
Petzl Logo


Wild Country USA, Inc.
230 East Conway Road Center Conway, NH 03813, USA
Tel. 603-356-5590
www.wildcountry.co.uk
Wild Country Logo


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