4 Outdoor Sport Climbing Hacks
Climbing post quarantine is already hard enough on its own, so here are a couple of tips and tricks that could make your life easier. You’ll find some sport climbing gear suggestions and some tips that go hand in hand.
Get a Rope Bag!
The problem with climbing outside is that it can get pretty dirty, muddy, and dusty. All of these elements are going to get into the rope, this makes it less easy to handle and will shorten its life span.
Rope bags have a small piece of tarpaulin material that lays on the ground, and you place your rope on that. It protects the rope for the dirt on the ground and makes it easier to carry around from route to route. There are specialized bits of kit that do this, and some rope bags come built into backpacks.
You can get a dedicated rope bag like the Edelrid Caddy II, which is large enough for an 80 m rope, it has a large tarp that creates a big surface area for the rope to lay across once it starts to be paid out. This is carried separately and set up at the crag. Or get backpack like the Camp Roxback, which allows you to put all your gear, shoes, quickdraws, etc, into it as well as carrying your rope. The rope tarp is inside it, and is ready to go the moment you are!
Quick TIP! When flaking your rope into the tarp at the end of the session tie the top strand of the rope into the corner with the red marking on it. This way you know the rope is ready to go for the next session and you know where the end is. Faff free. Seriously game changer.
You will notice that you tend to spend longer on the rock during a climb outside especially when on-sighting. Indoors it’s usually easy to see where the route goes, after all, you are following colors. Outdoors the route can be harder to spot. Route reading outside is something that comes with experience but starting out expect to spend some time looking for the next hold.
Quick TIP! Consider using liquid chalk…paired with normal chalk.
Liquid chalk tends to stay on your hands a bit longer and deals with moisture a better. If you use liquid chalk at the start of the climb then it’s likely to last at least a third of the way up. You can then top up your chalk layer from your chalk bag. This is a great way of dealing with the first section of a climb without having to worry about chalking up and the added powder chalk will seal the base layer of liquid chalk.
Climbing always has an element of risk about it, and indoor climbing tries to eliminate that risk as much as possible. The floors tend to be padded, and the first bolt is usually fairly close to the ground. Outside everything changes. No padded floors and that first bolt can be a bit higher, and generally, bolts are slightly more spaced outdoors.
A clip stick like this Beta Stick EVO is a great way of helping to manage risk, especially if you are a bit nervous.
You can use the clip stick to pre clip the first draw, putting you on a top rope for that first section. Generally, it is considered ethically okay to clip the first bolt, although any more than that is frowned upon if you want to Red Point.
Quick TIP! You can also use the stick to clip other draws on the route to practice sections. This might mean that you hang the stick of your harness when you climb. Or get someone to pass it up to you.
Route Reading - Do shoes make a BIG difference?
Route reading outside can be hard, so give yourself every little bit of advantage. Climbing shoes are the main point of contact between climber's feet and the rock. The wrong pair of shoes can make even the easiest routes feel difficult. Shoe choice is very personal, but generally consider flatter profile, stiffer shoes, for sport climbing. Stiffer shoes allow the climber more support when they climb so they don’t get as tired. With a soft shoe, you need to apply more pressure and weight through the sole, which on longer climbs can be distracting and exhausting. No edge technology might be worth a look into. Instead of using the traditional edge of a shoe, it has more of a roll in the rubber. The advantage of this is that you don’t need to be as precise with your feet when climbing.
There you go! Some tips and useful gear that could easily make your outdoor climbing experience a whole load more fun. If you have any other suggestions comment below!