/ Heading outdoors. What do I need to start sports climbing?

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Pete Fish - on 29 Oct 2012
We are finally going to take the plunge and head to some real rock (albeit sports climbing). There are three of us that climb together and the plan is to go to Horseshoe Quarry in November and try some of the easier routes.

Just wanted to check I had a good idea of what sort of kit we would need to buy.

We already have boots, chalk and harnesses each and a rope between us.

My shopping list so far is: 3 helmets, quickdraws and a few mailons as bail ‘biners.

Any thing else we will need (excluding general outdoors gear)?

How many quick draws will we need between the three of us?

Which are better, quickdraws where the gates point the same way or opposite? Does it depend on the route? Would it be worth getting a pack of each?

Do we need a bouldering mat for starting off? Is that overkill?

What else should I be aware of?

The end goal is to work up to trad climbing over the next year.

Thanks

Pete
davidbeynon - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish:

That sounds reasonable to me. The number of QDs you need depends on the route. 10 will suffice for most things, but you may need more for longer routes. Check the guidebooks for the areas you are going to.

I prefer extenders with gates facing the opposite way, but sometimes it makes more sens to have them going the same way. It's usually pretty easy to swap them around.

Never used a bouldering mat myself, some people won't go more than 6 inches up without one.
Cheese Monkey - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish: You can swap the biners over in QDs to have them face anyway you wish. I have all mine facing the same way, just because thats what I'm used to. Get enough to do the routes you want, guidebook should tell you the number of bolts. Consider getting a sling and locking biner to clip in at the top, makes life easier for me
1poundSOCKS - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish: A clip-stick is useful.
GridNorth - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish: It depends on the length of the route. 12 is enough for the majority of sports routes and I think the most I have ever used is 15.

It's personal preference and there are as many good reasons for one method as the other. The krabs will turn round so the way they are bought is irrelevant.

Bouldering mats are not usually used although a clip stick can be handy for high first bolts but by no means essential.

Some of the easier climbs at Horshoe are very loose.

James
alooker - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish: assuming you have the standard indoor kit of harness, shoes and belay devices you don't need much else other than quick draws. 12-15 should be more than enough (I haven't climbed at horseshoe quarry so can't say exactly for here though).

A mat is probably excessive, and you probably won't need a clip stick for starting off outdoors.

QD carabiners can always be reclipped to be same-way or opposite-way, I find it's pretty much irrelevant. I like to clip so the rope isn't running over the gate if the route traverses slightly. Also, try to always clip the same end into the bolt. If fallen on the bolts can wear the carabiner so that it has a sharp edge. Unless the damage is really bad this doesn't weaken the quickdraw in real terms, but you don't want to run your rope over the sharp edges for obvious reasons.

As someone else has said it's useful to have a sling larks footed to your harness with a locking carabiner on the end. It must be noted that this needs to be kept under tension, even with little slack on the sling a slip can create massive forces and can break the sling/damage your body.

Practice what you're going to do at the lower off on the ground before you start off.

Tie a knot in the end of your rope too, I read somewhere the majority of accidents in sport climbing are from people being lowered off the end of the rope.

Don't think that you have to 'work up' to trad climbing, as with all climbing you need to know what you're doing to be safe though.

lithos on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish:

others have covered most of it but ill add an IKEA rope bag to keep your rope tidy and clean and cost 50p and a bit of rag to clean up your boots (old towel/tshirt etc)
derryclimbs - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish:

Apart from the answers above, the only other bit of advice I would give is to know what to expect at the top of the climb and how to get down. It is usually much different than what you are used to indoors. This article gives you a good intro as to how to thread a belay and get lowered off. Enjoy your first taste of real rock!!!!

http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=265

p.s. I have no idea what the anchors are like at Horseshoe Quarry, so maybe someone else here could give you a heads up...
jimtitt - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish:
IŽd get a belay device to go with the rope:)
GrahamD - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish:

I would have 15 quickdraws, a belay plate plus HMS and a 120cm sling and screwgate. I would forget the bail out maillons - its very, very rare you need something like that and when you do you dont want to be in a position of having to screw one up (and equally a pain for the next person on the route to have to remove). In the extremely unlikely event of needing to bail, ditch a karibiner.
Simon Caldwell - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish:
> The end goal is to work up to trad climbing over the next year.
> What else should I be aware of?

That low grade English sport routes are mostly rubbish (especially the ones at Horseshoe), and high quality trad starts at a lower grade.

I'm not trying to turn this thread into yet another "trad good sport bad" rant, but just don't judge all outdoor climbing by your experiences at Horseshoe!

P.S. if you've got enough money to think about a bouldering mat, spend the money on a trad rack instead...
Chris H - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish: I would consider wearing helmets at Horseshoe and if taking a bouldering mat get the belayer to drape it over his head.
Pete Fish - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Everyone:

Thanks all, looks like some really good advice, and at least it stopped me looking like a muppet by specifying which way I wanted my quickdraws to point :-)

We already have an ikea bag for the rope, as we use it when indoors. Good shout about the cloth/towel as I never would have thought of something like that.

With the sling for clipping on at the top would you recommend a 120cm or a 60? Would a 120 put the tie on points at a clumsy working distance or is it about right?

The plan is to practice the lower off indoors (low level and then at height) over the next few weeks till we get to the point where we are completely comfortable with it (assuming the wall are cool with that).

I read through the technique in the BMC guide to going outside where you pass a looped rope though the hoop and then tie a looped figure of 8 and attach it to the harness with a carabiner, but the UKC guide has a different technique involving tying a figure 8 on the blight then untying your climbing knot to thread it through (hope that make sense) is there any pros and cons to each technique? Looks like the second UKC way would use less rope?

Thanks again

Pete


alooker - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish: I use a 60cm, I find a 120cm too long and gets in the way - it's personal preference though, indeed there are times when I find the 60 too short. Some just use quickdraws anyway.

I don't recall these articles exactly. You should know how to do it a few ways though. There are a few types of lower off and there are some that won't work with certain types of threading.

I prefer to clip in, pull up a bight of rope, tie a fig 8 on the bight and clip into my belay loop with a locking carabiner. That won't work if the loop is small though and you couldn't fit a bight of rope through for instance.

Make sure you're always tied into the rope for redundancy, and so that you can't drop it!
GrahamD - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish:

I use 120cm. If its too long I can double it up.
LukeyG - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish: Be careful with lowering off, especially once you have used some rope up threading, there are some long ass routes at horseshoe on the end slab in the lower grades(which seem solid and were fun), even with a 60m rope you dont have much left once your on the ground!
GridNorth - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish: When secured with a cows tail keep it taught and don't get into a situation whre you are likely to fall onto it.
bobmalaria - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish:

Hi,

I've climbed at horseshoe before (and would do it again)

I think you not need more than 12 Quickdraws.
Some people use 2 QD at the top for re-threading, I often use the 'cowtail', a sling attached to my harness belay loop and a screwgate to go on the ring at the top of the route.

Ideally you should practice the re-threading before you are 12m up in the air with no idea what to do. It is no rocket science though. I think I practised 50 times at home with two QDs as belay-ring dummies and following similar guidelines as in the link above.

Horseshoe can be a bit chossy (loose rock) an some parts of the crag but as far as I know no bolt ever failed. A helmet is a good idea though, especially for the belayer.

Also consider Harpur Hill (near Buxton), there a quite a few easy climbs.


lithos on 29 Oct 2012
agree about helmets. also agree with Toreador re quality of low grade vs trad.


> I read through the technique in the BMC guide to going outside where you pass a looped rope though the hoop and then tie a looped figure of 8 and attach it to the harness with a carabiner, but the UKC guide has a different technique involving tying a figure 8 on the blight then untying your climbing knot to thread it through (hope that make sense) is there any pros and cons to each technique? Looks like the second UKC way would use less rope?

* the first way mean you are never unattached form the rope, so 'feels' safer
*the second CAN mean you are (but the fo8 on bight is your new attchement,
clip it to belay loop not gear loop) and you could clip the rope to the anchor
with a qd if you like (so rope is still above you)

* 2nd it does use a bit less rope, not usually an issue (but maybe when in
spain/france) where long routes 35..40m are getting more common

BUT

* main concern is first way wont work if the anchor is small and you cannot get a
doubled rope (bight/loop) through it (and cowstails etc if a single point). 2nd way ALWAYS
will work as you only thread a single strand through.



DON'T go near this until you have your system wired on the ground.
You can practice at home till you understand the process.
get someone to show you and talk it through.
mikeyratty on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish: Some of the lower-offs at Horseshoe are rams horns, just thread the rope and lower, it's pretty obvious what to do. BUT, rememember not to use any of the lower-offs for toproping, use your own quick draws for that, then thread the lower-off when you have finished (saves wearing out the fixed gear).
BoulderyDave - on 29 Oct 2012
In reply to Pete Fish: Get a copy of 'Sports Climbing+' it is an excellent guide to everything you need to know to climb at a sports venue. It even has good advice for getting down with all your QDs if you don't make it to the top.

When you want to do trad get 'Trad+'

We have only been climbing for 14 months and learned loads through these two books.

TonyB - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Pete Fish:

Be very careful with maillons as bail biners. They are meant to be tightened with a wrench. If not properly tightened or orientated the smaller ones can unscrew when lowering. These have a pitiful gate open strength. I've seen one ground fall where someone was lowering off an inadequate maillon that opened.

If you aren't bailing regularly and want something just in case, I would consider the cheapest screwgate that you can find.
ripper - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to bobmalaria:
> (In reply to Pete Fish)
>
> >
>>
> Also consider Harpur Hill (near Buxton), there a quite a few easy climbs.

Harpur can be loose too, there have been accidents and near-misses with large blocks being pulled off

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