NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 4:00p on 06/25/22 - Temperature: 88.7 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 88.7 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.907 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Falling Slowly - Humidity: 15 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
International Mountain EquipmentNorthEast MountaineeringMooney Mountain GuidesEquinox Guiding Service LLCSavage Mountain Gear
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May 28, 2009

Hi Folks,

To paraphrase the terrible Capital One credit card ads that are all over TV these days - "What's on YOUR rack?" I've been out climbing with a variety of people lately and observing what they carry, and have also been looking over my own rack thinking about streamlining it a bit. It was kind of surprising to me to realize just how much stuff I've been carrying around, and how old some of it is. What about you?

So here's a picture of my normal trad rack. what a real mess-o-stuff it is.

Als trad rack

It may be a bit hard to discern from the picture, but here's the mix:

23 assorted nuts & stoppers grouped by size on 3 biners
1 purple Metolius
2 green Aliens
1 orange Wild Country TCU
6 BD Camelots from silver through blue
4 Tricams from pink through blue

I use one of the old Metolius gear slings with the padded shoulder and 4 fixed plastic loops. Yes it does hand down and can be annoying on overhanging climbs, but I don't climb that hard any more, so it is rarely a problem. [wry grin]

Of course this doesn't include the 12 slings with 2 biners on each, 4-6 spare locking biners, 4 wire gate biners, 1 or 2 belay devices, 2 cordalettes with locking biners and nut tool. All these are spread over another sling and the gear loops of my harness. With clients I usually bring a GriGri as well, just to make belaying (and sometimes lowering) easier. Even with ultralight wiregate biners on Dyneema slings, all this stuff adds up to a hefty 16 pound. That's a lot of stuff to haul up a cliff, on top of my already overweight body!

So we've had 3 rainy days in a row, and I'm looking over all this stuff thinking what can I dump? Hmmm..... Well of course I can always try and suss out the route before I climb it and only take what I need. For something like the Saigons I only take slings, cordalette and a handful of gear, 'cause I pretty much can remember the gear I need. For Standard Route on Whitehorse I know I need to bring it all 'cause I'll probably use most of it at one point or another. You would think that there has to be something that I can more or less permanently dump, right? Occasionally I leave the blue Camelot off the rack when I know I don't need it, I can drop one of the double green Aliens the same way and I don't always use a GriGri since I have a Guide ATC that works OK when I 'm not on a long route with more than one client. I have a number of doubles of my stoppers, but they are so light it really doesn't matter. And besides there are just a lot of times when I need that extra #6 Rock. So all that saves a little weight, but I still want all the nuts, all the small and medium cams up to the gold Camelot, all 12 slings & biners, the spare lockers, the nut tool and cordaletts. [sigh]

So basically I'm still left with 13-14 pounds of gear whenever I'm out cragging trad. I see a few folks like Henry Barber out climbing with just the bare minimum of stuff, and here I feel as if I'm carrying a whole gear store around my neck. I have to wonder, am I just an old fuddy-duddy here? I guess it just goes with the territory, until the invent ultra-strong and ultra-light gear. Or maybe I should switch over to sport climbing, where all I have to carry are draws. Naaaah!
Bug Report:
Still holding at a BUGCON 3 right now. They are definitely out there & this 2 day rain even will likely kick them into a frenzy, so stay tuned.

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Have fun and climb safe,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

My success rate is much higher when I'm soloing. It's easier to talk yourself into quitting when you have someone to talk to.
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