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Rock Climbing : Articles : General : Make That Zipper Clip!!!

Make That Zipper Clip!!!


Submitted by stevematthys on 2002-10-19

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I do a lot of trad climbing in Eldorado Springs, and just recently I have begun to notice how many climbers do not make their first placement multi-directional. Fortunately I have not seen anyone's protection zipper out when they fall.

The Zipper Effect happens when the leader falls and an outward force is exerted on the first few pieces of protection. This force can pull protection out of the rock and send your "bomber" stopper down the rope to your belayer, where it will not do much good. This however is not the only way your protection could zipper out. If there is a lot of rope drag, a similar type of force is exerted on the protection and you "bomber" stopper could get pulled out that way.

Stopping your protection from zippering out is pretty easy with some practice and a little bit of general knowledge. The first placement you make at the start of a pitch should be multi-directional. Which basically means that it should be able to take upward and downward force. To make this type of placement simply place two pieces of protection in opposition of each other. I have found that I can normally find a good tri-cam and stopper placements for the multi-directional piece. After you have two pieces in opposition of each other you must clip the two pieces into each other. To do this what I have found works good is to take a shoulder length sewn runner, clip it into the upward pull piece and then clove hitch the runner around the carabineer of the downward pull piece, then clip your rope into the runner.

Stopping your protection from zippering out due to rope drag is just as easy. Simply put a longer runner on the piece. Although it will make your potential fall a bit longer, your cam has a better chance of not walking out. You can also place a multi-directional piece to keep the cam from walking out, or clip something heavy into the cam's sling to weigh the cam down so that it will be less likely to move.

I place a multi-directional piece at the start of every pitch, and even though it is so simply it will never stop amazing me how many "competent" climbers will not place a multi-directional first piece of protection. I donít care if the route is a 5.2 or 5.12b you should always take the time to make that first piece your zipper clip!

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