Forums: Climbing Disciplines: Big Wall and Aid Climbing: Ask Dr. Piton ... about how to rack your rack: Edit Log


Apr 10, 2002, 8:27 PM

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Registered: Oct 9, 2001
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Ask Dr. Piton ... about how to rack your rack
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The whole idea here is that you don't get stuff tangled.

Your wires will tangle with your nylon, your heads will tangle with your cams, and your hooks .... well, your hooks will tangle with EVERYTHING!


Believe it or not, there is a better way to put all this stuff on your rack so it doesn't tangle.

Chemical engineers know that "like dissolves like," so in the same way as you know that ethanol dissolves extremely well in water - and if you don't know this, you have no business being on a big wall - then you should also know that nylon mixes well with nylon, and metal mixes well with metal.

What doesn't mix is nylon and metal!

Heads and sometimes stoppers are notoriously nasty - the burrs on the ends of the cables will preferentially seek out every chunk of nylon on your rack, and magically stick to it like a schoolteacher sticks post-its on a blackboard.

Scary, eh?

So we will be racking stuff to reduce entanglement.


Now that you have properly racked all of your gear onto carabiners, it is time to put the stuff onto your rack.

You should note that I am left handed - you might want to substitute left for right in this next bit.

The important part here is to STAY ORGANIZED!!!

You must ALWAYS rack your stuff in the SAME way and in the SAME place, or else you will not be able to find it! Your rack could well weigh fifty pounds or more - it's flippin' HUGE - and if you don't know precisely where that little micro-cam is, you ain't gonna find it, mate.

Equally essential is that your cleaner must also rack the gear on his cleaner's rack in exactly the same way as you rack it on your lead rack! As Paul says, get your racking system sussed before you leave the parking lot! Figuring it out at the first belay is no place to start.

When it comes to racking, you and your partner MUST BE ONE. Get this sussed ahead of time, and get it dialled.


Now, as the cleaner cleans the pitch, he MUST rack the gear AS HE CLEANS! Waiting until you get to the belay to organize the rack is not the better way! This is probably the most easily prevented time waster on the big wall. The cleaner's rack should be equipped with rack tethers just like the leader's rack. This is especially important when soloing so you can get the rack off of you right away. It also needs to have the rear nylon subracks and the front subracks installed, too.

If the cleaner has racked his rack exactly the same as the leader, then changeovers are a snap!


I put all my metal on the left side - this being my pins, heads, chisels and punch, and extra large cams (four inch and above.)

I tend to keep the smaller things like blades and arrows towards the front, and the big honkin' angles towards the back and the bottom.

I also put my hooks which are not in use, and which are stored in their drawstring bags, on the left side.

Since we are using a double gear sling, we have plenty of room.


I put all of my cams, with the exception of my extra large cams, on the right side. This keeps the slings on the cams from tangling with the metal. I have all of my Aliens on the top right gear loop, and I have my one inch to three inch cams on the bottom right gear loop.

This is a monumental pile of cams! Fortunately, I can actually find what I'm looking for because of the colour coding.


On my left front subrack, I put my wired stoppers and micro-stoppers. I also put my hooks in use and my heads in use up here on the left front subrack.

On the right front subrack, I put a couple "footballs" of free biners.

The front subracks is also where I'll stick my favourite pieces, or the piece I think I'll need next.


On the rear subracks, I put all of my nylon where it dangles out of the way and doesn't tangle in anything. When I need it, I just reach behind and pull it to the front.


The Personal Rack is just the gear slings on my harness.

On the rear left, I have my hammer holster.

On the front left, I have my funkness device and nut cleaning tool. I also have my personal carabiner with duct tape on 3mm cord, ATC, big wall gloves, Swiss army knife and cord, and lighter.

I sometimes hang my pouch, which contains my lunch, penlight, ibuprofen, headlamp as needed, beer, and inflatable Helga doll with airpump, from my front left personal rack.

On my front right personal rack, I have my jugs, Grigri, and camera.

On my rear right personal rack, I put stuff for the belay which would include the compound pulley for hauling, or the hauling ratchet. I would also stick the cordalettes on here, too.


Well, yeah ...

But like, you don't take it all with you at once, eh?

Only a BWT would do that.


If you are climbing with your partner, you will have a zip line attached to the back or side of your harness with a locking carabiner. You need to use a locker because this is a critical link.

When you need extra gear, your partner can zip stuff up to you using the zip line.

If you are soloing, then you don't want to carry all your spare gear with you. Instead, you have all your spare gear hanging on your solo tag rack, so when you need some stuff, you can just pull it up, eh?

When I solo El Cap, I do it wearing about a fifteen pound lead rack!

I am Dr. Piton,

and I am too lazy to want to carry any more weight on my rack than I absolutely must.

(This post was edited by cliffhanger9 on Mar 26, 2013, 5:58 PM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by cliffhanger9 (Moderator) on Mar 26, 2013, 5:58 PM

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