Mountaineering equipment that you will need for a safe climb
By: Yeo Han Hwee
You’ve watched it on TV or the movies, seen the photos, and heard colleagues and friends talk excitedly about it. You’re intrigued, but still unsure.
If you have considered taking up climbing (rock climbing, wall climbing etc), it will be a good idea to get familiar with some of the equipment. This is true, whether you intend to be a serious climber, or if it is just something you do once in a while.
Here's a basic list.
This is a key piece of climbing equipment. You tie your climbing rope into the harness, so that if you slip and fall, it will prevent you from plummeting and injuring yourself.
It usually has an adjustable strap around the waist, as well as loops for both legs. Try it out. It should be well padded, fits comfortably, and allows you to climb in relative comfort. When you suspend yourself and let go, most of the weight and pressure should be on the lower limbs.
This is probably your next most vital piece of equipment. Climbing shoes are very different from regular shoes. They have grippy rubber soles that give you better traction as you climb.
Climbing shoes should fit snugly, and not be too loose. The toes should also be pointed, and not rounded. This is designed so that it will be easier to get a foothold into narrow cracks, slots, and crevices.
Climbing Chalk/Chalk Bag
The chalk and chalk bag are simple, but an important accessories. Chalk is used to dry your hands and absorb excess moisture and sweat. It is usually made from powdered magnesium carbonate (similar to what gymnasts use).
A chalk bag is what climbers use to store chalk. It is usually clipped to the arness or on a separate cord around the waist which allows you to move it from one side of your body to the other smoothly. This allows the climber to dry both hands easily. Make sure you can open the chalk bag easily, and not fumble with drawstrings etc.
A carabiner resembles a metal link (oval, “D” shaped, and offset D are the most common) in a length of chain. It is used to holding and fastening ropes securely, for rappelling etc. They are also used to connect safety critical pieces of equipment together. Carabiners are usually made from steel or aluminum. They have a spring gate for easy clipping, and often come with a screwgate locking mechanism for additional security.
Climbing rope is your lifeline, literally. They are usually made from very strong woven nylon cord, and should have good elasticity. They normally range from 7.5mm – 11mm in diameter. Obviously, the thicker the rope, the stronger, but these will be very heavy (standard lengths of climbing rope are 50m or 60m).
Most importantly, only buy and climb on ropes that certified by the UIAA (International Union of Alpine Associations; now called The International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation). These ropes are designed to withstand the force and weight of a person falling multiple times, so please don’t use some rope from your local hardware shop!
These are just some of the common items you will use. It is by no means complete. If you want to find out about more items, or which ones you should invest in, consult a friend or a more experienced climber at a club.
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