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Hey moderators,


How about a new Forum on "Tips and Tricks"? This single post clearly has a lot of interest. We climbers have lot of tips to share. There are a few gems in this post, but they are buried under all the others. Good tips would be easier too find if they were seperated more by topic, in a separate forum.


Whaddya say?

I second that!
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I've actually written 70 pages on a yet-to-be finished book on training, injuries/rehab, equipment, and tips for alpine climbing.


It will be about 100 pages when I'm done I think. It's already 15 megabites, and tips or tricks on how I could upload it here when I'm done?

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I've actually written 70 pages on a yet-to-be finished book on training, injuries/rehab, equipment, and tips for alpine climbing.


It will be about 100 pages when I'm done I think. It's already 15 megabites, and tips or tricks on how I could upload it here when I'm done?

"How to Be the Kwisatz Haderach" by Mentat Mike Layton

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in case nobody has seen this:


The Trad ClimberÂ’s Bag of Tricks (organised into theme sections) thread from rockclimbing.com's trad forum http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=898078#898078


sorry, no attributions.


Planning the day/efficiency:



When cleaning a pitch fast, sometimes you will have to stop and catch your breath. When you do, use that time to organize the (over-the-shoulder gear sling) rack for the next lead. At changeover, Whichever rack has the most gear becomes the new lead rack. the other pieces are quickly transferred (already being sorted and organized) and you are off and leading before you can say "Hand me a power bar, wouldja?"


take a poop before you tie in


do everything while belaying (eat, drink, piss)-- get a Reverso, so you can hands-free. Finish the pitch, build the belay, start bringing your partner up, THEN deal with the jacket/water/piss/eat etc. this makes a HUGE difference for time.


Speed is your friend. Saving 10 minutes/pitch can mean the difference between a nice long day out and a scary epic.


Block lead. Each person leads 2-5 pitches at a time. This saves a lot of time with gear etc transfers, and gives each person more of a mental rest-- you have a long stretch of time where you aren't dealing with any lead stress, and the leader gets (and stays) in the lead zone.


Learn to simulclimb! you can cut your time by 60% on moderate pitches. the leader climbs and installs gear; after 30 m he installs an equalised piece with a petzl ti-bloc on it. the second is not tied in but rather uses a gri-gri through which the rope runs. if the second takes, the grigri grabs him/her and the tibloc piece takes the weight so the leader doesn't get pulled off. when the second gets to the ti-block, s/he yells at the leader, who then installs another. this works INCREDIBLY WELL. NOTE-- this is an ADVANCED technique and is not as safe as regular pitching-it-out. Learn more about this before you try it (there's a book called Climb On: Skills for More Efficient Climbing by Hans Florine and Bill Wright that discusses the system in detail), and some suggest using a Cinch instead of ti-bloc.


Also, I always have a sling clipped to the pack. This makes it really easy to swap it during belay stances, and if you end up in a chimney or tight spot, you can drop it so it hangs from your belay loop. A double length sling will make it so it hangs just out of reach of your feet, so it is out of the way.


Learn how to prussik, If you intend on climbing for the rest of your life, I guarantee, it will get you out of a jam or two. Replacing your chalk bag belt with a length of 6 mm cord will ensure you always have something to use (in dire emergency, shoelaces work as well). Remember to tie in short, i.e. tie knots in the rope intermittently and clip into them.


For long back country routes make a photo copy of the route topo and laminate it in clear packing tape and put it in the pocket of your chalkbag or pack. It spares you the weight of a guide book and is virtually indestructable.


After getting stuck as the second behind a much better climber on a route that was at my personal limit, the lead hauled me up twice(10 inches each time) using the Z pulley. That was a nice trick to know as a lead. (Always carry one tibloc and a Reverso-- with this, anybody can jug, or z-pull a second).


Don't be afraid to grab gear and french a bit on long rt's if you are haveing a hard time figureing somthing out. I really hate freezeing my arse off and running out of daylight because my partner diccked arround and wasted 45 min trying to free a move on the 11th pitch of somthing


rope management is the key to speed. learn to flake your ropes correctly and efficiently. take the time to set everything up and double (and triple) check it before you bring your second up. make sure that when your partner gets to belay, you're ready to go again or he is, depending on whos leading next....


When you are butterflying loops of rope over your waist tie at a multi pitch belay, make the loops of rope progressively smaller so they don't catch on the lower loops when you are feeding the rope out.


Its easier and more enjoyable to do things in fewer pitches. Bring enough long slings and gear. You will save probably 20-30 min by runnign two pitches together instead of doing them two at a time.


For endurance. As Peter Croft put it, "the thumbs-up/out handjam is the Volvo station wagon of crack climbing." ALso, place gear at your waist where possible, as this will significantly cut down on how tired or pumped your arms get.





you can use your gear sling as a runner when you get desperate.


Karl Baba showed me a trick with these slings: double the sling, (wrap around the carabiner spine such that the sling forms 2 loops) then give the sling about 5 or 6 twists, then clip the end loop into the carabiner. The result is a compact package that can be clipped to harness or gear sling, takes about as much room as a screamer. to use, unclip one end, shake, and use. Thanks Karlee!


Also, I use wired stoppers for impromptu-to quick draws, just need to slide up the nut.


Having some over the shoulder single and double length runners made from Gemini and spectra cord is real useful. The stiffer cord is easy to poke around chockstones, behind things and stays in place when tieing off flakes etc. You can also go totaly retro and jam the knot also.


The best one I've heard lately involved carrying a 48" sling utilizing a biner clipped through the ends. That way, when you grab for a long sling - you can pull it off with out pulling over your head and without getting caught up in your other slings. Simply unhook the biner and pull - it comes right out.


I learned how to carry long draws (24 inch slings) in a easy fashion: you clip two biners, then you pass one of them through the other one, then you clip the two strands of sling that are attached to the first biner. That way you have a draw 1/3 of it's real length. when you wan to clip it a piece of pro, just take out the biner and clip only one of the strans and pull.


Belays and Belaying


Another trick is always clove hitch in as soon as arriving at the end of a pitch. then build your anchor separate from the hitch, I often set teh first piece of gear for my second if we are swapping leads, so I can tie him/her off without crowding the anchor. It also makes a good directional for teh belay (make sure it is bomber).


I run my daisy between my legs and clip it to the back of my harness. DOesn't create the clutter that running it arount the side does.


those chairs/saddles/little hamocks (I really have no idea how it's called in english) [it's called a BUTT BAG] you use while belaying the second: GET ONE, your kidneys will thank you.


A lot of climbers get locked into using only one technique for anchors. That can waste a lot of time complicate things, and result in a less than ideal anchor. I'll use everything from a loop in the climbing rope thrown around/under a bomber block or clipped back around a large tree to a cordelet and complicated anchor setup, depending.


True non-directional equalization almost never happens, (except at bolted anchors) and usually defeats non extensibility at least to some extent. You have to decide in each case what's most important and set your anchor up accordingly.


Number one rule though is that the anchor be tied in to the harness thru the climbing rope only.


The "funkness device" is a simple but effective aid cleaning tool. 2'-3' of steel cable with an eye swaged on each end. One end is clipped to the piece and the other to the hammer. A couple of swats will either remove or destroy the most stubborn fixed gear.) If you used an equivalent length of climbing rope the same way its' elasticity would make it pretty useless.


If you tie in with a non energy absorbing sling/daisy, allow a foot or two of slack to accumulate, and slip or get jerked onto the anchors by a fall, you've effectively applied a funkness device to your anchor, your 100+ lb. body replacing the 1lb. hammer. (that's why the pockets on most aid daises are designed to blow out at around 500lb.)






With nuts, take a random mixture of big, medium and small, and place these otn to TWO bieners. If you drop one, you still have a good mix of nuts on the other biener (thanks, Brian Spear).


I rack on ovals, especially stoppers. They slide around easier so i can geto to the one i want. I also have all my gear marked the same way -- tape on the spine, at the same point as the gate opening. This way I can feel where the gate is from the spine.


I use asymetric D.s for racking all my gear (especially stoppers). With a D, you can tell by feel, which side the gate is on. With an asymetric D, you can tell which end the gate will open.


Something else you can do with a 48" sling is make an improvised chest harness with it. Throw an X in the middle, put an arm through each loop and lift the X over your head and onto your back. Now you have two gear slings, one on each side, and you can pull all the slack into one side or the other to eyeball size for a placement.


In addition you can just clip the two loops together in front of your chest, run the rope through and take a comfortable rest while jugging....really saves the abs. In fact, when combined with two ascenders or prussiks it's comfortable enough to sleep in. Back it all up before you start to drift off though.


1) On hard leads where I'll be carrying a lot of gear - the worst thing in the world is to have the biner flipped the wrong way so you struggle to take it off the gear sling. Buy some petzl strings and put them on your cams - bingo - gates always facing the right way!

2) Rack nuts on Oval Keylocks (KONG) - you can hold a whole set of em on one biner

3) Hard to do these days but my budy used to buy anodized carabiners that matched his cam colors - red for the # camalot, yellow etc. This was an awesome setup.


I like racking all my wired gear on keyless biners. I have some old Bonatti death gates that I use for that.


I buy all my runners in the same color for any given length. In other words, all my singles are Purple, all my 1.5's are blue, and all my double length runners are red. Makes it much easier to grab the one I want when reaching for the right size....


when carrying a double rack on a shoulder sling, clip your doubled up piece biner into the biner of the first piece instead of the gear sling.


I used to put more than one cam on a carabiner. Now I've learned that I should rack them on their own, so that if a route is hard and or straight I can clip it instantly after it is placed.


I carry my pro on a gear sling, and I turn aroud the biners so that the gate faces out and down. that way is much easier to get a specific nut, or hex, without taking out the whole biner.


take almost everything on your gearsling, and leave only the locking biners and belay artifacts on the harness...you won't feel like your pants are being pulled down.



Nut tools:


When seconding, I clip my nut tool to a short piece of phone cord that I've permanently attached to one of my gear loops, and then clip the biner into the gear loop. When I'm not using it, the phone cord assumes its natural "twisty" shape, and takes up almost no space. And when I need the tool, I just unclip the biner from the gear loop and the phone cord stretches out to it's full length. Because the tool is always tethered to my harness, I don't have to worry about dropping it.


nut tool- use a short piece of shock cord instead of accessory cord. just stretch a piece out to arms length, and then cut it off. secure it to a small accessory biner and the nut tool. clip to harness.


I put a leash with a slip knot in it on my nut tool, and tighten the slip knot aroudn my wrist when I'm seconding and htere are a lot of things to remove wiht the nut tool. That way, I can climb with the nut tool out of the way, but all I have to do is snap it up into my hand when I need it.


Or, you could just clip the leash to the rope while you second, and it will always be out of the way, never catch your hand, and ensure you don't drop it. Wonderful stuff.


I keep a length (6"+/-) of heavy guage wire (like electricions use). Twist tight around the tip of your rope and make a hook on the end. walla, instant booty hook. Now you can fish out dropped gear or booty from cracks and hard to reach areas.



Placing/Removing Gear


When starting a pitch, if you have the choice between a nut placement and a cam, use the nut. They are fiddlier than cams, and slower to put in. WHen youa re pumped and freaking on lead higher up, you would rather stuff ina quick cam the mess with a nut.


Place gear so that your height-challenged second will be able to pluck it from the same stance you placed it from. Also avoid stuffing gear in wide parts of an otherwise thin crack, as you just filled your bomber foot jam with metal and made the route harder...


Put a screamer on pieces where a failure results in nastiness. I carry one screamer and usually use it on the 2nd piece off the ground or 1st piece off the belay.


For a runout crux put in two pieces, equalize DYNMAICALLY. Having a mini-anchor below is great for the confidence factor.


When in doubt, run it out! You are better off going 10 feet further to a good rest than freaking out on marginal holds, stuffing in (crappy) fear gear.


you can create a booty hook by placing a biner on a sling and securing the gate open with extra tape or even some from your hands. (Biner gate opening faces down of course).


Nuts can be stacked when you are low on pro, especially in a taper. You can use your nut wires as runners, too. Just move the nut at the head down the wire to put a biner on. I read that tip years ago and it came in very handy once.


Also while seconding and I'm trying to remove a welded nut or hex if I can slide the cord/wire out of the top of the wedge or hex I then clip in a biner with a sling attached and presto a makeshift funkness device. Afterwhich you must closely inspect the wires for any fraying.


downclimb back to rests or even the ground...I've done it as much as 20' or so, placing several pieces and retreating for a good rest...it doesn't invalidate your ultimate send.


When seconding, I carry a #8 Rockcentric on the same 'biner as my nut tool. That way, the moment any problems arise with a stuck nut, I can use the hex as a hammer. If we're trading leads — and each have our own nut tool — then the #8 can be used if required. Granted, it's the only hex I use.


While you're placing a piece of gear always look for your next placement before you start climbing again.

Reason being:

-your usally at good stance to take a look around

-you can mentally prepare yourself for a long runout instead of panicing and wasting energy looking for pro then continuing on

-may help you stay on route and not wander

-you can put the piece of gear for the next placemant on the correct side of your harness if in entering a chimney or something

-you wont have to climb, take a look around, climb, take a look around, it will help you climb smoother

-If you next placement is 4m up or 20m up atleast you have a goal, If you come across a placement that you could not see and it suits you better, use it

-so basically your climbing from piece to piece which helps break up the pitch, and it may make a difficult pitch seem easier for some people


You should also be able to tell what piece of gear will work just from looking or at least by sticking your finger(s) in the crack or whatever it maybe. This will hep you climb quicker, SPEED IS YOUR FRIEND.


Don't pass up a bomber placement. It almost always saves time if you get a good placement from a good stance rather than fiddle with gear in the middle of a move. Even though you might not feel the immediate need for a piece, will you in 5-10-20ft?




Nurse Ratchet taught me this one:


You start to pull the rap rope, and can't get it moving.


You and your partner grab opposite ends of the ropes and pull, hard.


The one of you holding the "pull" strand keeps the pressure on, while the other suddenly releases her end. The rubber band effect often will get a stubborn rope moving, preventing a cold night out.


If you are rappeling with a static rope and a dynamic rope tied together, set up the rappell so the dynamic rope comes down first instead of the static. That way if the line gets stuck for some reason you have (potentially) more lead rope to climb with than you would if you had pulled the dynamic through first. I don't know if this theory is 100% handy, I haven't really thought about all the possiblities, however it has worked for me once.


One: If you're the first person rappelling (or first or second if it's a party of three, etc.), once you're safe at the next anchor or on the ground, do not disengage yourself from the rope. Instead, pull out about 3 tugs of slack (imagine feeding slack to a leader who's about to clip), and then yell "off rappel." That way, the next person to rappel has enough rope to set up their own rappel, and then you can take your time to disengage from the rope. This saves much more time than you would imagine.


When you are off-rap, start feeding the pull end through the anchors while your partner raps. This will save you time.


Two: You're the last one rapping on two ropes tied together and you're worried about the knot sticking on the corner of the ledge. Besides using the EDK, there's a bonus feature: with a sling attached to your harness (either clipped or girth-hitched, it doesn't matter), clip the end *behind* the knot and begin to rappel. The 'biner will pull the knot along with you. Once the knot is past the corner, unclip and continue your rappel. Granted, you must be certain that both ends touch the ground.

Hope this makes sense.



Miscellaneous (includes food and first aid)


duck tape and wipeys. on and off.


I also carry a cheap disposable camera with me too. I simply taped one of those cheap plastic keychair biners on it and then attached a peice of string to act as a tether. Clip it to the back of my harness and way to go. No worries about dropping it either.


Oh and this one is kind of stupid/common sense. The ends of my shoe laces always fray. You know that stupid plastic part that always gets shredded and takes forever to put back through the hole when it gets pulled out. Tie a knot in the end of the laces so that it can't get pulled through


Keep a fresh cigarette in one of those super glue containers with the red cap. Just big enough for the job without being too big for a pocket. Almost impossible to crush. Now you'll be ready for that summit smoke.


If your locking biner gets stuck in the locked position and it's unweighted, weight it hard and then try to unscrew it. If it's weighted and stuck, try it unweighted.


always keep a "emergency biner". This biner has a few emergency items clipped to it such as a flashlight, knife, cord, whistle, matches, etc. That way you are never without crucial items and they are clipped right on your harness for convenience.


for short snow approaches on an alpine climb you can hose clamp your nut tool to a biner to make an ice pick.


keep a few starburst in your chalk bag for when you run out of water.


Buy a chalk bag with a zip pocket. Fill with rap ring (or small screwlink - better) BD ion headlamp and a razor blade wrapped in cardboard and duct tape - anti-epic kit that weighs next to nothing - oh yeah - your calk bag belt should be a piece of 9/16th climb spec


What I do to save money for climbing, is I put a dollar a day into a jug.

Plus I put any excess change that I have accumulated throughout the day. Minus the pennies. After 3 months, I have 90+ dollars ready to be spent on some climbing stuff. Its easy and painless. How often do you blow a dollar a day on cokes and what not?


Drink a whole quart of water before a long route then throw a capri sun sport drink into your chalk bag or in the bottom part of a survivalist chalk bag. That should get you through most of a day as long as it's not really hot. Add a gu and or a power type bar to your pocket and you shouldn't bonk.


a) for food-- small bits of beef jerky and sesame snaps (in canada-- way cheaper than power bars) or granola bars (US). fits in your pants pocket and protein/carb mix gives much longer energy than just carbs alone; also no shakes from bonking.


b) hydration: gatorade! avoid caffeine in the morning. you piss less and your heart rate is lower. i wear a small pack with a half-filled camelbak bladder and have asmall water bottle on my harness. you get better hydration if you drink small amounts infrequently. in the alpine, bring small units of Gatorade to add to whatever water you find. water is key. if you bring too much, drink it and piss more, or dump it. if you have too little, you will find 5.8 a killer chore and you will be mentally retarded at the endof the day, right when accidents happen.


c) also, start drinking water as soon as you get upi the morning. you can only absorb about 250 ml (about a big mug's worth) of water per hour. drink steadily until you start climbing. better an extra 1/2 litre carried than starting w/o enough water.


d) always carry the epic-kit-- small roll of athletic tape, tiny flashlight, razor blade in cardboard, matches in small plastic bag, light waterproof nylon shell (warmer and dryer than gore-tex), STICKY RUBBER approach shoes (5.10 rubber). when you are stumbling off of your epic at 2 a.m., you want sticky rubber, not technical finesse. also, bring 2 tabs of morphine sulfate, 4 Tylenol 3s and a caffeine pill or two. one of those silver emergency blankets is good. weighs nothing, takes no space (fits in pants pocket), and will save your life in the alpine (if you get one, get the BAG version not the simple blanket).


e) instead of a tuke (toque?), get an ultralight balaclava. fits better under helmet, and covering the neck will keep you warmer than covering head alone. my M.E.C. one fits into a pants pocket.


f) for long trad days, carb-load. Your daily nutrition happens BEFORE the climbing day. Two days before, have a non-muscle-stressing workout (e.g. a bunch of 5.7 pitches in the gym or your local crag)and then do some cardio. The ai is to deplete the muscle reserves of glycogen. That evening, pig out. Eat till you burst. Eat tons the next day, too. Come Saturday, you're going to be loaded with muscle glycogen and liver glucagon. Read about it in Neil Colgan's book Optimum Sport Nutrition.


Might be kinda dumb, but I always bring a couple of bandanas (you can't get three of them for about $5 at places like walmart, or even cheaper at the salvation army) They keep your head from burning, convert into every imaginable type of bandage, tourniquet (Do not use if you don't know how) support for sore joints, eyeglass cleaner, and a billion other things


If you're having trouble following the trail by headlamp, hold the headlamp down in your hand. The resulting shadows will allow far better resolution of rocks, the path, even boot prints than if the light were on your head.


Anti-epic kit:


My water bottle is wrapped with approx. 30 feet of duct tape, roll-fashion. And one locking carabiner holds my chalk bag (which contains headlamp, extra batteries, 10 iodine tablets, a book of matches, small bit of T.P. in zip-lock bag, epi pen, and 6 benedryl tabs) One locking carabiner holds 2 prussik loops (same length as over-the-shoulder runners so they can be used as runners or gear slings in a pinch) One locker holds knife and nut tool. ïƒ With this gear, I can pad sharp edges (duct tape) repair gear (duct tape) escape a belay and ascend to an injured partner (3 lockers, prussiks, and munter-mule magic), light a bivy fire and have a good night's sleep (matches, T.P., Benedryl), purify water (water bottle, iodine) pressure-wash a wound (water, ziplock bag with small hole in it) bandage a wound (duct tape, clothing, toilet paper), treat for anaphyllactic shock (epi-pen, benedryl) Retreat off a climb (knife to cut old slings, to cut cordelette to make rap slings, use prussiks as rap slings) clip in to an anchor at a hanging rap station (lockers, 2 prussiks girth-hitched end-to-end) find my way in the dark (headlamp) signal for help (headlamp, matches, toilet paper) and a number of other critical things that slip my mind at the moment.

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Who said it was supposed to be fun? ;)

Yeah, I've pulled the Dulfersitz out many times, but not much during the summer time, so I'm usually wearing some slippery g-tex pants. If you turn sideways the rope will rest more on the side of your leg, stabilizing you and getting some pressure off your balls.

Like I said, it's nice for days where you aren't planning on doing any prolonged climbing or rappelling - just take a short rope and you're all set.



For light days where you might get cliffed out and have to rappel but are not planning on pitching anything out with protection - leave the harness, take some anchor building materials (slings, biners, rings, webbing...), and a rope. Learn the Dulfersitz.

Even if you might need to use the rope for protection just tie it around your waist and use the terrain for protection and for belaying.


Have you ever done a Dulfersitz???? sure in a pinch i would do it, but never for fun. I mean if you like friction burns on your crotch and shoulders, and burning holes in your gear, than ya go for it.... I practiced it once, and i couldnt decide between having my ass on fire, or all of my weight on my balls.



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I attached a biner to the handle of my nut tool w/ hose clamps years ago and it has served me well:

*when seconding I sometimes leave the tool/biner clipped into the rope so that I can clean gear without unclipping & clipping the tool every time

*the biner is much more comfortable to push on than the bottom of the nut tool, and makes a secure handle when using the tool to self arrest on a steep snowy approach


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(picked this up from a buddy)

I slit a cork from a wine bottle lengthwise, and slipped it on the handle of my nut tool and taped it on with a shitload of duct tape. The cork fits in the palm of your hand, with the nut tool extended out (ala wolverine) and you can really punch the shit out of that stuck nut.

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