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Gear Guide
Off the Wall: Hassle-Free Climbing Tools

Climbing equipment is becoming notably easier to use, partly because designers are focusing on converted gym climbers who want to move to serious outdoor rock.

The equipment shown here will lighten your pack and reduce your chances of fumbling while placing protection, making it easier for you to enjoy the pure challenge and fun of the climb. Which makes this gear right for veterans as well as newcomers.

—Nancy Prichard

All prices in U.S. dollars.

Feathery Ropes

image: climbing ropeRopes are the heaviest pieces of equipment in your climbing pack. A fat, 11-millimeter [0.4-inch] rope can weigh more than nine and a half pounds [four kilograms].

The Beal Stinger ($175; +1 802 985 5056; www.climbhigh.com) and the PMI Elite ($150; 800 282 7673 [U.S. and Canada only]; www.pmirope.com) both use virtually the same construction and materials to achieve striking weight reductions.

These 60-meter-long [66-yard-long], 9.4-millimeter-in- diameter [0.37-inch-in-diameter] ropes weigh a svelte 7.6 pounds [3.5 kilograms].

The Stinger (shown) and Elite each have a lower impact force than any other single rope, transmitting less force to the climber at the moment a fall is stopped. This means a softer catch, plus less potential for a catastrophic tug on the protection you've placed in the rock. The Stinger and Elite are also available dry treated, which helps keep them from soaking up water.

Smooth Carabiner

image: wire-gate carabinerClimbers covet wire-gate carabiners because they weigh less than standard solid-gate models and are less likely to vibrate open in a fall. However, in the past wire gates had one significant drawback: Their locking mechanisms used notches that threatened to snag on bolt hangers or wired nuts, making fumbles more likely. The DMM Wire Lock carabiner ($10; +1 801 942 8471; www.dmm.wales.com) combines the wire gate's trademark light weight and convenience with a smooth, tongue-and-groove wire closure. The result is a carabiner that's easy to clip, very light, and extremely strong.


First-Move Protection

image: stick clipThe first bolt on a sport route may be 12 feet [4 meters] off the ground, meaning that a climber is not protected for at least a few moves. The Epic Stick Clip ($29; 888 902 5462 [U.S. and Canada only]; www.advancedbasecamp.com) unfolds to extend your reach by a full 9 feet [2.7 meters], letting you attach your quickdraw to the first bolt while you're still standing on the ground.

In the old days, climbers would sometimes accomplish the same task by attaching a quickdraw to the end of a tree branch with athletic tape; the Stick Clip works much better.

The device collapses into six 18-inch [46-centimeter] sections, slipping easily into your pack. And it's only 6.7 ounces [190 grams], so you'll barely notice the extra weight.

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