Чистка держит довольно важной частью боулдеринг, но часто считает, что нужно больше всего внимания от щетинки являются те, которые находятся вне досягаемости. То Слопер вверху всегда получает cacked до право, когда вы не хотите его - к тому времени, вы получите к нему мелом покрытие, что ваши руки вышла превратилась в слой смазки ... Есть несколько средств к это затруднительное, и единственное, что не предполагает утомительно себя из, или может привести к травме от падения из соседнего дерева / проблемы, является использование щетки-на-палочке.
Многие боулдерингисты полагаются на домашнем сделал кисти палочкой, но ограничения старой ручкой швабры с зубной щеткой, приклеенный к концу, как правило, становится ясно довольно быстро. Ну, теперь вы можете бросить старую швабру ручку в рециркуляции, потому что, в первый раз, есть специально построенном альтернатива: геккон Спорт Боулдер Кисть.
This new product is designed specifically for brushing out of reach holds, rather like a beta clip stick for boulderers! Having cobbled together and used a variety of home made jobs over the years I was keen to see how the boulderbrush fared in comparison...
The boulderbrush is made of a sturdy and high quality telescopic AL 6060 pole that is continuously adjustable. This makes the whole package incredibly light and transportable, and the 170cm reach the pole gives means the majority of problems can be cleaned thoroughly. The ‘business end’ of this pole is angled to facilitate the brushing of holds of all angles – a key stumbling block that Boulderbrush many home made poles fail to accommodate. It also means it is less likely to slip out of a bouldering pad while walking to or from the rocks. The two brushes are screwed onto the pole giving a secure attachment, which also makes it easy to interchange between the large and small brush options.
The angled head and extendable shaft make the boulderbrush an excellent hold cleaning tool. In fact, during my extensive test I was able to give all kinds of holds and angles a good clean. One key advantage over my old mop handle brush is that the angled head means you can really direct the brush where you want it on the rock surface. Another advantage is the fact it doesn’t flex – giving maximum purchase and allowing pressure to be applied to the hold in question. Flimsy poles fail on this measure and can make the brushing process more of a token gesture! The fact that there are brushes on both sides allow for greater choice of angles meaning that no hold is beyond the boulderbrush’s cleaning capabilities.
Now, let’s talk bristles. All quality brush sticks need a decent set of bristles to find their way into the boulderer’s regular armoury - a stick lacking in this department is like a Rottweiler with no teeth!
The brushes supplied with the boulderbrush are all of very high quality and give a variety of brushing options. They are probably best described as a cross between the Lapis horsehair and Metolius style nylon which gives possibly the best brushing output possible. There are a mix of lengths and sizes, meaning that the small and the large - ledges, slopers through to micro edges are no match for the boulderbrush (see box for exact specification). The accessory brush is also impressive, and has occupied an unrivalled position in the pocket of my chalk bucket since its arrival. The black end is slightly firmer than the soft white end giving you the versatility for different scenarios and cleaning needs.
The brushes themselves have stood up to a fair bit of abuse over the 6 weeks I’ve been using them, and the rigors of grit, sandstone and limestone have not proved too abrasive – so I would class this is a very durable product. Despite this, some may find the price tag on the high side but considering the distinct advantages over the home made alternative I think it is worth the investment. Replacement brushes are available from Geckosport for when they do wear out so there is no need to buy the whole package again.
Overall I have been very impressed with the boudlerbrush – it has outperformed all other brushes I have used and I am hoping the extra cleaning power it delivers will give me the edge on the boulders as the autumn and winter months draw closer!
The Trangoworld Air Pad is a massive, hinged, crash pad, which uses a (currently) unique form of air cushion technology, as part of its impact protection mechanism. Here we take a closer look at how it works as well as how it stacks up to the competition.
Whilst 'air pads' are not a completely new concept they are still in their infancy, and the only established product currently available is the 'Ronin Air Pad', from Canadian pad manufacturer Flashed. Where the Trango pad differs from the Flashed offering, is the way in which the 'air cushion' is created. The Flashed pad works by utilizing a specially designed series of air chamber strips, sandwiched between two, thin hard cell foam sheets, whereas the Trango pad borrows technology directly from the self-inflating sleeping mat sector – a field in which Trango has extensive knowledge, due to years of manufacturing such products for the camping sector. Basically, the Trango pad contains a triple layer: consisting of a thick (5cm) layer of closed cell foam, on both the landing zone and ground side of the pad, which then sandwich an equally thick (6cm) sheet of self-inflating matting – the air cushion. Where the self-inflating matting differs, from say your standard Thermarest, is it has multiple valves (8 in total, 4 on each half), these are left open and expel the air when you land on the pad, and in turn re-inflate once you have stepped off the pad. The valves can also be closed when 'low balling' or traversing to create a more solid platform (over holes or dips etc.), although it is recommended they are left undone in most circumstances.
Whilst both mechanisms achieve a similar outcome, the Trango pad does win out over the Flashed product in terms of its size to weight ratio; weighing in at a similar overall weight but being considerably larger, in both surface area and depth. It is also as much as £40 cheaper, and unlike the Flashed product, does not require assembly at the point of purchase.
Flashed Ronin Air Pad: 127 x 97 x 12.5cm (weight: 9kg)
Trangoworld Air Pad: 140 x 110 x 18cm (weight: 9.5kg)
Playing devils advocate, I'd point out that the Flashed product offers a more consistent soft landing 'out-of-the-box', where as the Trango pad does take a bit of bedding in, and can feel a bit solid, and almost bouncy when new. This does get much better after a few sessions. The Flashed pad can also be packed away to a much smaller volume if required (however, practically this is not something you would want to be doing too often!). Probably one of the biggest selling points of either of these air pads is their impact protection durability and thus longevity as a primary pad.
In terms of regular features the Trangoworld Air Pad is well endowed, and offers the usual metal 'unbreakable' buckles, multiple grab handles, well padded rucksack harness, and reinforced corners. As well as these standard features, it also comes with a built in zip pouch, big enough for a pair of rock shoes, a bouldering bucket and a few other essentials, such as tape, brushes, keys etc.
Foam configuration: 2x 5cm hard cell sheets, 1x 6cm air section.
Padded rucksack harness
x4 Drag handles
x1 Suitcase handle
Metal 'unbreakable' buckles
Polymide 500D external fabric
Keprotec reinforced corners
Large zip pouch
In my view this is a good super-sized crash pad, which it well built, packed with features and incorporates an interesting impact protection mechanism, that will no doubt inspire future crash pad design. If you have the extra cash this is definitely a marked improvement over most other giant pads, and will offer improved levels of impact protection for far longer than a pad using just regular foam. My only reservation would be towards falling on it from extreme heights (5m+), as when I tested in this way I found that there simply aren't enough valves to dispel the air fast enough, and you get quite a solid, overly firm impact. That said, this is still far more preferable than bottoming out, and is something that could be improved quite simply through the addition of more or larger valves. Overall, hats off to Trangoworld for coming up with something new!
Fingerboards have come along way since the first hefty great offerings from the likes of Entre-Prises and Bendcrete. Those original old boards were often hulking, tombstones of resin with skin searing edges at highly aggressive angles, and certainly not something that anyone, bar the keenest 'cellar dweller', would aspire to use on a regular basis. In subsequent years, the development of both resin and molding technologies, as well as an advancement in the understanding of what sort of holds to include, has led to the evolution of a whole host of products. Boards offering an almost innumerable array of weird and wonderful shapes and hold configurations have been produced, often labeled with attention grabbing mantras and strap lines, attributed to an equally impressive list of top climbers who lent their names to many of the designs.
In truth, wooden fingerboards have been around for some time, and in many ways the wooden board harks back to the origination of the hangboard, with the first boards almost certainly being sheets of ply laced with a symmetrical offering of wooden edges. However, the wooden aspect of the Beastmaker fingerboard, as it would become known, is only part of what makes it perhaps the finest training aid available...
Nuts & Bolts
So what sets a Beastmaker board apart from its contemporaries? As stated, these boards are wooden, tulipwood to be precise – sadly a non indigenous hardwood tree, but famed for its strength to weight ratio, and often used in cabinet making thanks its fine blemish-free finish. Unlike some other popular wooden hangboards, which are built from a number of separate interlocked pieces, the Beastmaker is CNCd (in the UK) from a single block of wood, meaning it is both stronger and more uniform appearance. They are then hand-sanded to give them a quality rustic look. Nice. The tulipwood provides a perfect blend of tactility and strength making the boards durable and highly skin-friendly, however, it is worth noting that the smoother finish offered by the wood offers less friction than resin, so beginners may find the less positive holds harder to hang. Not only does the classy wood construction alleviate skin wear and tear, but as an added bonus it also looks much nicer in a domestic situation, and is therefore far less likely to provoke non-climbing partners/house mates... this alone has no doubt swung a few sales! The hold configuration is a masterstroke, with the compact (58x15cm) stepped design allowing for maximum use of space whilst maintaining a clearance zone when using the upper tier of smaller edges and pockets: there can be few similar sized boards with as many usable holds. The holds themselves are various in nature, with a good blend of edges, slopers and pockets, although the Beastmaker Boys' enthusiasm for pockets has certainly influenced the design brief. The thoughtful way in which the Beastmaker has been laid out and designed is testament to a retroactive approach, in that it is the culmination of numerous prototypes; altered, tweaked and evolved into the finished thoroughbred product, something which cannot be said for many of the seemingly thoughtless designs available.
Beastmaker currently offer two board designs: the 1000 and 2500. These two products offer a common sense fingerboarding option for climbers of all abilities, being essentially similar products tuned to the relevant user group. All grips are generally deeper on the 1000 and the famous 45 degree slopers, seen on the 2500, are replaced with a set of meaty jugs, whilst the monos have also been switched for duos. The 1000 is advertised as being aimed at the Font 5a to 7c (V1-V9) climber, and whilst this seems a fair appraisal, I would add that even climbers operating beyond 7c would find this board useful, particularly if it's likely to be used as part of training board session or if you have no other means of warming up. The 2500 is a serious piece of kit, and whilst if used correctly, it is undoubtedly the path to serious grip strength, may I offer a warning caveat: due to the nature of the small, shallow holds offered, it would be wise to have an alternate means of warming up, like a less serious fingerboard or some additional larger wooden or resin holds bolted/screwed to either side of your mounting board. At the very least I'd suggest having a pull-up bar to hand.
With a host of products to choose from, you may have thought that this was an exhausted market, and there was little if anything that could be brought to the design table. But as is often the case, the keen optimistic eye of youth, untarnished (unvarnished?) with aged cynicism, did indeed bring something new to the table, in fact Messrs Varian, Bowering and Feehally took that table straight to a CNC machine and made some fingerboards out of it – now that's lateral thinking! In truth, wooden fingerboards have been around for some time, and in many ways the wooden board harks back to the origination of the hangboard, with the first boards almost certainly being sheets of ply laced with a symmetrical offering of wooden edges. However, the wooden aspect of the Beastmaker fingerboard, as it would become known, is only part of what makes it perhaps the finest training aid available...
So what sets a Beastmaker board apart from its contemporaries? As stated, these boards are wooden, tulipwood to be precise – sadly a non indigenous hardwood tree, but famed for its strength to weight ratio, and often used in cabinet making thanks its fine blemish-free finish. Unlike some other popular wooden hangboards, which are built from a number of separate interlocked pieces, the Beastmaker is CNCd (in the UK) from a single block of wood, meaning it is both stronger and more uniform in appearance. They are then hand-sanded to give them a quality rustic look. Nice. The tulipwood provides a perfect blend of tactility and strength making the boards durable and highly skin-friendly, however, it is worth noting that the smoother finish offered by the wood offers less friction than resin, so beginners may find the less positive holds harder to hang. Not only does the classy wood construction alleviate skin wear and tear, but as an added bonus it also looks much nicer in a domestic situation, and is therefore far less likely to provoke non-climbing partners/house mates... this alone has no doubt swung a few sales! The hold configuration is a masterstroke, with the compact (58x15cm) stepped design allowing for maximum use of space whilst maintaining a clearance zone when using the upper tier of smaller edges and pockets: there can be few similar sized boards with as many usable holds. The holds themselves are various in nature, with a good blend of edges, slopers and pockets, although the Beastmaker Boys' enthusiasm for pockets has certainly influenced the design brief. The thoughtful way in which the Beastmaker has been laid out and designed is testament to a retroactive approach, in that it is the culmination of numerous prototypes; altered, tweaked and evolved into the finished thoroughbred product, something which cannot be said for many of the seemingly thoughtless designs available.
Beastmaker currently offer two board designs: the 1000 and 2500. These two products offer a common sense fingerboarding option for climbers of most abilities, being essentially similar products tuned to the relevant user group. All grips are generally deeper on the 1000 and the famous 45 degree slopers, seen on the 2500, are replaced with a set of meaty jugs, whilst the monos have also been switched for duos. The 1000 is advertised as being aimed at the Font 5a to 7c (V1-V9) climber, and whilst this seems a fair appraisal, I would add that even climbers operating beyond 7c would find this board useful, particularly if it's likely to be used as part of training board session or if you have no other means of warming up. The 2500 is a serious piece of kit, and whilst if used correctly, it is undoubtedly the path to serious grip strength, may I offer a warning caveat: due to the nature of the small, shallow holds offered, it would be wise to have an alternate means of warming up, like a less serious fingerboard or some additional larger wooden or resin holds bolted/screwed to either side of your mounting board. At the very least I'd suggest having a pull-up bar to hand.
With an insightful design, models catering for most ability levels, a compact size and stylish appearance, it's easy to see why the Beastmaker has become the fingerboard of choice for many climbers across the UK and beyond.
On the face of it Tendon is a fairly recent addition to the UK’s rope brand portfolio; although in truth we have seen ropes from the parent company in the recent past, in the shape of products from Czech rope manufacturer Lanex.
Having, a few years back, updated their machines and manufacturing processes – allowing for the production of a higher quality of finished article – Lanex seems to have decided (cleverly) to re-brand their dynamic ropes under the new guise of Tendon, allowing them to take another swipe at the European climbing rope market.
Having, on their last assault of the UK rope market, seemingly set their sights on the budget end of the market, Lanex/Tendon, through improved manufacturing capacity and the ability to create more usable, lightweight and super thin cords, now look to have the clout to take on the more established rope brands, whilst still being highly competitive on the price front. So far they appear to have made a good fist of it, with Dave Pickford recently remarking (in a review on UKC) of Tendon’s top-end sport offering, the Master 9.2mm: “I am convinced that it is the best superlight single rope I have used to date. It handles perfectly, being extremely supple and very easy to clip with.” High praise indeed!
At the other end of the spectrum I recently put Tendon’s budget offering, the 'Smart' 10mm, to the test on a diet of predominantly single pitch trad and a small amount of sport climbing in the Lake District, here’s what I found.
Obviously, when testing an entry-level/budget product you have to set your expectations accordingly, so when using the Tendon Smart I had in mind the likes of the Mammut 'Passion' and 'Tusk'. In fairness to the Smart, which is cheaper than the aforementioned Mammut ropes, after a couple of months of regular use on volcanic tuff, sandstone and granite in the western Lakes, it was stacking up far better than a Passion I had used on similar crags and over roughly the same timescale some years back. In fact the sheath wear on the Smart was less obvious and I’d been abseiling on the Tendon rope far more than I ever had on the Mammut product, which bodes well for good longevity. Due to the complexities in spinning the yarns and the number of bobbins required at the point of production, the main downside with cheaper ropes (from any manufacturer) is usually the handle of the product in use. Whilst I’d love to tell you the Tendon Smart bucked this trend, unfortunately it does have the familiar ungainly feel of most budget ropes and a tendency to kink at inopportune moments. In terms of stats the Smart holds its own well against most similarly priced ropes, even having a lower weight per metre than many of its peers and a similar level of UIAA fall’s held (6).
Overall, this is a great budget rope which wears well and would make a great climbing wall rope, entry-level product or be ideal for those on a tight budget. If you are an accomplished and/or very active climber then I would urge you to consider a higher spec rope; perhaps something like the Tendon 'Master' 9.7mm or 'Ambition' 10mm would be a better bet...
Sat here on a grey and rainy November day in the Lake District the thought of ice climbing on a crisp sunny day seems far removed given the present weather. None the less the winter season is more or less upon us and so I thought it might be useful to run through the pros and cons of the various ice screws that we at Rock and Run have on offer.
Probably the first thing to note is that all of the screws here can be placed quickly with one hand – this capability has transformed the way steep ice can be protected. It’s probably safe to say that the new breed of ice screw with winders or handles on has made the old style obsolete for anybody buying now, such is the difference in performance. Surprisingly, the manufacturers have come up with rather differing designs to make placements as fast as possible for us.
An important consideration that is sometimes overlooked when buying ice screws is how well they rack on your harness. Ice screws are best off racked on plastic ‘clipper’ type biners for easy access. It is far preferable to have your screws hanging neatly, pointing behind you than to be sticking out all over the place – especially if you're unfortunate enough to take to the air.
No matter how good a screw is when you buy it will be made far less effective if the teeth are blunt. This video from Black Diamond demonstrating sharpening is well worth watching before you get the files out.
This beautifully elegant piece of engineering from the folk at DMM is a bit different from the other screws here in that there are no moving parts; speedy placement is achieved only by the ergonomically shaped hanger. Once the screw has bitten the ice it is wound home by spinning the knob on the hanger in the palm of your hand. This may take a little practice to get right, but once mastered is very quick and efficient. The downside of this arrangement is that the hanger is longer than for standard designs, meaning more preparation has to be done to flatten featured ice. As with all the screws here the hanger is large enough to take 2 carabiners, which is a useful feature at belays. The tooth profile is very similar to that of the Black Diamond Express, and so predictably the initial bite is excellent. Due its clean lines the Revolution racks well, although as with all screws this is much improved if they are of the same type. A new version of the Revolution with a winder was due to be released a couple of years ago, but sadly this appears to have been scrapped (update - see comment below from Dave). All the same this is still a great piece of kit - try one out and you should be convinced.
This is a cleverly designed piece of kit with one main advantage over the competition; because all of the leverage required for placement is gained from the folding wire handle the hanger is very compact. This means that unlike the other screws here the 360 can be placed in dishes and pockets with very little cleaning. The 360 is also very easy to place and thanks to the long handle it will crank down into hard ice with relative ease. Another advantage of the folding handle is that once it is folded in the 360 is fairly compact and for my money racks better than the fixed crank Helix. Because the 360 will occasionally go in where nothing else will, it’s worth considering having one or two, even if you mainly use something else.
This is a very simple design with a fixed crank opposite the hanger. The tube is the same as for the 360 and so the initial bite is similarly excellent. As a result of its simplicity the Helix is very easy to use, and also very quick. The downside of this simple design is that the Helix is slightly bulkier to rack than most, and does not squeeze into awkward spots like the 360. However if you are purchasing ice screws for the first time then purely for ease of use the Helix would make it a great choice.
This is basically a Helix with a permanent quickdraw attached that is free to spin around the shaft. This set-up has a few advantages over standard ice screws: It reduces weight by having one less carabiner; it speeds up placement; and it also makes it much harder to drop, as the Speedy is clipped to the rope whilst placing. The obvious downside of this system is that you loose versatility – the quickdraw on the screw can’t be placed on any other bit of gear. Assuming you already own quickdraws then the cost is also clearly higher than just buying standard ice screws. In all this is probably a rather specialist piece of equipment but if you are doing a lot of pure ice climbing then it may well be worth considering. There’s a slightly bizarre video from Grivel here with Stevie Haston demonstrating them.
The Express is a classic design that looks very simple and yet works brilliantly. The hanger has been updated recently; most noticeably by the addition of a secondary clip in point for belays. The hanger is now also made out of stainless steel which won’t rust, and should not heat up as much as the old black hanger in the sun, thereby reducing melt-out (I’m not sure if anybody has ever experienced this in Scotland though!). The knob has also been made bigger, making it easier to use in thick gloves and less likely to be dropped. Less obviously the tube is now tapered so that it is wider at the tooth end than the hanger end, making the final turns quicker and easier. Thanks to the neat design the Express racks very well. Overall this screw is still one of the best and makes a great base for any winter rack.
Since the end of 2509 Rock + Run have had 2 Sterling ropes on test (we are also currently testing a Marathon Pro 10.1mm): the Velocity 9.8mm and the Duetto 8.4mm. I shall be reviewing the Velocity (all round single rope) later in this article, but first for some background info.
Sterling Ropes are already a well established brand in the USA and Europe. They are however a newcomer to the UK and it is only since the late spring that they have been available over here, distributed through Beta Climbing Designs. Sterling Ropes are based in Maine, North West USA. From their factory there they make a range of ropes for climbing, rope rescue, guiding, industrial safety, work access and OEM markets. They have been making climbing specific ropes for over 15 years and as expected they provide a range of ropes, enabling you to choose the most suitable rope for your needs.
“Sterling climbing ropes are made to perform extraordinarily well in all conditions due to our unique DryCore™ and Better Braid Technology™. These processes give you incredibly durable ropes that are smaller in diameter, lighter, and better handling, as well as dry cores, designed to keep moisture out and performance up.”
Sterling has a whole host of climbers as part of their “Athletes Team”. Surely the biggest name has to be Chris Sharma, but there are other notable climbers on their list. This includes Paul Robinson, Sonnie Trotter, Will Gadd and Nicolas Favresse. It’s these guys that are really pushing the limits of the sport, and it’s their feedback that is taken on board as their ropes are put to the test. This backing and testing ensures that the ropes that are good enough for the best are great for the rest of us as well.
A brief overview of the core range of Sterling Ropes that we currently stock (Update: Our current range can be seen here)
|Duetto (Half)||Nano (Single)||Pro (Single)||Velocity (Single)|
|Weight Per Metre||45g||53g||63g||62g|
The following are a range of technologies that are part of the Sterling rope making process:
All of Sterling’s climbing ropes have their unique DryCoreTM. This is a treatment of the core yarns which reduce moisture absorption and yarn-on-yarn abrasion. Sterling has tested ropes both with, and without their DryCore treatment and have found that ropes with DryCore maintained their strength characteristics and have less elongation than ropes without when wet.
In addition to the DryCoreTM, some of their ropes also have their own extra unique dry treatment coating. It is these Dry ropes that you would be looking at for ice, mixed and general winter use. This Arid Dry treatment protects the rope from water absorption; eliminates weight increase; risk of freezing in cold weather; and slows the wearing of the rope considerably.
This is a process where the rope is heated in a state-of-the-art conditioning chamber - this controls yarn shrinkage which affects the balance between the core and sheath yarns (ie sheath slippage). From our side of things this means that it helps keep the rope supple and dynamic. Sterling is one of only two rope manufacturers in the world who take this step.
A combination of high quality yarns, state of the art machinery and high levels of quality control are some of the aspects of this, but it really comes down to the way the ropes are created; Sterling’s ropes have plenty of twists in the yarn which creates a rope that is strong and durable, as well as moving smoothly through gear.
That’s enough of the technical spiel, now onto how I found the rope in use.
Sterling/Beta Climbing were kind enough to give us two ropes to test out, just over a year ago. They were the Duetto 8.4mm half rope, and Velocity 9.8mm single. Some of you may have already seen the preview that Andy Hyslop and I wrote back in December 2509. At that time it was the Duetto that was seeing the most use. Since then the Velocity has seen a lot more action, and most of us at Rock + Run have used it to some extent. However it was I that was lucky enough to have it for most of the year.
As soon as you un-coil Sterling’s ropes you can tell that they are going to be of high quality. After checking on Sterling’s website I was pleased to hear that in addition to the quality control checks throughout the rope making process, all of the ropes are hand checked at the end of production. This means that every metre has been run through someone’s hands to check for any irregularities before even leaving the factory, which is nice to know.
The first few times it was used, there were no signs of any kinking, and there are still no signs now. It handles amazingly; it flows with ease, and runs through gear and belay devices very well, but is not so floppy that clipping becomes an issue. Part of this is down to the smoothness of the sheath. This means that the rope runs amazingly smoothly across rock, or through your gear. It is also knots neatly and compactly for tying in and at belays etc, with no evidence of the knots slipping through.
It goes without saying that the longer routes get, the more the weight of the rope becomes an issue. This is in addition to the amount of drag that occurs on the gear. It’s the 70m version of the Velocity that I have been using, and whilst I admit to not testing its lightness out on any mega 30m+ routes, I still have to carry it up to the crag! Even on routes in the mid 20m range, pulling the rope up at the top was a breeze, and noticeably different to the 10mm Mammut that I was using before I moved onto using this Sterling rope.
Impact force is how much force is passed to the climber when a fall is stopped. A low impact force is usually best as this will provide a softer fall due to a gradual slowing as the rope catches you. The other benefit is that your runners will also receive a lesser shock (especially important on marginal trad gear, or ice)
Just roughly comparing the Velocity to some of our other similar diameter ropes you will see that the Velocity has a slightly higher impact force than many others. However I am going to say that from my actual in-flight testing, I can say that you do get smooth, soft falls, even after considerable use (the impact force goes up the more a rope is fallen on). In fact I was reasonably surprised to see these values were higher than some other manufacturers when looking at them retrospectively.
The Velocity is a great rope to belay with. It works well with most standard belay plates. It was perhaps a little slick when new and used with my Black Diamond ATC, but has been great with a higher friction belay plate. The Velocity also works well with mechanical devices such as the Trango Cinch and Petzl GriGri. I will point out that technically speaking the GriGri is for 10mm plus diameters, but the Velocity has been sound through it, even when new. It’s easy to feed out slack for the leader, but is still thick enough for the GriGri to ‘Lock’. I have also used a Trango Cinch with the rope, and this too has been fine (for more info on the Cinch I have done a review of it here).
Okay so it’s not going to be the critical factor in deciding if you want the rope or not, but the Velocity certain looks the business; they are not too boring or over the top. I will point out that it doesn’t have a middle marker which could be an issue to some, but it’s something that can be lived with.
Whilst the rope no longer has its ‘as new’ look, it still looks in good condition and I am no way near wearing this rope out. Having access to the rope for approaching a year means that I am in a good enough position to comment on the durability so far.
Purchase a Sterling Rope.
This text is aimed at the person who has done a small amount of top-rope/lead climbing at an indoor climbing wall or single-pitch crag, and is looking to purchase the basic equipment to allow them to progress as a lead climber, under the stewardship of an experienced climber or instructor.
As you peruse the pages of our website or visit a technical climbing store you soon come to realise there is a plethora of rock climbing brands and equipment to choose from, and deciding on what is required and what is a luxury purchase can, on the face of it, seem mind bogglingly complex. Rest easy - providing you have an experienced person to take you out, and guide you through the relevant skills and etiquette of the crag or climbing wall - with a little guidance it’s relatively straight forward to sort out what you do and do not require in the way of equipment.
As an entry-level rock climber it is most likely that you will have been engaging in 2 main areas of climbing: sport style climbing (i.e. leading on bolts at your local indoor wall) and single-pitch climbing on outcrops crags, with the possibility of moving into the area of multi-pitch mountain routes, once you are fully competent in single-pitch techniques.
There are well enforced European safety standards for climbing equipment manufacture and distribution – PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) standards have been a legal requirement in Europe since the 1980’s. Equipment that satisfies these ratings (all the equipment on sale on our website) will be marked with a “CE” (Conformite Europeene) stamp. This shows that the equipment conforms to all the relevant European manufacturing and safety standard legislation.
The CE stamp is the minimum rating anything we sell has attained, and many goods we retail – predominantly from DMM, Wild country and Black Diamond – have attained additional safety ratings, such as the 3-Sigma standard.
There are many different harnesses available, however when you strip away all the various design features and differing adjustment options available there are three basic connotations of harness – adjustable, semi-adjustable and Alpine.
As you would expect Alpine harnesses are designed for lightweight Alpine use and as such are not recommended for the uses referred to in this text.
Many instructional guides advise the novice climber to purchase a fully adjustable harness – a harness with adjustable waist and leg loops – proclaiming that this covers you for year-round climbing. On the face of it this is a reasonable statement, and one we would not choose to argue against. In reality as the entry-level climber is just finding their feet, and is generally interested in climbing in relative comfort while they adjust to the sport and find their niche, a semi-adjustable – a harness with adjustable waist but fixed leg loops – is more than adequate for most new climbers. On top of this you will save weight and money.
Whichever adjustment style of harness you choose the most important features are:
General Fit – The waist belt should be above your hips and the leg loops tight enough so that you can get no more than a finger’s width between your leg and the leg loop. Women can purchase female specific models, these have larger leg loops compared with the waist and a higher rise.
Gear Loops – You should be looking for a harness with no less than 4 gear loops. A harness with more than four loops should be considered a plus, as this increases your racking capacity and adds little to the overall weight of the harness.
- Check out our full Harness range.
Whilst not essential this is often a wise purchase. The most common head injuries are those caused by incidents of falling objects, such as rocks – something the potential target has little influence over.
Though there are many models of helmet available they are generally all covered under three categories:
Traditional Hard Shell
These are the basic shell and cradle style lids that have been a favourite of mountaineers and climbers for many years. Probably the best example of this is the Petzl Ecrin Rock, which is widely used as the benchmark climbing/mountaineering helmet. These are the best choice if you are going somewhere where the helmet is likely to see a lot of action as they are the most hardwearing, and the best for major impact from above. In fact if you and the helmet are likely to encounter a serious hammering there is still no better (or tougher) option than the Edelrid Ultralight Classic helmet.
New Style: EPS – Expanded Plastic Foam
One of the most remarkable developments in recent years has been the introduction of what is often referred to as the ‘cycle helmet style’ design. These helmets, an great example being the Petzl Meteor, utilise a moulded ‘expanded plastic foam’ (EPS) design which allows them to minimise weight and maximise comfort. Unlike traditional helmets these do not feature a hard shell, so the way in which the helmet deals with the impact is through the foam absorbing the force exerted on it. Although less durable, and slightly less effective than the hard shell design for penetration from above, protection is better around the sides of the helmet.
These make for excellent rock climbing helmets; the kind of thing you might put on for a day at a single pitch crag. The weight and bulk saving that this style of helmet offers is going to be really appreciated by the trad or sport climber looking for appropriate head protection.
Hybrid: The best of both worlds?
Many helmets in production nowadays take components/ideas from both of the above designs, creating perhaps the best compromise for the majority of climbers, who will expect one helmet to cover the variety of situations they may find themselves in. They are more durable than the EPS style but also lighter and more versatile than the traditional design.
- Check out our full Helmet range.
For full details on sizing rock boots check out our “Rock Shoe Sizing Guide”.
In short the entry-level climber should be looking for an all-round shoe, which offers a good level of support – preferably a lace-up or sturdy Velcro – with a close but non painful fit.
- Check out our Rock Shoe range.
If you are going to climb routes then a rope is an obvious necessity. First up, be sure to purchase a dynamic rope (stretchy and designed to take lead falls) rather than a semi-static (un-stretchy and designed for rigging, hauling and extensive abseils usage) rope.
There are numerous “standard lengths” of climbing rope available, and it is simply a case of picking the length most appropriate to your needs. For single-pitch or straightforward multi-pitch use, a 50m rope should be fine. However, if you are likely to be climbing at a big indoor climbing wall, or there is a chance you may go on a “sun rock” sport climbing holiday, then a 60m rope gives you more versatility and route options/choice. MAKE SURE you purchase a “single” rope rather that a “double” or “twin” rope, if you intend to use just one rope.
Double Ropes: Using a pair of double ropes is common place in the UK. This allows for when a route follows a more complex line, and the versatility of two ropes – for clipping into separate protection – prevents rope drag and offers the piece of mind, that if one rope is damaged (rock falls etc.) you have a backup. You can also abseil twice the distance.
For the entry-level user a “single” rope is the best bet. Indoor wall climbing, sport routes and most single-pitch climbs are easily ascended with a single rope. Also, if necessary a single rope can be paired (or doubled up on shorter pitches) to use as a double rope.
Diameter: You have the option of purchasing a single rope in diameters anywhere between 8.7mm and 11mm. The two ends (no pun intended) of the spectrum are aimed at the specialist user, i.e. elite or group use. Most climbers looking to purchase an all-round single rope will go for between a 10 and 10.5mm rope. There are pros and cons of each option: 10mm – lighter and slicker to use, but less durable. 10.5mm - heavier but will have greater longevity.
Coatings: Your final consideration is what coating or finish to go for. Whilst there are many different finishes offered the simplest way to look at them is either dry or non-dry treated. This basically means that the more treatments a rope has been subjected to, the more water and wear resistant it is. However, as these coatings and treatments involve more time and longer processes, the price of the rope will increase to reflect this. As the old saying goes: "you pays ya money, ya makes yer choice".
- Check out our full Climbing Rope range.
This term refers to the array of hardware and software, used to protect and rig a route or belay.
This includes any jamming or camming protection that has no moving parts; and is the oldest and most basic form of climbing protection. The most useful Passive Pro for the entry-level lead climber is a set (1-10) of wired nuts, such as Wild Country Rock's or DMM Wallnuts, and a selection of larger wired or roped Hex style chocks, such as the Black Diamond Hex's or Wild Country Rockcentric's.
The image, left, shows the simple jamming principals of basic "passive protection".
- Check out our full Passive Protection (Nuts&Hexes) range.
This is the link between your protection and the rope. When leading on non-fixed protection (nuts, hexes, cams etc.) a minimum of 6 to 8 quickdraws should suffice, on most pitches. A mix of lengths allows maximum versatility on route: e.g. x4-10cm x2-15cm x2-20cm.
- Check out our full Quickdraw range.
A few screwgate or locking karabiners are generally used for an extra secure fastening point on belays etc. You have the option of the standard style screw-up locking biners, or the newer twist-lock system (spring loaded locking gates). Both are safe when used correctly, and which style you opt to purchase is purely down to preference. Between 3 and 5 is generally plenty to get you started.
- Check out our full Carabiner range.
Belay Device & HMS Carabiner
There are a multitude of belay devices available and these can generally be split into two categories – manual (double slot, stitch-plate style) and semi automatic (Petzl Gri Gri 2). For all-round use, and to hone your belaying skills, it’s initially wise to go for a manual type of device, such as Wild Country VC Pro, Black Diamond ATC XP or DMM Bug. A popular device, prolifically seen at many a climbing wall, is the Black Diamond ATC. While this is similar to models previously described, it is designed for the more experienced climber, and can be a little too “slick” for those new to the sport.
In partnership with your belay device it is wise to use a HMS style biner. This larger karabiner offers easier use and optimizes the efficiency of the belay device.
- Check out our full Belay Device range and our full HMS Carabiner range.
A cheap and worthwhile purchase to ensure overly well placed gear can be removed more easily. A number of slight variances (e.g. cam extractors, inbuilt clip) exist on the same basic premise - a drilled "wand" with a hooked tip for helping to pull out jammed protection.
- Check out our full Nut Extractor range.
No one should be without a few longer slings. These are an essential aid in setting up belays and abseils, plus they are invaluable in extending clipped protection, or "runners". Most climbers would aim to accumulate at least 4 or 5 lengthier slings - e.g. x2 60cm, x2 120cm and x1 240cm.
You will notice that slings generally come in nylon and dyneema and in different diameters. Dyneema is a stronger and more abrasion resistant material than nylon, and is increasingly becoming the most popular sling material in the UK. Whilst the the narrower slings are obviously slightly less strong than their thicker counterparts, this is negligible. The main consideration, in deciding which diameter to choose, is weight against resilience to wear. We would advise that the entry-level climber chooses a compromise like 11mm.
- Check out our full Sling range.
Once considered a luxury add on, or something only experienced climbers owned, the proliferation of cheaper (often eastern European or Far Eastern in origin) cams, has now meant even those new to the sport, or on a tight budget, can add a few cams to their rack.
For those not fully sure: a spring-loaded camming device (SLCD) is yet another piece of climbing protection. It consists of three or four cams mounted on a common axle or two adjacent axles, so that pulling on the axle forces the cams to spread farther apart. The SLCD is used by pulling on a trigger-like handle to compress the cams, it is then inserted into a crack, break or pocket and the trigger is released - allowing the cams to expand. At this point the climbing rope is attached via a quickdraw or biner at the end of the stem. A forceful pull on the rope, such as that generated by a climber falling, will cause a properly placed cam to convert the pulling force along the stem of the unit into outwards pressure on the rock, generating massive amounts of friction and preventing the removal of the unit from the rock.
So in a nutshell: due to their very nature, spring-loaded camming devices, are ideal for parallel or flared cracks where "jamming" style passive protection is unusable.
If you do decide to invest in one or two cams, a good starting point is a couple of units around size 1 or 2, in the Wild Country Friend sizing scale (0.4 to 0.75 in Black Diamond Camalot's).
- Check out our full Camming Device range.
For anyone who has climbed indoors, you will soon realise that sweaty mitts can be a big problem when trying to hold grips at the limit of your ability. As you may already beware, chalk - or magnesium carbonate as it actually is - is well founded and popular means by which to alleviate this problem. Chalk is a cheap (£1 per block or £2 for a chalk ball) and a chalk bag, to carry it, can be picked up from between £5 and £12. Many climbing walls require that you use only chalk balls, as these a mesh dispensers are less messy and only release chalk when squeezed.
Our check out our full Chalk Bag range and Chalk can be purchased here.
If you require any further assistance or advise, either generally or on a specific product, don't hesitate to call or email us. Phone: +7 812 407 0517
Alternatively, we have a fine and concise range of instructional rock climbing text books available here.
The summer alpine season is upon us and if you are in the process of making final decisions about what gear to take, and what to leave behind, the chances are you are wondering what crampons to take (if any).
Image: Approaching the Dente Della Vecchia
Should your objectives be mainly rock, as opposed to long classic snow routes, you will certainly be looking to minimize any extra snow and ice gear that you might require. One way to do this would be to opt for one of the Kahtoola crampon systems and leave your Scottish winter crampons at home.
On a trip to the Val Masino area of Italy earlier this month I had the opportunity to try some Kahtoola Aluminum Crampons whilst my climbing partner took a pair of Kahtoola Micro Spikes.
Val Masino is a fantastic granite rock climbing area which has some non glacial snow approach depending on seasonal conditions. This spring many of the classic routes required some snow and ice gear to approach or descend from them. The snow was partially frozen in the morning but very soft and unstable in the afternoon. The slope angle was never more than 45’ but there was one tricky gap between the top of a long slope and the rock which caused us some problems.
Image: Micro Spikes dealing with old frozen snow.
My partner had the Micro Spikes on a pair of La Sportiva Trango boots. You could argue that this is a bit of a mismatch and that Micro Spikes would more suitable for approach shoes but he developed some ankle problems and had to opt for more supportive footwear.
Micro Spikes are tiny steel triangles arranged on a chain lattice which is in turn attached to a thick rubber band-like binding. The rubber binding fits tightly around the upper of your boots or shoes (assuming you buy the correct size). The Micro Spikes were quick to fit and secure once in place.
On unstable wet snow the tiny spikes didn’t seem to make much difference over a regular Vibram sole. However, on frozen snow the spikes offered enough purchase to make a significant difference.
Image: Micro Spikes - a neat fit.
These crampons resemble something approaching what you would normally expect in a crampon. The spikes are still relatively
short at around 10 mm and the crampon is in two parts with a leaf spring connecting bar. The webbing straps have a side
release buckle at the ankle and a ladder lock buckle for the front. Length adjustment is quickly achieved via a sprung pin. The front and back sections of the crampons slide together when not in use and pack up neatly together.
The longer points meant that these crampons did provide reasonable purchase on soft snow and acceptable grip on frozen snow as well.
Being aluminum these crampons are very light (240g lighter than the steel version), but the down side is that as soon as you touch rock the points round off very quickly. For example; stepping off snow onto a granite slab, arranging a belay and bringing up the second was enough to require re-sharpening.
Image: Kahtoola KTS Aluminum Crampons fitted to approach shoes.
You are definitely in an area of finely balanced compromise with light weight crampons. Micro Spikes may work to an acceptable level on low angled névé and I can image them working well in the California Sierra where you get iron hard banks of old snow below routes (known locally as Sun Cups). If you envisage any conditions where you might encounter soft unstable snow you would be much better opting for Aluminum Crampons. For extended trips and all day glacier travel where durability would be an issue the Kahtoola Steel Crampons would be a better bet.
Important Note: We strongly recommend the use of an ice axe with any crampons in the mountains.
In the modern era of cheap flights and multiple travel opportunities the frequent flying outdoor activist needs not only to keep his or her pack weight down for carrying purposes, but also to keep it in check with messrs O’Leary and Stelios’ latest weight restrictions.
It was with for this reason, along with my desire to reduce the necessity of using of my messy liquid fuel stove on all trips; I decided to purchase an MSR Superfly stove. That was 5 years ago – a somewhat lengthy test period, I grant you! Here’s how I got on with my lightweight cooking companion.
Why did I decide to stop using my Whisperlite, you may wonder. Well, realistically there are three good reasons for using a liquid fuel stove: a) use at altitude (above 2800m), b) use in colder climes (below -1) and c) use in locations where canistered gas is not easily accessible. If you are using your stove in situations where these scenarios are unlikely to be encountered then I would suggest you are better off having one of the many modern efficient gas stoves available. Especially when you consider that the newer mixes of gas available (such as Isobutane) will burn efficiently down to -8 degrees, and at relatively high altitudes.
The Superfly is a veritable ball of feathers compared to my old Whisperlite, and the handy piezo ignition makes for even easier and safer usage. Despite its small stature it is far more adjustable, in terms of fine tuning the burner, and also more stable than many other small gas burners available, such as the MSR Pocket Rocket or the Optimus Crux. The greatest plus point of the Superfly (and the main reason I originally chose it) is its adaptability when purchasing gas canisters. The Superfly will bolt-on to pretty much any resalable disposable gas cylinder available – a handy facet when you consider that many areas of the globe have their own preferred gas brands, many of which utilize differing valves.
Road tripping: The Superfly stove in use at around 2500m in Utah's western desert, just south of Notch Peak.
Another great feature of this stove is its efficiency. The Superfly will comfortably boil a litre of water in two to three minutes, depending on status of the gas cylinder. It is also pretty economical: I have easily made a 450g gas cylinder last 4-5 days in the Alps, cooking one or two meals a day, whilst also necking plenty of brews.
The final major plus point I’d bring to your attention is the build quality. As stated above, I have had my stove for nearly 5 years, using it for backpacking in the Lake Dirstict, numerous European climbing trips, as well as several US road trips around the Sierra Nevada, western Utah and Texan deserts and in all that time I have neither cleaned nor maintained the unit, and it’s still functioning perfectly – even the piezo igniter still works!
Aside from the obvious limitations of all gas stoves, the only real negative aspect of this stove is its height off the ground (dependent on the type of cylinder used) when in use, this can sometimes make sheltering the burner from the wind a little tricky. However this can usually be overcome with some later thinking.
The durability, workmanship and reliability of this unit have been top notch. I tend to take pretty good care of my gear, but at the same time demand a lot out of it. This unit is ideal for backpackers and frequent flying campers, looking to keep weight to a minimum, and will cook for 1-2 people in 3-season conditions. You can use it in cold conditions with the right fuel blend, providing you keep the canister insulated prior to use.
Overall a great product and excellent minimalist stove for lightweight camping and general backpacking.
These days, when virtually everything you buy seems to have been designed in the US and made in the Far East it's refreshing to come across an innovative product that is truly home grown. The clip stick is not exactly an original idea but the BetaStick takes the concept to the next level of design and functionality. The cunning head design provides a secure seat for the clipping end of virtually any quickdraw. A section of wire holds the carabiner in place and releases the gate when the stick is pulled away from whatever you are clipping.
The Beta Stick comes in 4 to 5 telescopic sections (depending on the model). You will probably be able to clip 90% of bolts with not more than 3 sections extended but for those really ridiculous first bolt placements the 4th section will give you between a 2.75 (9-foot) and 4.5m (18-foot) reach, depending on which pole you choose. The only thing to watch for is that the 4th section is a little flimsy; don't lean on it too hard! More recently Beta has added the “10 foot Technical” pole to their range. This is an avalanche probe style stick, designed to be more compact and lighter, whilst still offering a big clip reach - ideal for the globe trotting sport climber.
So, great for clipping out of reach bolts, but most climbers will find BetaStick's other feature even more useful. The twin prongs of the head have been carefully drilled at just the right angle to accept a Metolius M16 style Bouldering Brush (1 brush is included with each stick). Perfect for brushing up those out of reach holds at the crag or in the climbing wall. What's more the holes are snug enough to prevent any brush movement and alleviate the need for extra tape.
Of course we have all climbed perfectly well without the BetaStick until now. But, faced with increasingly polished starts and a less macho attitude to 'making that first clip', there is every chance that you will start to see more and more BetaStick's propped up at the bottom of sport crags or strapped to the side of bouldering mats on the way to The Plantation.