Activity Climbing

The Right Gear
for a Versatile Sport

 

Climbing has many faces

“Shall we go climbing tomorrow?” Depending on the time of year, the region, and your personal preferences, you’ll attach yourself to your climbing rope the next day in all sorts of situations. You might be in the climbing gym round the corner or in your local area and wanting to check out a new project or you may have just completed a strenuous ascent to the start of a multi-pitch tour. Climbing is extremely versatile:


 

rock or plastic, lead climbing or toproping, 28 or 500 meters, rock anchors or mobile belay devices. It’s not just the external factors that differ; climbers’ targets and motivation differ too. Some people want to de-stress at the end of their working day, others want to face their fears, improve their strength and technique, push their limits, or simply enjoy an active day in the great outdoors.

Your gear needs will differ depending on your plans. While only minimal gear is required for gyms, your list gets ever longer and more complex if you head outside to the crag to go sport or even multi-pitch climbing.

As with all mountain sports, it is imperative to know exactly how your gear works. Whenever you enter new terrain, you should always do some basic training in the relevant rope and belay techniques. The Alpine clubs (e.g. American Alpin Club), mountain schools, and climbing gyms offer courses for different needs.

Sport climbing in the gym

Indoor climbing has become a popular recreational sport. Climbing gyms can be found almost anywhere and have long-since developed from mere training places for the season at the crag. Gym concepts are becoming ever more sophisticated, colorful designs adorn the walls, shapers create ever more unusual holds, and bolters design increasingly creative routes. Beginners, intermediates, and pros all climb side by side and can enjoy the most varied challenges.


 

The list of gear needed to climb in a gym is relatively short:

Depending on the height of the gym, you’ll need a rope with a length of between 35 and 50 meters. For the frequent loads in the climbing gym, we recommend a particularly abrasion-resistant rope with a compact, smooth sheath finish like the BOA GYM 9.8 MM. With regard to the harness, belay device, and chalk bag, you should choose products that you can confidently use and find the most comfortable. We love the JUL2, which makes even thicker ropes easy to handle, the comfortable, lightweight MOE harness, and the RODEO LARGE chalk bag.

Sport climbing at the crag

Onsight, flash, or redpoint climbs, or simply enjoying getting out on the natural rock: with sport climbing, the focus is on the sporting element, i.e. completing a route of a certain difficulty. The routes are equipped with rock anchors and are one rope pitch long. There are countless different areas and the widest array of rock types all over the world. When outdoors, you can climb limestone, basalt, sandstone, quartz, conglomerate, or granite. Nature offers almost endless challenges. There are flat, vertical, steep, and overhanging routes with cracks, ledges, holes, huecos, slopers, and tufas. Sport climbing can take you to the broadest range of ecosystems: dry, volcanic regions like Smith Rocks (USA), green forests with streams and rivers such as the Frankenjura (Germany), walls directly above the sea in Kalymnos (Greece) or Ton Sai (Thailand), or desert areas such as Arapiles (Australia). Sport climbing is an inherently versatile sport with almost endless possibilities.

Your sport climbing gear comprises a rope, quickdraw slings for attaching to protection, a belay device with a suitable locking carabiner, shoes, a helmet, a chalk bag, and possibly a rope bag. Depending on the region, you may need to set up a belay at the top of the route for lowering or need additional gear such as a webbing sling and locking carabiner depending on the method.

It can often be wise for your sport climbing rope to be impregnated for use at the crag. This not only prevents it from absorbing water, but also stops dirt and sand from penetrating the rope and slowly damaging it ‘from the inside’. The CANARY PRO DRY 8.6 MM is a good choice for anyone who primarily enjoys onsight and flash climbs and needs a light rope for redpointing. For the fall-intensive process of checking out routes, when working the crux, or when toproping, on the other hand, we recommend a rope with a high sheath proportion like the TOMMY CALDWELL ECO DRY DT 9.6 MM. The JAY and JAYNE are ideal sport climbing harnesses. The SHIELD helmet, the ROPE RIDER BAG, and our durable quickdraws, the BULLETPROOF sets, are also ideal companions.

Alpine climbing/ multi-pitch routes

High walls, breathtaking views, mountain scenery, and great exposure—these are the draws of Alpine climbing. Climbing a hundred-meter rock face is both mentally and physically challenging. Both the planning and the gear are far more complex than with sport climbing. Even the initial ascent before you actually start climbing can be strenuous. In the case of multi-pitch climbs, you are on the wall for hours and belay your partner from stations that can sometimes be very exposed. Today, there are lots of multi-pitch routes that are set up for plaisir climbing. These Alpine sport routes are equipped with rock anchors and belay stations. When tackling them, you once again have to prepare yourself for being several meters above the last anchor and sometimes needing to attach additional protection.

Classic routes, on the other hand, are equipped far more sparsely in this regard and need climbers to attach their own mobile protection and possess sound knowledge of how to create belay stations.

You can use your basic sport climbing gear for multi-pitch tours and Alpine routes by supplementing it with several important items:

The best equipment for multipitches

Depending whether you have chosen a route from a plaisir climbing guide or an Alpine classic, you can head out with a single rope or should instead climb with half or twin ropes. These have a smaller diameter, are used as a double strand, and reduce the risk of total failure (e.g. due to rockfall or falling over a sharp edge). You can also rappel down the full length, which makes you more flexible and enables you to retreat from the wall quicker if necessary (e.g. due to a sudden change in the weather). The STARLING PROTECT PRO DRY 8.2 MM is a perfect rope for alpine adventures. In terms of helmets, we recommend the ultra-light SALATHE. Your harness should be comfortable, light, and well-equipped for Alpine climbing, as with the SENDERO for men and the AUTANA for women. The MISSION SET is an ultra-light quickdraw set with a keylock closure that is also available in a longer version with a Dyneema sling that can be extended to improve the rope’s run-through. The GIGA JUL’s versatility makes it the perfect belay and rappel device for Alpine terrain.