Traditional climbing requires a lead climber to place temporary anchors that the second climber removes. Typically, each climber will take turns leading and placing "pro" (a variety of chocks and cams with runners and carabiners attached). This collective gear, known as the rack, is usually arranged on a padded gear sling and carried by the leader. The rack is passed back and forth as climbers take turns leading.
What goes on a gear rack? It depends mostly on the area and the routes to be climbed. In some climbing areas the rock has tiny holes or pockets, so smaller sizes of protection are appropriate. Other areas feature "off width" cracks that need very large pieces. Most often, a climb will require a variety of sizes of protection.
What follows are examples of basic gear-racking options:
Or you might choose these additions or variations:
The amount of gear you take depends a great deal on the climb itself. Before you go, read up or ask about the routes you're planning to do. Rock climbing guidebooks frequently state the recommended chock or cam size, for example, "protection up to 2 inches." Knowing this, you can leave the unsuitable sizes of pro at home.
If you're new to leading, chances are that you'll tend to "sew up" the route, placing more pieces than an experienced climber would. You may feel more comfortable having more gear on hand as you learn to lead.
When climbers swing leads (take turns leading and following), they typically carry one gear rack and pass it back and forth at the end of each pitch or rope length. The gear needs to be easily accessible and arranged so as not to interfere with climbing. Agree with your climbing partner on a method of organization that works for both of you. And consider getting an adjustable gear sling that can be resized quickly for a larger or smaller partner.
Here are some common ways to rack, or organize, your gear:
By T.D. Wood
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Last updated: Wed Aug 01 17:12:38 PDT 2012
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