Competitive Climbing – Equipment
In case of competitive climbing, players not just have to be excellent in climbing, they also have to be fully aware and cautious as the game involves a lot of risk.
As far as the equipment are concerned, the players have to use both climbing and protective equipment for a safe and successful climbing experience. Let us discuss some of the climbing equipment used in this game.
The ropes that are used in climbing are typically in kernmantle structure, i.e. a long and twisted fibre at the core while an outer sheath, made of woven coloured fibres, covers it. The core fibre provides around 80 percent of the tensile strength during the climbing whereas the outer sheath layer provides the desirable handling characteristics as well as durability to the inner core fibre.
There are two types of climbing ropes −
Dynamic ropes − Dynamic ropes are designed in order to absorb energy from a falling climber and they are mostly used in order to help a falling climber not fall very far by reducing the force experienced by the climber and his/her equipment.
Low elongation ropes − Low elongation ropes stretch very less and thus is not ideal for belaying. These ropes are mostly used for anchoring as well as for abseiling where players climb using these ropes. In some cases, players also use these ropes as fixed ropes to climb by using ascenders on them.
The modern webbing used in the game are made of either nylon or spectra or the combination of both. The webbing that are specific for climbing are made of nylon pressed flat tubes and are very strong with a capability of 9kn or 2020 pounds of force.
The webbing that is made of dyneema is even stronger with a capability of more than 27kN. Webbing is used for many purposes. It can be used as an anchor around trees and hurdles. It is also used for carrying equipment.
Carabiners are used as connectors during competitive climbing. These are metal loops with spring loaded gates. Initial carabiners were made of steel whereas presently lightweight Aluminum alloy is used to make these. Usually there are two types of carabiners which are − locking and non-locking carabiners. Different gates in carabiners are used which are − wire-gate, bent-gate and straight-gate.
In case of locking carabiners, these prevent opening the gate in case of use and are mostly used in conditions where important connections are needed such as: anchor points or belay device. Different types of locking carabiners are there which are twist lock and thread lock. The twist lock carabiners are also called auto locking carabiners because of their spring loaded locking system.
These are used by the climbers in order to connect to bolt anchors and for other security purposes. It consists of two non-locking carabiners which are connected by pre-sewn loop of webbing or a dyneema/spectra webbing. This webbing is a 60 cm loop which can be tripled over and turned into a 20 cm loop.
Carabiners that are used for protection have a straight gate whereas those to which the rope side is connected have a bent-gate as it helps in clipping the gate easily and very quickly. The safest as well as the most effective place to clip a quickdraw is when it is at waist height.
A harness is made from nylon rope webbing where the rope is tied around the waist for better comfort as well as security. It secures the climber to a rope or anchor point. It also helps in working at heights and includes amenities like gear loops and paddings.
There are different types of harness that are used based on patterns such as sit harness, chest harness and full body harness. While a sit harness consists of a waist belt and two leg loops, a chest harness is worn around shoulders and is considered as an extension of sit harness. A full body harness is a combination of sit and waist harness with the webbings used for the harness is polyester webbings.
These equipment are used to control the rope while the climber is belaying. Primarily a belay device locks off the rope which helps in providing minimal effort to arrest a climber’s fall. Usually a climber takes the help of these belaying devices while coming down.
Two types of belaying devices are used which are active and passive design devices. Passive belay devices relay on the climber’s brake hand. It also has a carabiner to lock off the rope. In case of active devices, a built-in mechanism locks off the rope without the help of other equipment.
These are also known as friction brakes. These devices are designed for descending on a rope. Different types of rappel devices are used in climbing. These devices include figure eight, rescue eight, and Petzl Pirana.
Ascenders are mechanical equipment that are used for ascending on a rope during the climb. To prevent these ascenders from coming off the rope, locking triggers are used. These are first attached to the climber’s harness with the help of a webbing sling and then clipped to the rope and locked. Usually two ascenders are used to climb a fixed rope.
As climbing is a risk filled sport, climbers use various protection devices in order to ensure their safety. These devices vary from personal clothing equipment to that of different climbing tools. Some of these equipment are described below.
Helmet is one of the primary safety equipment in climbing. A helmet is mostly used to protect skull against the impact forces during a fall or accident. In order to avoid flipping and having impact on back side of the head, helmets are highly recommended for the players. However, in case of competitive climbing, the use of helmet is optional.
In case of climbing, a specially designed shoe is used by climber in which sole is vulcanized with a rubber layer in order to increase the grip of the foot while climbing. These shoes are a few millimeter thick and fit comfortably around the foot. In order to reduce the frequency of replacing the shoes, they can be resoled.
Leather is used as the most common upper material whereas other materials such as fabric and synthetic leather are also used in making a climbing shoe. A downward pointing toe box ensures stability while standing on small holes and pockets.
The belay glove used in climbing is mostly made of either leather or synthetic substitute and is mostly helpful in protecting the hands while belaying down the rope. It also prevents rope burns and involuntary releases of the rope.
Chalks are mostly used by all climbers in order to absorb moisture and sweat on the hands. Mostly these chalks are stored in a chalk bag and are placed near the waist area of the climber with the help of a belt or hanged from the rope through a carabiner.