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Stick Clip Tricks for Sport Climbers


Submitted by j_ung on 2008-10-31 | Last Modified on 2008-11-24

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.   Votes: 15 | Comments: 25 | Views: 23827

by J. Young


"Damn, but this wall is steep steep steep," I mutter to myself. I'm mid-lower from a popular sport route and, increasingly, I'm experiencing technical difficulties cleaning the draws. I'm tethered to the rope with a quickdraw, but I'm pumped from the route and the lower I get, the harder it is to pull myself into the wall, unweight the rope and pluck the draws free. Soon though, after much work, the last draw left standing is the first on the route. Stick clipped by most people who climb this line, this particular bolt was placed high specifically to minimize the number of bolts on the route. The FA intended for people to use the clip. And indeed, without a stick clip, if one blows the lower moves, the result will be messy as he or she crashes into a either a chunk of talus or a dead tree trunk, then tumbles another 10 meters to the base of a lower tier cliff. The unlucky belayer will follow unceremoniously to land in a clump atop the climber. Trez Wiley Coyote. So, the stick clip provided me an easy and safe solution, right up until now. I don't want to unclip the first bolt and swing out, because there are other trees waiting hungrily. And I sure ain't gonna boulder back up to clean it, for the reasons mentioned above.

What's a poor, technically inept sport climber to do? Bring out the stick clip again, of course. Many climbers use a clip to place the first draw, but many more are unaware that the standard, home-made aligator-clamp stick clip also makes a fine tool for removing draws and for clipping the rope into already-hung draws. Here's how. First, you need a standard, home-made clip. Most people make them with an extending painters' pole, and aligator clamp and a couple of hose clamps. If you don't know how to do that, try a search.

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In the above shot, my home-made stick clip is being used for standard light duty -- hanging a first draw. Note that the the clamp is holding both the spine and the gate of the biner. With a firm enough clamp, even wire gates are no problem. All one has to do is place the draw in the clamp, place the rope in the draw and then reach up and clip. Once the nose of the biner clears the bolt hanger, just yank the stick down. The clamp will release the draw and the gate will shut. If, for some reason, you pull out too early, just slap the spine of the biner with the stick. It'll go right in.

(Insert sex joke here.)

You: But j_ung, everybody knows that trick. What's the point of this post, loser?

Me: Shut up, fool!

CLIPPING THE ROPE INTO A PRE-HUNG DRAW

That's the easy part. Here's where we get a little (for sport climbers, anyway) technical. Let's say you're out swapping leads with your partner and the dehydrated idiot accidentally pulls the rope completely down without leaving you the first clip. No problemo, but it'll take a little rigging. You need another biner. I used a BD Neutrino, but I gotta tell you, bigger biners work better. Trust me on this and save yourself some trouble. Slide the biner up one of the legs of the clamp...

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...bring it all the way up and over the top and then clamp its nose, like so:
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Notice that the clamp itself and the basket of the biner form a small loop. That's what you need. In fact, the above configuration is the basis for both of the tricks I'm about to show you. From now on, I'm going to call it The Glory Hole. Cram a small bight of rope through The Glory Hole and cinch the biner tightly into the clamp so it holds the bight firmly. The bight should be just big enough to admit a hanging quickdraw, like so:

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Now, raise the clip to the draw so that the rope is on the gate-side of the draw's bottom biner.
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Give the rope a little pull. That's it. Slow and steady.
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Voila! You got it!

REMOVING QUICKDRAWS

Warning: This is not easy. It takes practice. Seriously. In my opening monologue I illustrated the problem that arises when it's difficult or even dangerous to clean the bottom draw while lowering. Bust a stick move again! Sport climbers beware: things are about to get very technical... First, build yourself The Glory Hole. Cram another bight of rope through The Glory Hole, just like when you clipped the draw last time. This time, however, bring the loop all the way up to the draw's top biner, again so that the bight of rope is on the biner's gate side.

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Give the bight a slow, steady pull to open the biner's gate...

That's it. Now, here's where the practice comes in. The next step is very tricky. The rope is going to want to slide up the gate and into the biner. The only way to keep it from doing that is to pull the rope down tightly to hold the gate open firmly. But also... hold the clip up. That's the tricky part. Practice practice practice... Once you've learned the correct tension between pulling the rope and down and pushing the stick clip up, it's an easy matter to swing the stick sideways a bit and gently lift the biner out of the bolt hanger, like so...

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Again, don't expect to get this right on the first try. The good news is that if it doesn't work, you gan just pull the rope and clip down and start again. I think that, as you practice, you'll notice a few things. Keylock biners are easier to unclip than standard hook-and-pin biners. Some shapes work better than others for making The Glory Hole. Blah blah blah... There, now all you technically inept (just kidding!) sport climbers have a gear trick to call your very own.


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25 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

 Tipton
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 2008-11-03
Good Article. Another easy way to pull the last draw on a steep route is to tape the gate open as you lower past it, then when you're on the ground just whip the rope to dislodge the open bolt end carabiner. It might sound crazy, but it stops the pendulum and allows you to get your first draw without all the hassle.
 j_ung
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 2008-11-05
There's another trick that entails putting a small rock or a chunk of stick in the stickclip to keep the clamp open. Then you grab the biner's gate with the propped open clamp and twist it off. I could never get it to work well with anything other than keylock biners, though. Thanks for the added trick, tipton.
 yevquest
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 2008-11-05
Nice info for the sport climber learning to play on steep routes. For what it's worth, I've done all of these things with just the clamp, no need to add another 'biner (or glory hole) into the mix.
 j_ung
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 2008-11-05
Right, me too, but the above tricks are the only ones I can get to work consistently and easily no matter what type of biners I'm using. Notched biners are a particular problem with all the other tricks I know.
 rtwilli4
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 2008-11-05
Nice info. I'll be sure to tell all the wimps using stick clips next time I'm at the Red :)
 flipnfall
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 2008-11-05
5 out of 5 stars What a brilliant idea! As I'm having to lead solo, using a stick clip will expand my possibilities. Thanks for sharing this very useful information!
 k.l.k
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 2008-11-05
I enjoyed this piece. Although I really didn't need more reminders of why it is that I prefer bouldering.


No, but seriously, good image illustrations.
 krosbakken
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 2008-11-05
Nice.... the funny thing is that this last weekend I went sport climbing and used this same thing. I saw it on some climbing video.

It works super well and is really cheap. No need to go and spend a ton of money.

And for a handle I used a broom stick, super ghetto but works.
 currupt4130
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 2008-11-05
j_ung, I did the rock in the stick clip trick when someone bet me I couldn't get the draws down for them off a route they didn't finish. It's really not hard, just a matter of finesse. It worked fine for me with non-keylock biners.
 staballman
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 2008-11-05
Great post. I know there are other ways of doing this but now after being defeated by a route I won't feel quite so dumb trying for 30 mins to get the last draw down
 JAB
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 2008-11-06
5 out of 5 stars Thanks for the tips. I mostly climb trad, but stray into sport every now and then, so this was a good summary for me! I hope to see more of the same in the future. Thumbs up for the clear pictures.
 msiddens
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 2008-11-06
gotta break out the old stick clip!
 ClimbSoHigh
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 2008-11-06
My favorite way to get that first draw clipped is to laso it, which is almost as much fun as watching others "attempt" to laso a first draw. It is by far the fastest way to get it clipped, unless you take a bunch of tries. If you wanted to practice make sure you use an old rope so you dont scrape the hell out of the sheath of your lead rope. The repetative missing and hitting rock can do some serious damage magnified by the fact most people tend to swing the rope harder and harder the more times they miss.

Of course this is all assuming its permadraws.


So get out there you cowboys (and cowgirls) and show those stick clippers how to rope a drawgie.
 j_ung
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 2008-11-06
The rodeo clip? Fun!
 abe_ascends
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 2008-11-06
j_ung, you just saved me some money. Well, not right now, but in the future. And I get to impress my friends! Hurray!
 ckirkwood9
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 2008-11-07
cool deal...when i first started reading this my first thought was - yea.. but what about unclipping?

hadn't thought of how you used it... well done!
 neekwan
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 2008-11-08
Order a SuperClip! It is the easiest method I've found for retrieving draws and much more durable than the Squid.

http://www.rockclimbingtools.com/Rock-Climbing-Tools-SUPERCLIP-p/rct101.htm
 A-Bowl
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 2008-11-09
Do you guys consider it Red point when you stick clip the first?
 ktmt
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 2008-11-11
SuperClip, agreed! Don't get a Squid. I had one and it's epic to learn how to use it. Good luck showing someone else. SuperClip is simplicity itself.
 dpotter05
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 2008-11-11
wonderful! thanks j_ung! :)
 j_ung
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 2008-11-12
A-Bowl, I do consider that a redpoint, as long as we're talking about sport climbing. But in the grand, cosmic scheme of things, I don't think it really matters.
 rx_7addict
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 2008-11-17
i wish that there was at least one person here that would stand up for real men who actually climb and not hang dog clip stick bullshit climbs with bolts less than 15 feet apart.
 climb_eng
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 2008-11-18
Stick clip are teh w33k
 diligentia
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 2009-04-21
Nicely done, Jay.
 boldererATL
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 2009-08-08
"Sport Climbing Ethics" is a contradiction in terms. Stick clipping is no weaker than drilling holes in rock and placing permanent bolts. It's a sport, not a life-or-death struggle. You boneheads that spout ethics concerning sport climbing are ridiculous. Go climb some offwidth or something and by all means, free-solo it. Anything else is cheating. Gotta make sure our ethics are sound, right? Or, we could live and let live and ignore other peoples ethics when they have absolutely no effect on us. Too bad it's never gonna be that easy.

And thanks for the terrific beta, Jay. These are great tricks.

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