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Terry James Walker

The Necessary Equipment for Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing Rack and Equipment

The gear that's needed to get into rock climbing, progressing with the sport, and what you'll need once you're obsessed. Here lies the answers and information to the FAQs I get before, during and after my courses.

Starting Out
The basic equipment required for one of my rock climbing courses is: a harness, a helmet and a pair of rock shoes. Though, I can provide all of these when needed. Buying your own is the first step to getting properly into the sport, and starting to become self sufficient after the course to go out climbing with your friends. Before buying it's worth trying out a few pairs of shoes and different harnesses at your local indoor wall, if my course is your very first exposure to climbing, then wait until afterwards to have an idea of what best to buy.

Outdoor Bouldering
An old hand towel, bouldering mat and guidebook is all that's required to have a really good time.

Being a competent belayer/second
Once you feel confident belaying and moving on the rock, the main progression in Trad Climbing is to start following/seconding lead climbers up the route after them, taking out their protection as you go. The only extra things you might need for this, that I would recommend are: DMM Dyneema Sling 120cm x 11mm, a few locking/Screwgate Carabiners such as the DMM Aero HMS or Sentinal and maybe a couple of DMM Shadows, 2 x prusik cords. For the prusiks I would recommend a 6mm cord that's about 120cm long, tied in a double fisherman's knot to secure a loop. Shop assistants in retailers such as Joe Brown's and V12 Outdoor can offer good advise on this when buying and even help you tie the knot should you need it.

Sport Lead Climbing Gear
If moving into sport climbing (bolt clipping), then along with the above equipment, you'd need a set of quickdraws, and a single rope, a single rope is designed to be used as just one rope and is usually between 9.5mm and 11mm, where as it's normal to use 2 half ropes in a trad environment (8mm - 9.5mm). For sport climbing I would highly recommend getting a telescopic clipstick to help safely clip the first bolt and get you up climbs that may be above you're ability so that you can practice the harder routes and moves.

Trad Lead Climbing
This is where you start to enter the big complicated world of buying a trad rack. And what's on this list could be argued endlessly by just about every armchair climber in the world. I'll just crack on with a list that I think works: 1 set DMM Wallnuts or Wild Country Rocks (Sizes 1-11 ish), a 240cm and another 120cm dyneema sling, 3 or 4 cams (sizes 0.5, 1.5, 2.5 for instance), about 12 quickdraws (some of which could be 60cm x 8mm slings with a carabiner each end, tidily clipped to fit nicely on your harness). 2 x 50m half ropes.
And that's about all you need, should you have a regular climbing partner it's easy to share the purchasing of this stuff and hence share the price. There are a few things not on this list, such as Hexes/Torque Nuts, because I think people out grow them very quickly and just wish they'd bought cams in the first place.

Trad Progression
Once climbing for a while, and moving onto bigger climbs there is usually a requirement for more protection or doubling up on certain pieces, I would recommend: Another full set of Nuts, offset nuts, and possibly micro nuts if you're climbing on certain rock types like slate. Lots more 120 slings if you're climbing big sea cliffs. Double or tripling up on cams if you're climbing granite on Skye or in the Alps. Revolver carabiners to go on your 60cm extender quickdraws to reduce drag if you're into multipitch mountain routes. Specialist kit that replaces the prusiks, such as a ropeman mk2, are also useful if you're seconding stronger climbers than you on overhanging traversing sea cliffs! If indulging in lots of sport climbing I'd recommend getting a GriGri 2 and learning how to use it properly.