Help Me Build Out UK Trad Rack - South & SW England, Wales, Cornwall

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 jaredk 09 Jan 2022


I'm hoping to get some advice on what gear to pick up to fill out my rack, and where I can get some nuts reslung with wire. 

It's been a few years since I've properly been trad climbing. But I learned out at Index, Washington, on that wonderful wonderful granite, and then across the Cascades at Icicle Creek Canyon, and around the Cascades in general. 

I always climbed with people who were FAR more experienced than me, and so while I learned a lot, I didn't learn enough. So, I'm hoping to build up my trad rack, and find some experienced trad climbers who'd like to take me out and shove me (and my partner) on the sharp end. 

We're based out of SW London, often go to Portland & Swanage, but we're wanting to start hitting up the Fairy Quarry, Wye Valley, Cornwall, S & N Wales, and eventually get up into the Peak & Lake Districts.

I have the 4 standard sized hexes, and a set of nuts, and one old stiff #1 BD Cam that also needs reslung.

P.S. Also hoping to go climbing at Lundy, so if need other gear for that compared to other destinations, please include a note about that.

In reply to jaredk:

This will vary depending on the grades your hoping to do, and everyone will have a different take on this.

However in the South West, then you can't go far wrong with:

If Limestone then I would double up on nuts 1-6. Assuming you current set are sizes 1-10.

Cam wise, I would start with (modern) Silver, Red, Yellow, then add a micro blue. But eventually you will want a full set, ideally with extendable slings

2 x shoulder slings, 1x 120cm

8-10 x 18 or 25cm quickdraws, no short ones.

2 x alpine quckdraws

Post edited at 13:27
In reply to jaredk:

Pretty much what Steve said. In the Wye valley you'll always run out of wires 3,4,5 but it's normally fine with singles of everything else. Cornwall will eat the big wires or small hexes. N Wales loves medium wires but you'll be running longer pitches so take more of everything. Peak is all about the cams. Fairy cave... micro wires and a good religion? Not sure what the cam colours correspond to but get finger, hand and fist sizes and fill in later in order of what you feel you're missing most.

 PaulJepson 09 Jan 2022
In reply to jaredk:

My first addition to what you already have would be a set of dmm alloy offsets. Great in limestone and gold dust on cornish granite. 

For cams I would start with purple, green, red and yellow (adding grey and big blue when you get round to it). You won't place loads in the compact limestone round these parts but theyre occasionally great to have in horizontal breaks. They're very good in granite and sandstone/grit. 

In reply to Steve Claw:

dont forget atleast 1x HMS Screwgate plus 3-4 other smaller ones

In reply to Paul Hy:

regarding getting stuff reslung/rewired dont bother! although for future info DMM do a service on their Cams for £12.

 jaredk 10 Jan 2022

Hey all! Thanks so much for the advice!

Gonna pick up a set of offset alloys (before doubling on nuts, seemed prudent to get similar size of different utility), restock on the locking biners and get a few more slings.

Then I think it'll be slow going getting cams haha, damn suckers are so expensive. Gonna have to keep an eye on the FS posts haha

Cheers all!

P.S. We're leading on sport around 6c/6c+, and are hoping to progress into 7s this year, and so we'd like to push ourselves with trad as well. But in the beginning it will just be about getting the pitches in, keeping it relatively easy, and drilling in our techniques.

 GrahamD 10 Jan 2022
In reply to PaulJepson:

I'd have to disagree about offsets.  I don't know anyone else who thinks they're needed - especially ahead of more wires and a reasonable selection of cams.

In reply to GrahamD:

Ooo you laid down a bold statement there... I now climb exclusively on WC superlights and superlight offsets, with my microwires  being Metolius Astronuts. Ie every single wire I climb with is a type of offset... find they will go where nothing else will, prefer them to the DMMs and I don't sacrifice a standard placement because they have one of each... 

In reply to jaredk:

If you come to Fairy Cave Quarry I'd be more than happy to show you around. It's my local.

In reply to jaredk:

Seconding all the comments on offsets. I'd recommend a full set (e.g. WC superlights + superlight offsets / DMM halfnuts)

Tricams are pretty handy on quarried limestone, although diminishing returns compared to cams as the sizes get bigger.

 PaulJepson 11 Jan 2022
In reply to GrahamD:

Madness! Your offsets essentially are another set of wires, in addition to offering more placement options.

Cams are great but you'll be lucky if you place one on a limestone climb in the southwest. 

As for cornish granite, does a uniform crack even exist on it? Every placement is an offset in my head, and a rattly regular nut can be a bomber offset. 

Wc superlight offsets are a bit of a different beast as their taper is less aggressive and they fit closer to a regular nut (especially side-on). I've got in to carrying them as my main and only set of nuts when climbing South Wales sandstone where it's mostly cams with an odd nut. 

Considering you can get a set of offsets for the same price as a single cam, can you really say you'd rather buy a single cam first? 

 PaulJepson 11 Jan 2022
In reply to rowanbrandreth:

I was tempted to mention tricams also but we don't want to weird the OP out too soon! Keep cool, keep cool. 

Pink and red will always be on my limestone rack. 

 GrahamD 11 Jan 2022
In reply to PaulJepson:

You are talking to someone who's first gear was two cams (admittedly because they complimented my mates rack).

Point being there is no one size fits all rack.  People I know are happy with old school WC wires and wallnuts.  I have some small (old) offset wires I hardly ever use because (personally) I don't trust the tapered placements.

As for cams, Cornish granite abounds with placements.  Admittedly SW limestone less so.

 PaulJepson 11 Jan 2022
In reply to GrahamD:

I would agree that cams are ultimately an essential part of a trad rack. I can't think of an area or climb where they wouldn't be on my harness. In my original post they are next on the list. 

However, if someone starting out already had a set of standard nuts and a set of hexes and asked 'what next?', I can't think of an area where the answer wouldn't be offsets. That's why the starter packs from DMM are nuts, hexes and offsets. They're the bread and butter and will remain on your rack forever (with the exception of hexes, which on some rock types you'll switch out for cams. A lot of climbs in the Wye Valley will eat hexes for breakfast though, so I'd still carry them at Wyndcliff and Fly Wall). Nearly all placements are tapered in one way or another though and one thing which dictates holding power is contact area. Offsets aren't reserved exclusively for sketchy flared placements, though I'd sooner bosh an offset in one than a standard nut if that was my only option. 

It depends how much money you want to spend at the end of the day. If you want to get the most out of your trips (especially on granite and grit) then definitely add cams sooner rather than later. 

In reply to PaulJepson:

> Madness! Your offsets essentially are another set of wires, in addition to offering more placement options.

> Cams are great but you'll be lucky if you place one on a limestone climb in the southwest. 

Madness! Lucky to place one on a limestone climb in the southwest? Your first statement on Offsets I totally agree with, this one, you must have been smoking something strong...

 lieraza 11 Jan 2022
In reply to beardy mike:

Ahem, one can place cams in limestone, but they must be Totems.

In reply to lieraza:

I must have been doing it all wrong since 1996 then. I stand corrected.

 PaulJepson 11 Jan 2022
In reply to beardy mike:

Nevermind Mike, everyone has to learn at some point. 

Post edited at 22:10
In reply to PaulJepson:

I will immediately go out and buy a full rack of totems and some of the good stuff.

 GrahamD 12 Jan 2022
In reply to beardy mike:

> I will immediately go out and buy a full rack of totems and some of the good stuff.

All you're really doing here is demonstrating how personal the details of your rack are.

To the OP - if you can possibly climb (lead) with someone who has a rack a couple of times and see what does and doesn't work for you, much the better.   It's not necessary to 'build' your rack in one shop visit either.  Most people's racks grow and evolve over time.

In reply to GrahamD:

Absolutely - suggesting you'd be lucky to use a cam on Limestone, or that they have to be a particular brand is just as preposterous as saying offsets aren't necessary - it's what you the individual feels comfortable with. I love offsets - they are the type of placement I make probably 50% of the time on Limestone around Bristol. And I also love cams, even on Limestone despite being told regularly on here "yer gunna die!!!". If you know how to place them well on limestone they are just as secure as a secure nut. The solution is for the OP to climb with really experienced climbers if possible and get them to talk about how they make placements, detailing what makes for a solid placement, how they get more marginal placements to be more secure and how to strategically place gear to maximise your protection. 

Post edited at 09:35
 CurlyStevo 12 Jan 2022
In reply to GrahamD:

flared placements can still be as bomber as non flared. For starters the placement can flair inwards

Also depending on the geometry even if it flairs out it may still be a bomber nut (ie can only fail due to rock failure or being lifted up and out). I agree some flared placements can also be more susceptible to being pulled out with a horizontal (and down) component to the force (than say a uniform tapering non flared crack which doesn't flare towards the front / back of the crack with a normal nut) . Sometimes the more marginal placements are all there is so they are a potential life saver, other times there is often a bomber offset placement close by.

Post edited at 10:22
 GrahamD 12 Jan 2022
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> flared placements can still be as bomber as non flared. For starters the placement can flair inwards

It's not really about what 'is'. It's about what you trust.

 PaulJepson 12 Jan 2022
In reply to GrahamD:

Not if you fall on it it isn't! I'd take a placement I didn't trust but holds any day. 

 GrahamD 12 Jan 2022
In reply to PaulJepson:

Well yes, but many times there are options as to how to make a route safe and you tend to choose the way you trust most.

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