If you are like me, you threw your rock gear into the garage or gear closet at the end of the rock season in anticipation of the forming ice. The rock gear was stored away without much inspection. Now the seasons are changing, and the ice is melting away. It is time to dust off your rock gear and get ready for another great season. As you sort through your gear you should include an inspection of each item to be sure you start the season off with a clean kit. Here are a few high use items to give some extra attention to during your preseason checkup.
Belay devices do not last forever. It is important to look at the climber side/back side of the device. The rope friction can cause sharp edges to form. This photo shows a device that has developed grooves that are quite sharp. If your device is developing this type of groove, consider replacing it.
GriGris can get very dirty. This dirt transfers to your rope and drives particles into the nylon strands. Take an old toothbrush and quickly scrub away the black gunk that accumulated last season. No water or special cleaners are needed.
The carabiners on the market today are very lightweight, unfortunately this often means the durability is low. Take a look at your belay carabiners and the carabiners on your quickdraws. If you can see a groove, feel for the depth and for any sharp edges. If you have any doubt, replace this carabiner. The questionable carabiner can be rotated into your quiver to become a utility carabiner. I typically retire the carabiner to a job that does not involve movement of the rope.
The rope is our life line. We must be sure this piece of equipment is ready to for a long season. If rope has fuzzy spots, be sure to examine this spot thoroughly. Check for soft spots and white core strands coming through. You can cut out the bad spots, but be sure to remember that the rope will be shorter and middle markers will be offset.
If your rope is black with dirt, consider washing the rope. To wash the rope, lay it in a bathtub. Fill the tub with warm water, swish and agitate the rope in the water. Drain the tub. REPEAT until the water runs clear. To dry, hang the rope over the shower curtain rod. Be sure to lay a towel down to collect the dripping water. If you choose to use a rope wash, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
The lightweight helmets available are not very burly. They typically cannot take multiple seasons. Take a look at your helmet and look for cracks and dents. If your helmet is looking beat up, consider replacing it.
It is up to you to be sure your gear is clean and ready to go. Don’t hose your partner by showing up with neglected dirty gear. Set yourself up for success with a little attention ahead of time. Happy climbing everyone!