Rock Climbing Equipment

Many different kinds of equipment are used to help people climb. Rock climbers use their gear to stabilize themselves on the side of a sheer rock face, secure themselves for safety in the event that they slip and fall, and protect their body from impact if they come into hard contact with the rock.

As the number one concern when rock climbing is the possibility of a fall, the most important pieces of gear for rock climbers are their harnesses and rope systems. Modern climbing ropes are designed with a core of long twisted fibers surrounded by woven fibers. The ropes have some flexibility and elasticity, which means they are far less likely to snap under sudden tension or to cause whiplash by bringing a falling user to an instantaneous stop ‘ instead there will be a little bounce in the line to create a smoother end to the fall. Static rope is another kind of rope which does not have the same amount of give and is used for the critical connections of the belaying / anchoring system that a climber uses to stay connected to the rock face. Nylon webbing is used in some cases as well but is a completely different kind of specialized material with an amazingly high tensile strength.

The rope system that a rock climber uses is attached to a belay device ‘ a piece of gear that allows the rope to be gradually released but seizes onto the rope and prevents it from continuing to run in case of a fall. The belay device will be attached to the rock face with some kind of support or cam system to provide a point of anchor. A belay device will have an active camming device or a passive camming device. With an active camming device a user must lock off the rope with his / her brake hand and a carabiner (a kind of metal loop with a spring loaded gate, usually made from aluminum). Of course, when such a system is being used, two people are climbing together for increased safety, and the current second (the lower climber who is staying put while the other continues on) will be in charge of keeping the belaying system operational in case of a fall.

Finally, the climber is attached to the rope and the belay device using a harness. The most important thing in choosing a harness (besides making sure that it is entirely secure) is making sure that it has a good fit, as it will likely have to support much of your weight for a good amount of time. Also keep in mind that while there are different kinds of harnesses, such as chest harness and full body harnesses in addition to the traditional sit harnesses, not all of them are equally safe. Chest harnesses have been found in some cases to increase the risk of damage to the neck at the end of a drop. In addition to these pieces of equipment, rock climbers wear protective helmets and carry bags of chalk on their belt to give them a better grip. All of these kinds of gear are important for safe rock climbing!