The generic clipstick has its origins in the world of aid climbing where blank or difficult sections of a pitch could be passed - hence the sometimes used name 'cheat stick' - by clipping a distant bit of gear and yarding up the rope. Since the inception of sport climbing the clipstick has been adapted to be used predominantly for clipping the initial bolt or bolts with a quickdraw and rope in order to protect the first moves of the pitch. Latterly some clipsticks have been further modified to facilitate the brushing of out-of-reach holds on boulder problems.
The Beta Climbing Designs Compact Beta Stick is the small sibling of its larger relatives that have been around for sometime now and was reviewed on UKC back in 2003. Since then the Beta Stick has become the most popular choice of clipstick to be found at UK sport and bouldering venues.
At first glance it would appear that not a lot has changed since its first outing in the early naughties – a tribute to the initial design – however subtle additions and modification has rendered the Beta Stick an even more desirable piece of kit. Central to the Beta Sticks operation is the head that allows three functions to be performed.
Diagrams to illustrate the Clip Stick functions are at the foot of this review.
1) The clipping of a karabiner/quickdraw into a bolt (or other piece of fixed gear) see diagram 1 below.
2) The clipping of the rope into a karabiner/quickdraw see diagram 2.
3) The cleaning of holds with a brush see diagram 3. The brush supplied is the M16 Bouldering Brush and can be held in place for carrying by a small rubber band located on the main stem of the stick.
All of the above functions are easily undertaken and the design and longevity of the head are well proven. HOWEVER just be aware that although the head works with both wire and solid gate karabiners, it is well worth checking that the ones you own fit the head, as a number of less conventional/modern shaped karabiners do not sit correctly in the head.
"...The Compact Beta Stick will fit easily into a travel tote..."
What has changed with regard to the compact version of the Beta Stick is 'as it says on the tin' is its length – both in its packed-up state and fully extended state. At 70cm packed-up it is approx 14cm shorter that the standard Beta Stick. Its packed length is such that it can be easily slotted into a rucksack without a vast amount looming overhead and perhaps more importantly will fit easily into a travel tote when being transported (see below).
Fully extended the compact Beta Stick is 2.75m in length – half that of the Extra Long Beta Stick. This maybe significant at some venues (mainly in the UK), however on the trips away to both home and foreign spots over the last year I have only failed to be able to clip the first bolt once using the compact version.
A second notable change is the rubber handle and rotatable clip that allows for a better grip whilst clipping or brushing and gives more flexibility when attaching the Beta Stick to the harness when yarding up on the rope to get to the next bolt.
Finally the last extendable section (of 6 sections) nearest the head is coloured red and denotes that this is the most fragile section of the stick and should only be used with great care especially when using the brush.
The Beta Stick Compact is an excellent piece of kit that has been refined to provide a good compromise between packed-up overall length for easy transportation and useable length out on the crag or boulders. Just check that your karabiners work with it.
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