Big Wall Episode #5 - Gear
Big Wall Bible
Big Wall Rack
The lightest but most useful thing you can take up a big wall is knowledge. Welcome to a resource that will help you be successful in getting up big rocks. Big walling is a big topic so we broke it into bite-size "pitches" with a video to START each one. The aim is to have lots of videos, photos, and written content in each section, not just of our stuff but your stuff as well. See HowNOT2 contribute your beta below.
Our courses are A-Z content in blog format, glued together with an overarching blog we call a textbook. A blog format is easy to read, easy to update, and easy to translate. Be sure to begin at the TEXTBOOK and at the end of each episode we'll point you to the next.
What gear do you need to lead while aid climbing? A whole lot! We'll show you our racks if you show us yours. WHAT do we carry and WHY and HOW.
Pick your poison. You have to carry 30+ lbs of gear and have two ropes attached to you (lead line and haul line). Do you want some of the weight on your shoulders but covering access to your harness, or do you want all of that cluster on your hips? Then you need to decide if you want the most used gear up front and center, or the gear you will need when you are most desperate. Regardless of how you skin this cat, do it the same every time so you can be blind at night or low on sugar and still grab what you want on your first try. Stay organized!
If you go with someone who likes a chest harness and you don't, see if you can find a middle ground where you can both rack the same, OR you can lead in blocks so you only have to switch everything over 1x per day. Learn each other's systems because when you are following and cleaning a pitch and your partner is leading the next pitch, deliver the gear to them in an order they like.
To mirror or not to mirror. It can be nice to have a blue totem on each side of your harness. You never know which hand is going to be most free as you are smashed into a flaring chimney where the only usable crack is way in the back of it. Putting your 2nd cams on opposite sides, or mirroring, gives you options but it can also be hard to keep track of how many you have left or even stay organized. Sometimes it's nice to just clip them all next to each other if you have lots of gear loops or one on the other, pulling the bottom one off first.
Big picture: chest harnesses cover your waist harness gear making accessing the gear a PITA. Gear on it also can hook to waist harness and prevent you from standing up at the most in-opportune time. EVERYTHING is on my waist harness. Personal gear goes on back loop. Gear is racked in groups by brand with the smallest towards the front. I'll carry a triple rack and even quadruple blue/black totems, but they are only taking one spot on my harness as they are clipped to each other with their own biner. I do not mirror anything. I can keep track of how many I have left easily this way. All cams have the same color biner associated with them except my offset aliens so I can tell them apart from the normal aliens by just looking down really quick.
The Real Beta
I spent DAYS putting together The Dream Big Wall Buying Guide at Extreme Gear. It is detailed on why I like certain gear and what purpose it has. They sell 90% of the gear you need on a wall plus 10% of what you buy there supports this project which gets us 100% stoked. If you are buying gear at retail prices, please buy it here and we can keep growing this resource.
Always pants, never shorts. Long sleeve lightweight shirt with hoodie to keep sun off my neck
Low ankle approach shoes
NO knee pads
Grivel's 3 finger gloves - these protect the pinky unlike other fingerless gloves
Hard shell helmet (not styrofoam kind) with headlamp
In my pocket - topo, snack, spare batteries and 2 Zip lock bags if I haven't shit that day yet.
Yates adjustable daisies
2 Yates ladders independently in their own carabiner
Both ascenders when I'm following, 1 ascender when I'm leading
Grigri & Atc
Lead Rack - links to each item are in the Buying Guide
2 Sets of micro nut off sets - no normal micro nuts. Each set has it's own biner
1 Set of normal size off set nuts. All these are on one biner
Every cam below has its own Camp Dyon or Photon
Double rack of totems, 4x of blue and 4x of black, I don't take the largest yellow size
Double set of Aliens
Double set of Offset aliens
Triple Rack of #0.75-#3 C4s no need to overlap my totems with smaller sizes when I have so many aliens
Only a #4, #5 or #6 C4 if required
4 quick draws, 6 double lengths (120cm slings)
6 Free biners with rivet hangers dangling on some of them
4 spare lockers
1 grapple and 1 talon and 1 cam hook regardless of grade
Quad anchor with 4 HMS lockers attached to it ready for the anchor on the back gear loop
If I have a hammer (rare), its hanging on the sling below my feet, not on my harness
Water bottle half full on the back loop
VT prusik and knife are my entire emergency kit and are on the back loop
Protraxion on the book loop
Haul line attached to 2mm string tied to my rear full strength loop. If the haul bags fall for whatever reason, it breaks the string, not my back
On my shoulders: 15x 10mm dyneema 60cm length slings with one carabiner per sling
NO JOKE. Take a Rocky Talkie. It's worth its 199grams in gold if anything out of the ordinary happens. It really sucks to depend on your partner doing the right things in the right order if you can't talk to them and only have rope tugs to communicate. Take it fully charged and you won't even need spare batteries. You get 10% off with this LINK.
Big picture: personal gear goes on waist harness and chest harness gets all the lead rack. He splits evenly the gear between both sides. Nothing is stacked on anything else. Cams are placed in order of size not grouped by brands.
GTX shoes to protect ankles, TC Pros Climbing Shoes if free climbing
Petzl Evolve Adjustable Personal Anchors
At least 5 Lockers
Ascenders - even on lead
Tibloc, nano trax, knife
Helmet with headlamp
Hammer in a hammer holder
Leading Gear on Chest Harness
2 Yates Ladders
Micro Off Set Nuts
Mixed nuts including offsets
Micro Cams including blue and black aliens, BD Z4s, Metolius X4s
2 set of totems up to Red
2 sets of BD C4s
Inside the chest harness pouch: Mechanical advantage setup
Just the Tips
Vertical Clipping Warning: If you clip a cam to its sister cam's carabiner, you must remove the lowest cam first. If you don't you will drop the lowest piece of gear as you rotate the higher carabiner. Practice at home dropping gear if you pull it off wrong so you understand how it can happen and prevent doing it up high.
Hammer Hack: If you are doing a clean route, you can bring a small hammer like THIS with a hole drilled in the wood handle to put some paracord on it so you can hammer out your nuts and clean your gear. You don't need a big ass hammer for basic tasks like that.
String Theory: Put a 2mm string on your haul loop. Clip the haul line to your rear in a way it can break the string before your back if for some really horrible reason the haul bag disconnects from the anchor.
10% Supports HowNOT2
Get 90% of your big walling gear here. This leads you to a detailed buying guide.
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