Gone Outdoors

How to Store Rock Climbing Equipment

by Marie Mulrooney

Every climber has had "that moment" at least once: Wrestling a seemingly endless tangle of climbing rope, or pulling a nest of tangled carabiners and slings out of your pack. Keep your gear under control, and maintain its ability to save your life, by storing it neatly in a cool, dry place, away from moisture and chemicals.

Things to Avoid

A few things are anathema to climbing gear of any type. Prolonged exposure to moisture or direct sunlight will weaken any soft goods in your climbing arsenal, including your rope. Battery acid, chemicals and even the ink from markers can also weaken your rope and other soft goods, such webbing or the "dog bones" between carabiners on your quickdraws. Finally, if you own crampons, ice axes or anything sharp and pointy, keep these items separate from your rope and other soft goods during transport and storage.

Storing Your Rope

Undo any knots from your rope, slings and other soft goods before storing them. Store your climbing rope in a cool, dry place, wrapped loosely in a rope bag or tarp for protection. Open the rope bag or tarp; if using a rope bag, tie one end of the rope to one of the rope bag's loops. Then stack loose coils of rope on the tarp or in the bag. As long as each successive coil of rope sits on top of the previous coils, you don't have to worry about getting them lined up just so. You can also loosely coil the rope and hang it from a peg or dowel, but make sure the entire rope fits over the hanger -- not just one or two coils. That way the rope's weight -- and the stress of holding it up -- will be more evenly distributed.

Storing Trad and Aid Gear

If you use trad or aid climbing gear -- things like cams, chocks, pitons, hooks and etriers -- you've probably developed a system for racking that gear, or keeping it organized and accessible while you climb. Most climbers use some variant on organizing by size -- for example keeping all the nuts from sizes 1 to 3 together, and all the large cams together. Basing your storage system on your racking system makes it that much easier to quickly grab exactly what you want. For example, store all your nuts together, with each size grouping hanging from a different carabiner; then install a cable or rope loop on the wall for holding the storage carabiners together.

Sport Climbing Gear

Sport climbers don't have to juggle as many different types of gear as trad and aid climbers, but they still amass an impressive collection of carabiners, quickdraws and -- if they're smart -- assorted rescue gear, just in case. Some of the easiest ways to store quickdraws include clipping them into a permanent rope or cable hanging from the wall; clipping a certain number of draws onto slings, so you can grab as many slings as you need; or leaving them clipped to the gear loops on your climbing harness. If you store the draws on a sling, give the sling a break by removing the quickdraws during periods of extended storage.

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