Tune Up Your Rock Climbing Gear & Skills

Climbing Rope Inspection

Ahhhh…springtime. The upcoming climbing season is right around the corner. And our excitement is budding like the first spring flowers. It’s the time of year to dust off our rock climbing gear and brush up our know-how. Aside from outdoor climbing itself, one fun way to get your climbing stoke going this season is a thorough inventory of your climbing gear closet and an honest evaluation of your climbing skills. It’s time for a spring clean!


Climbing Equipment Check

While inspecting rock climbing gear is an ongoing necessity, we suggest doing an annual spring-cleaning sweep of your entire inventory. Sort it. Inspect it. Ditch the iffy. Oust the outdated. And start assembling the best pack for the best climbing season ever! 

  • Check your draws. They shouldn’t be grooved or have any sharp spurs. If they do, get yourself some shiny new hardware. 
  • Inspect your personal anchor system. Runners and personal anchor systems should be free of fray and wear
  • Look for wear on your wearables. Are there dents in your helmet? Buckle damage or fray on the webbing of your harness? Retire and replace. 
  • Give your rope the ol’ fold-over test. Inspect your entire rope for hard and soft spots. If there’s flat spots or damage to the sheath, it’s time to trim. Once you do, know your rope’s new length. Every rope has a fall rating. Take a high-factor fall and you’ll be in the market for a new rope.
  • Clean your cams and carabiners. Actually, inspect and clean all your gear. In addition to inspecting your rope, if it’s dirty, wash it by hand in a tub with rope cleaner, not detergent. Hand-wash your harness with mild soap. And remove last year’s accumulated dirt, sand and grime from slings, cams and carabiners.
  • Get all the gear. Not sure what your gear bag should include? Check out our gear bag basics.


Rock Climbing Skills Check

So you have what you need to climb, but do you have what you need to climb? There’s more to a fun day at the crag then having all the right gear. If you’re feeling rusty or transitioning from gym-to-crag for the first — or hundredth — time, there’s a course for that! Ask yourself:

  • Do I know how to clean an anchor? Cleaning a sport anchor means removing all of your gear from it. There’s several ways to do it safely, and there’s endless ways to be sketch. Know the difference by taking an outdoor gym-to-crag class. (Link to webpage about this class)
  • Is my rope a tangled bird’s nest? That might mean you weren’t doing it right last year. Improperly clipping the draws at the anchor causes twist in your and can become a permanent problem if done continually.  Not only should the rope feed through the two anchor carabiners opposite/opposed, but those carabiners should be close together and free to swivel, but not be twisted. Whether your rope looks like a birds nest or not, go ahead and flake it every time. For more on rope management, email Jon Richard (link to email) about spring climbing classes.    
  • Fear of falling? Vertical Voyages offers a clinic that helps climbers commit to the crux and have more fun sport climbing. The clinic includes skills like fall safety, learning to rest and breath effectively, and body/mind awareness.


Why Climbers Should Spring Clean

Having the right gear and the right skills are the two most basic requirements for a safe and fun day of rock climbing. No one wants to get to the crag and realize they are missing imperative rock climbing gear. And no one wants to get to the top of a route and realize they don’t know what to do next. It happens all the time, but it doesn’t have to. Check your gear. Boot the bad. Learn the skills. Take a course. Have fun. Climb on. Send hard this season!


Anchor bolt example