Building a Rack


There was a time when a rock climbing rack was an afterthought. Early climbers tied knots in a rope and wedged the knots in a crack, thus inventing the first chock stone protection. Later it was machine nuts—like the ones you find on the underside of a picnic table—that they jammed in natural constrictions. These early versions of today's Stoppers weren't factory tested, didn't have a force rating, and instilled about the same amount of confidence as a banana peal on a Tuolumne slab. If you happened to fall and one of these things saved your life, you were nothing short of lucky.

Today it's gear that makes modern rock climbing possible. Chock stone protection has evolved into useable, safe, and simple passive protection, and since the invention of the spring-loaded camming device in the early 1970's, climbers place gear faster and easier. In the event of a fall, climbers can realistically expect that gear to save their lives. Assured by this new security, climbers have taken greater chances, pushing their limits harder, and the sport evolved.

Now it's your turn, and you need that gear. That shiny bouquet of clanking metal is part of what excites you about the sport, and your mouth waters when you see it hanging neatly across the store counter. Some of it you need like you need that new Porsche to replace your 1998 Volkswagon; some of it you actually do need to get started and climb safely. But how do you tell the difference? Here are a few tips on building your own rack and prioritizing your purchases, so you can climb without breaking the bank.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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