We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog discussing training plans training plans, mental techniques, and breathing exercises to help you improve your climbing. Check out those posts to get a ton of helpful tips you need to push into higher grades. However, sometimes when I’m looking for an extra edge, I head to my local gear shop to see what’s up. So, if you've got a few bucks laying around, here are four items that have helped me immensely with various climbing goals over the last several years.
After the long, cold winter of pulling on plastic, you may be hearing the outdoors inviting you outside again. You can hear it now…the chirping birds, the wind rustling the trees, and the clink clank of climber’s gear bouncing in cadence. As you head up the approach to the cliffs, you can feel the stoke of the first climb of the year. You’re feeling strong from all the winter workouts as you strap your shoes on and pull out that old rack that’s been sitting in your gear closet since last…who knows when? Belay on! The rock feels familiar, an old friend. The movement up the rock is as natural as the first two stoppers you just placed. Feeling confident on the easy terrain, you figure you might just run it out a little. After all, there’s a great placement just a little further up. Suddenly, you’re 8 feet above that last stopper. As you reach to make your next placement, panic sets in--the cam is frozen. The lobes won’t expand when the trigger is released. Heart racing and grip starting to sweat, it’s very clear: you forgot check your gear before heading outside for the first time of the season.
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I recently walked into my local climbing store for nothing in particular. As I was browsing, I came across a box and thought, “Is this box empty? Why are they displaying an empty box?” Skeptical, I opened the box and found...a climbing helmet! I was dumbfounded. Climbing helmets are normally bulky pieces! And while even the heavier versions aren’t that burdensome, at the end of a long day at the crag, I find myself tilting my head to the side and belaying while practicing neck rolls. As far as I'm concerned, cutting a few ounces can make a huge difference.
Not long ago Black Diamond released the ATC-Pilot--a brand new assisted braking belay device that’s perfect for the gym or the crag. I was skeptical at first since there are numerous similar devices already on the market, but I’m a huge gear nerd so I had to try it out.
For most of us, our gear is our treasure: something we meticulously clean, inspect, display for our friends to admire and painstakingly organize (Don’t believe me? See the raddest gear sheds here). The thought of retiring it is difficult, but you know what they say: it hurts to let go, but sometimes it hurts more to hold on. I’m here to convince you to retire your cherished climbing gear before the point of no return.