Rock climbing equipment

27 Aug 2012 17:44 - 27 Aug 2012 18:18 #55069 by ghaznavid
Ok, my over-eagerness kicks in again. I am looking at taking up rock climbing (easy stuff, no F or G grades and no rotten rock), I have done lots of research on the matter, and have an idea of the equipment I need. Before I go and throw away money on things I will never need, I thought I'd get some input from all of you climbers out there.

The context for the moment is easy climbing - Sentinel, Inner and Outer Horn, Outer Mnweni Pinnacle (just kidding on the last one :P )

It seems I need the following (to start with):
- 20m dynamic rope
- about 10 quickdraws (I am looking at a Flashed Quickdraw from mountain mail order - they say its the best value for money on the market at the moment)
- about 20 bolts of various sizes
- a bolt removal tool
- a harness
- a figure of eight (which I believe I can also use for belaying)
- a helmet
- a caribeener
- some practical experience with people who actually know what they are doing :)

Input, advice etc would be greatly appreciated :)

Ps. I plan on doing some exposed non-roped C-grades before I commit properly to climbing...
Last edit: 27 Aug 2012 18:18 by ghaznavid.

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27 Aug 2012 19:09 #55071 by Frosty Ice
Not too sure how to take this one, but guessing you are genuinely asking for info could I suggest the following firstly, read the bolting policy for the berg and chuck the bolt ideas!!! ;-)

- Firstly a few sport climbs with mates
- Secondly a few trad climbs with mates
- Thirdly deciding if this is for you and then spending $$$$

- 20m dynamic rope - 50 and 60 are standard, I would suggest twin ropes 8.5/9mm.
- about 10 quickdraws (I am looking at a Flashed Quickdraw from mountain mail order - they say its the best value for money on the market at the moment)
- about 20 bolts of various sizes - Nuts/ Hex (10 nuts/ 5 Hex)
- a bolt removal tool - Nut Scratcher
- a harness
- a figure of eight (which I believe I can also use for belaying)- Bug
- a helmet
- a caribeener

- Some grassies (Stakes)
- Climbing partner to catch you
- Some serious lessons in gear placement
- A good chat to a few of the guys who enjoy placing gear on crumbly berg rock

Having spent a large amount of time dangling off table mountain and tonquani, I must be honest and say I havent ventured onto berg rock, just seems to high risk? Friends who have climbed the sentinal etc have found it fun, but also did not enjoy the rock.

Regarding your C grade scrambling, just rem that most climbing accidents happen walking off the mountin and not on the crux.

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28 Aug 2012 05:55 #55075 by ghaznavid
I mean nuts, not bolts.

Doing the calculations on the "$$$$" is scary, 10 nuts and 5 hexes is already well past the R1 500 mark, add a helmet, 2X60m ropes and a harness and the R7 000 mark is reached without even being able to attach the rope to the rock - scary stuff :pinch: So the plan is building up slowly, maybe just get the basics and find a team of climbers to tag along with before getting nuts, hexes, rope etc.

What brands of climbing equipment are good, what types should I stay away from?

As far as harnesses go, how good is the Petzl Corax Harness?

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28 Aug 2012 06:15 #55076 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Re: Rock climbing equipment
Ghaz - I love the enthusiasm, but let me echo some of Frosty Ice's comments here.

Your first Berg climb requiring any form of trad gear / placing of anchors to abseil/belay off needs to be done with some experienced trad climbers who know what they are doing. In this case, it's unlikely that you'll need any gear yet - they'll have all the trad gear, ropes, etc. And they'll usually be able to arrange a harness/shoes/helmet to lend to you as well. In the Berg, this will apply to anything of Grade D and above as well as a lot of the exposed C-grade stuff.

Watch out with the C-grade "scrambles" as their difficulty in the Berg can vary massively. For example, the C-grade scramble on the Sentinel standard route is quite straightforward (but exposed) but I've heard of some others (like the Horns) which will require ropes for all but the most confident of climbers.

Once you've done this sort of trip and see yourself doing it regularly in the future and wanting to gain experience in order to lead trad, then you start accumulating your own gear.

Enjoy! :thumbsup:
The following user(s) said Thank You: ghaznavid

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28 Aug 2012 15:01 #55084 by ghaznavid
Just had a long chat with Cesar at Bush 'n Bundu about equipment - I see that most of their stuff is a lot cheaper than Mountain Mail Order and the usual outdoor shops. He also gave me some magazines with do's and don'ts.

His advice was that I should start with a harness, shoes, belay device (which I can apparently also use to abseil - excuse my ignorance), a closing gate caribeener and a helmet. So time to budget accordingly :) My new car may be on hold for a bit longer...

So next step is finding someone who is willing to put up with a beginner - any volunteers ;)

Noted on the C-grades issue - I would never put myself or those that I hike with in a position that I think is genuinely dangerous, well, beyond the usual dangers of the Berg (i.e. snakes etc).

There is danger in everything, even in answering the question "why did the rock climber cross the road?" A: "he didn't, he was rock climbing"...

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28 Aug 2012 15:52 #55086 by BobbyStanton
There are people in the MCSA who are climbing every weekend in KZN at places like Monteseel. Ask Cesar, he will put you in touch with them. Contact Gavin Raubenheimer as well. If you pay him money he will teach you from scratch how to climb, and which gear to buy.

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28 Aug 2012 17:42 - 29 Aug 2012 06:03 #55087 by intrepid
Good advice here so far ghaz, follow that. Build up slowly. Go with experienced people first. Many times. Climb at climbing gyms, sport-climbing (bolted) venues etc. Borrow as much gear as possible initially. Cesar is right...thats all you need to get started. Don't try and lead climb too quickly, and as Stijn pointed out, initially you climb with others that have all the gear.

So yes helmet, a locking (skrew-gate carabeener), an abseil and belay device (like a figure of 8 - these are good for beginners due to extra friction, but there are many newer devices like ATC's and Reverso's which are lighter, more efficient, don't kink the ropes etc), and shoes. Just a comment: my wife and a friend, who is new to climbing, climbed the Bell in hiking boots over Easter. They weren't leading and it wasn't at all easy for them, but it can be done.

Climbing gear is a huge topic, but just to respond to some of the other points: As Frosty picked up on..by bolts you actually mean chocks/nuts and hexes. Bolts are something very different. And you will benefit from cams too. If you thought everything was expensive so far, try building up a set of cams! Another reason not to rush it.

Gear for Berg climbing is also different from other venues. You have to weigh up what you really need and go as light as possible. I wouldnt take that many quick-draws. The pitches you are aiming for wont be that long anyway. You'll need like say 3-5 points of protection on a basic pitch (if you can even get that much in!), and say 2-3 for a stance. If its a multi-pitch then two stances at the same time, but again thats not a likely scenario for what you are aiming for. You will need and benefit more from slings with with carabeeners than quick draws.

As for rope, take longer than that, with 20m you cant even do 10m of abseiling which is not a lot at all. Often you abseil down longer than what you actually roped up for on the way up. Also, you are assuming single rope climbing, which though it has its place and is employed in the Berg, should rather be avoided in favour of double-rope climbing I think (which is not twin-rope climbing either, that again is something different). The pros and cons of these various methods is debated, and you can use either depending on your preference at the end of the day. Double-rope climbing means you clip two different ropes into different anchor points. This allows more flexibility with zig-zagging routes and reduces rope drag. It also tends to put less strain on an anchor should you fall cause the rope is thinner and because there should be less drag and side-ways pull in the system, thus reducing the chance of the anchor popping. What I have done before for climbs with short pitches, is take with one 50m trad rope (ie 8.5-9.0 mm thick), instead of the usual 2, and doubled this up and used it as a double-rope system. This saves you carrying two ropes....ropes are inconveniently heavy!!

Also you will ultimately need lots of ab-cord, which is the 6-8mm cord left behind when you abseil off. Some of the more popular routes on peaks like Bell, Pyramid and Column do have abseil bolts now, but you should always have some along. You also need stuff like prussik cords and know how and why to use them if something goes wrong.

Extensive topic, but nuff said for now.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 29 Aug 2012 06:03 by intrepid.
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29 Aug 2012 05:42 #55095 by ghaznavid
The guy in charge of rock climbing from MCSA's KZN section is teaching me on Saturday :)

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29 Aug 2012 05:49 #55096 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Re: Rock climbing equipment
Awesome stuff - I'm sure you'll love it! I have found no better sport than rock climbing as a way to constantly challenge yourself. And all to be enjoyed in the mountains of course! :thumbsup:

Forum, brace yourselves... If you thought Ghaz was obsessed with khulus, wait til he becomes familiar with climbing grades! :laugh:

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29 Aug 2012 05:57 #55097 by ghaznavid
Thanks :)

Ironic that at least 20 posts of mine on this forum will make reference to the fact that I will never take up rock climbing - I maintain that I will not do anything too difficult, but we'll see if I later have to retract that comment as well.

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