I've always been of the view that icy cracks and the time involved in placing it meant that marginal gear was rarely worth the effort in winter climbing. This meant that I saved some weight by not taking small cams, micros, really big gear and exotic pegs. However, I'm coming round to the opinion that some of the above is useful and could be the difference between getting up a route or not and perhaps more importantly, surviving.
This is partly due to reading up on things like peckers and also due to listening to the opinions of winter climbers I respect.
Obviously some of the above is route and condition specific but hit me with your recommendations, what do you swear by on a big, gnarly lead and why?
You've got more experience than me at harder grades, but I would recommend pegs, tri-cams and warthogs/terriers. I would forget about small cams and micros.
As a base line I climb VII on a very good day and my standard snowed up rock rack is:
1x Rocks 1-9
1x Wallnuts 1-9
A couple of bigger wired nuts.
4x DMM torque nuts on tape.
Cams from camalot 0.5-3
A bulldog and maybe a terrier. This year I've supplemented that with a Tomahawk 2.
Depending on rock type and conditions a selection of pegs (maybe 2x angles and a blade).
I've been at this a long time but interested to hear other opinions!
I'm not climbing at a high grade but especially in the lakes winter routes I've found the BD peckers a fantastic addition to my rack. I have small and medium.
> You've got more experience than me at harder grades, but I would recommend pegs, tri-cams and warthogs/terriers. I would forget about small cams and micros.
I was of the same opinion until Pete Macpherson said he took some micros and that's not an opinion to dismiss lightly.
Tell me more about tricams in winter.
Dave I wouldn’t counter pete’s advice but at a similar grade to you I think I’d prefer another blade or terrier than micros? Or as a variation in your rack then offsets down to the larger peanuts I think are indispensable plus BD hex 11 (bigger than the biggest torque nut and bit of a lifesaver for minimal weight)
ive even wondered in the past about big bros for horrenda-offwidths!
> plus BD hex 11 (bigger than the biggest torque nut and bit of a lifesaver for minimal weight)
That was another thing that prompted this enquiry, climbing with a good friend who wouldn't leave the big hex behind!
I thought it was specialist, he thought it had wider applications.
The big hex is a very useful bit of kit.
Your rack is very similar to mine. I take offsets instead of rocks though.
Micros sometimes. Depends on the rock. Lighter than knife blades. Easier to destroy.
Sounds about right. I would have a set of offsets as well, including 2 or 3 of the largest brassies. May be a few extra hexes. Leave the cams behind or at least take fewer of them if it's icy. Don't own a bulldog, just a terrier. However having placed my mate's bulldog twice on The Inquisition on Sunday, I'm wondering if a bulldog is missing from my life... terriers are kind of puny, though very handy sometimes!
My rack looks very similar to that. For northern corries style routes in addition I carry small cams from 00 friend (old sort) up and sometimes a hex 11. For mixed on the Ben usually fewer cams and a few more pegs (a couple of blades an angle and peckers.). For Southern Highlands more hooks and warthogs. I also carry up to 20 quick draws which sounds (and possibly is) excessive, but means I can place all the gear I can find on long mixed winter pitches and not worry about running out of them.
Bulldogs are indeed missing from your life. Surprisingly versatile. You can even use them sideways across a wide crack if suitably desperate, after which you get a really big hex...
Hooks are marginal gear, only place them when can't get anything else in.
Offsets are a valuable addition.
Am somewhat out of practice, but often found that a few micros wires (peanuts or similar) and micro cams - green and yellow aliens - added useful options without much weight on harder pitches. Found terriers also really helpful, probably more so than the bigger bulldogs - esp on west coast rock as fit any decent pick hook placement. Agree re the comment on loads of light drawers - able to lace stuff without worrying about running short. Can see the logic of the hex 11 but alway found a pain to rack - a certain dark horse of many desperate scottish winter leads though carries one as an over the shoulder sling... As an aside, conditions seem to be one of generally favouring cams (mostly dry cracks) or hexes (icy)... unfortunately rarely know which when leaving the road so end up lugging both.
I meant bulldogs when I typed warthogs. But basically terriers, pegs and tri-cams are all things I find that'll go in certain placements where nothing else will. I prefer terriers to pegs since they're so much easier to place one handed and you know that if a pick placement is good then so will the terrier be. But sometimes pegs work better instead, e.g. horizontal cracks. And when the cracks are parallel and icy then tri-cams come into their own, particularly if there's a natural edge in the crack to torque the point on and keep it better in place.
Should have said, sometimes take a few of the larger micros if pushing the grade and especially if conditions are on the dry side but don't recal placing many. Better than nothing when you do get them...
Those of you mentioning offsets what specifically do you use?
DMM, 7-11 and 2 big RP sought of things (might be HB)
DMM. Especially handy for rounded granite cracks.
I justify carrying the Hex 11 by dropping the green torque nut which I find is well covered with the 11 Wallnut and 0.75 cam, even more so if you carry a double set of the bigger sized wires. Very rarely climb a route where I don't find somewhere to bash the big hex in.
Carry some smaller Totem cams (blue and yellow) and placed my gold Dragonfly a few times this season already but rarely in real desperation whereas I place the two Totems regularly and trust them a lot more.
> Tell me more about tricams in winter.
Talk dirty to me baby
In addition to what others have mentioned my personal piece of esoterica is the small blue camp ball nut or 'slider'. It fits in parallel sided cracks about 2 to 4mm wide, basically, anywhere that my pick has just come out of and is particularly good in shallow placements. I've placed it hundreds of times in winter but I've never fallen on to it - which is just as well because I suspect that it's a one use piece of gear as far as falling off is concerned. I think the brass would deform and you'd have to really mangle it to remove.
Another Vote for the Hex 11. It’s even better if you cut the wire off and replace it with 5.5mm Dyeneema Cord. I normally don’t take it on the Ben.
BD Hexes or DMM Torque Nuts seem to cam better than wild country Rockcentrics.
I am going to add a second Red or Gold Hex in the Gorms as I often find I’ve placed them all.
I often carry a bulldog and a terrier, plus 4 pegs. Am yet to place any this season however.
Aramid 120cm slings are great for threading chockstones above your head.
I don’t bother with Tricams any more. They’re fiddly to place and remove and unstable too.
I normally carry 7 Camalots/Dragons from .3 to 3 but rack them in pairs to save space of my harness.
I would deffo add 2 number 10 nuts and an 11 to your rack. I place them loads.
I find offsets gets stuck easily, but would add the gold-blue-red-Black if I wanted extra nuts for something tricky.
12-14 draws and 50m ropes seems more than sufficient for most rocky things.
I like a bandolier for quick draws
Micro cams, bulldog/spectre and thin pins (pecker, knifeblade).
But I do climb in such a place, where the granite cracks are often dry so cams work.
I prefer the bulldog/spectre over the terrier, as they are the same thickness and I use them mainly as pins.... If I'm whacking them into turf, then I want a longer blade/pick than on the Terrier (I do howeve carry one with me, as they weight next to nothing).
As for the thin pins, well often the seam is all you get and it is often too small for even micro nuts or filled with ice & other stuff.
For the other gear, I often have a selection of nuts (some offsets) & cams upto C4 #2 or #3 and often a few stubbies (we have good thin ice).
Strangely the Needle Sports website warns that BD peckers are not to be used for winter climbing. Am I missing something here?
The wire on them is not all that robust... so banging them in & taking out can easily (partially) break it.
And the wire isn't rated for big falls anyway.
Lastly the amount of "travel" them is next to none. So even a tiny amount of ice/crux in the crack means that they are not set in stone, but said ice/crud -> not solid. Naturally the same holds true for aid, but there the amount of gear is often a lot more than on winter climbs.
Still, I'd say that I would rather place a pecker than nothing at all ;)
Tricams are amazing in winter... Highly recommended.
What do you want to know?
Micros weigh naff-all, and will get you out the poo sooner or later, even if it's just to lower off from. You'd be daft not to carry them on any route if the rock type has tiny cracks.
Protection is all about getting a placement. Offsets will go where normal nuts won't. Tricams will go where nuts and cams won't. My rock rack consists of a set of cams 0.5-3.5, set of wallnuts, set of offsets, plus my 'get out of jail' biner with a set of brass offsets, set of Imps, and the small pink, black and white tricams. If my thumb goes in a hole the pink tricam will.
On the subject of pegs / peckers - read what Andy Kirkpatrick has to say about them. Peckers seem more versatile.
I'd be reluctant to lower off RPs in summer, let alone in winter when it's often harder to see how good the placement is!
Didn't know that, thank you. That said, I place peckers when I can't get a nut in a crack. They are the last thing I'd place but sometimes nothing else will go in. The sizes and weight are tiny so adding them isn't a big issue. I don't think I'd trust them on anything too vertical or where I'd take a whipper.
This will get me in trouble with the fashion police but the ability to hammer in gear helps greatly and is not currently well catered for.
See you on the crag, I am the one in the flares with the big afro perm.
What about a sky hook, also wild country rock 12,13,14 ( or similar )
A sky hook in winter? I’d like to know if it’s ever been used!
Standard winter rock/mixed rack for most things (when I don't know what to expect):
1.5x set of wires, doubles in middle and small, with some added brass and offset alloys
1x set BD C4s up to #3, plus a couple of smaller C3s
1-4 DMM hex on wire
Terrier, Bulldog, 2x short blade pegs, 1x fat peg
The pegs are a great addition to any rack in my opinion. They get a lot of use on hard belays, and are perfect for bailing/reinforcing abseils. Anything beyond that is going to be route/crag/condition specific and might include more turf gear, ice screws, double set of C4s etc.
"A sky hook in winter? I’d like to know if it’s ever been used!"
Scottish snowed up rock climbing is basically repeated skyhooking/occasional camhooking isn't it ;). There are rumours - could see how a skyhook might work on a blind flake where nothing else would fit but not sure gaffa tape sticks that well in the cold to hold it in place...
Can't help thinking if we were having this conversation down my local how long it would take before the RSPCA arrived saying we'd been reported for animal cruelty!!!
This Winter Conditions page gives a summary of what is being climbed at the moment, what is 'in' nick and what the prospects are...