One of the questions I get asked regularly is what someone should buy for their first sport climbing rack (set of equipment), so here’s a nice broad answer to get you up and running, and just in time for Christmas too...
Indoor Climbing Kit:
We’ll work on the assumption that you already have your own harness, belay device, chalk and rock shoes. If not, best get down to Up & Under and start shopping…
How much is the contents of your head worth? Enough to look after it for sure!
If you are going climbing outside then a helmet is a sensible choice to make. Its not just for things that are falling on you, but also for when you fall into things, like the route you’re climbing. Go for one with some protection from the side, as well as the top. I like the Petzl Meteor and Petzl Boreo.
There are lots of lengths, diameters and types out there so it can feel like a minefield of options, so lets narrow it down.
You need a dynamic (slightly stretchy and shock absorbing) rope thats rated to be used on its own.
Diameters vary from about 9mm (light but harder to hold) to 10.5mm (heavy but tough).
Dry treatment will help it last and make it lighter to carry when you’re rained off, but costs a bit more.
Lengths vary but there are some standard sizes (and uses):
35m – for routes up to 17m, that’s most of your indoor wall and the majority (but not all) of sport routes in South Wales.
50m – Standard British sport rope length, will do almost everything without being too bulky. This is the best option to get you started.
60m – Off to Spain for a week? Best have one of these handy, most Euro routes are 30m long, some even longer, so best to know before you go.
Indoors these are normally in the wall already, outside you’ll need to bring your own. Again, these come in some different styles and sizes. Wire gates are lighter and stronger, solid gates are often easier to handle and work routes. Solid gate is best if you’re only climbing sport routes, consider wire if you’re in to Trad and winter climbing too.
I find a 15cm sling/dogbone the best size, 12cm feels a little short, 18cm a bit long most of the time, although a couple of these can be handy to have. Something like the DMM Alpha Sport is a good option.
At the top of your route you’ll need to thread the anchors to get your gear back, before untying use your cowstail to prevent a fall. A 60cm sling and screwgate krab work, but if you want safety and convenience as a priority then I’d recommend the Petzl Connect Adjust with an auto locking krab. This takes out all of the worry and a lot of the risk, try one, you won’t be disappointed.
If you have a rope, use a rope bag. This will make it easier to handle and last longer, it’ll also help it stay out of the mud/sand/dust and give you somewhere to clean your shoes before stepping on the route.
A guide book! Always best if you know where to go. Gower Rock is, of course, the best guide book on the planet (for Gower at least), but you might also use the Rockfax guide to South Wales or the South Wales Climbing Wiki.
A small first aid kit with some good tape, a bandage and pain killers will help you deal with most things at the crag. If you haven’t already, do a good outdoor 1st aid course.
As you climb more and push your grade, a clip stick like the Beta or Pongoose will help get those draws in and keep your ankles safe.
Its quite a list, but look after your kit and it will last for years. The good news is that if you come on a course with me, then you’ll get a discount at Up & Under in Cardiff, the best climbing shop in South Wales. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get climbing!