Article

The Best Yosemite Big Wall Climbing Rack and Gear List

Tuesday October 21, 2014 9:25am
Below is Chris McNamara's choice for Ultimate Yosemite Big Wall Rack. We list top choice first followed sometimes by the Best Buy (BB) choice> For example, the La Sportiva Ganda is our top Yosemite shoe choice but costs $200+. The Five Ten Camp Four is $105 and will get the job done.

This rack has almost everything you may need for a typical Yosemite Valley big wall. But heck, it's get you up Zion walls, Baffin walls and Dubai skyscrapers as well. Depending on the climb you are going to do and your experience you can pick and choose what you need.

Chris McNamara big wall climbing rack.
Chris McNamara big wall climbing rack.
Credit: Chris McNamara

==Rack for all clean routes (Example: The Nose )==
Nuts:
 1 set DMM Offset Nuts or ABC Huevos (BB)
 1 set DMM Peenuts
 1-2 sets DMM Brassoffse Offsets or Black Diamond Offset Micro Stopper
Cams:
 1-2 sets Black Diamond Camalot X4s (#00-4)
 1 set Black Diamond Camalot Offset X4 s (optional) (#00-4)
 2 sets Black Diamond Camalot C4s to (#0.5-4)
1-2 ea Moses Cam Hook
Ropes: 1 60m or 70m x 10.2mm and one 60m x 9mm static haul rope (8mm if traveling light, 10mm if hauling massive loads).
Quickdraws: 12 CAMP Photon Wire Straight quickdraw or CAMP Nano 23 Quickdraw to go ultralight
Carabiners: 50 extra Camp Photon Wire Straight or Mad Rock Ultra-Light Straight (BB) or CAMP Nano 23 to go ultralight
Locking Carabiners: 5 Petzl Attache 3D or CAMP Photon Screw Gate
Slings: 15 Mammut Contact Dyneema and a few 9/16" runners in case you need to leave them at rappels
Cordelette: Mammut Pro Cord
Harness: Arcteryx B360 or CAMP Quartz CR3 or Black Diamond Momentum (BB)
Belay Device: Petzl Gri Gri 2
Climbing Shoes: La Sportiva TC Pro or Mad Rock Flash (BB) usually worn a size too big with socks for comfort.
Helmet: Petzl Meteor III or Black Diamond Vapor or Petzl Elios (BB)
Metolius Adjustable Gear Sling or just use a wide sling like the Black Diamond Nylon Runner
Nut Tool: Metolius Torque
Hauling Device: Petzl Micro Traxion for loads smaller than 80lb or Petzl Pro Traxion for loads 80-160lb
Ascenders: Petzl Ascension
Aiders: Petzl Wall Step Etrier
Daisy Chains: Metolius Monster Daisy Chain or Metolius Nylon Daisy Chain (BB)
Black Diamond Fifi hook
Approach Shoes: La Sportiva Ganda or Five Ten Camp Four or Five Ten Guide Tennie or Evolv Bolt
Haul Bag: Metolius Half Dome Haul Bag or Metolius El Capitan Haul Bag
Gloves: Black Diamond Stone Glove or Homemade Fingerless Climbing Glove (BB) or Black Diamond Transition Glove (for cleaning only)
Gear Sling: I try to just use two shoulder length slings. On one side I put all the cams and gear and the other all the carabiners, quickdraws and slings. But if your rack is heavy, them bring a Metolius Adjustable Gear Sling.
whiskey and Carabiner Flask

Rack for mostly clean routes (Example: Zodiac)
Rack for all clean routes (above) Plus
Hooks: Black Diamond Cliffhanger, Black Diamond Talon, Black Diamond Grappling Hook
Keyhole Hangers: 4+ Moses Rivet Hangers
Wire Rivet Hangers: 4+
Beaks/Tomahawks: 2-4 Moses Tomahawks all sizes
1 set Black Diamond Lost Arrows
1-2 Black Diamond Angles
Gear Sling: Yates Big Wall Rack or Misty Mountain Double Gear Sling
Aiders: Yates Big Wall Ladder
Harness: Metolius Safe Tech Waldo
Petzl Bongo Hammer or the lightest hammer I can find... since you barely ever use it on most routes

Big Wall Bivy Gear
Runout Customs Double Portaledge
Bivy Sack: Black Diamond Big Wall Bivy Sac
Synthetic Sleeping Bag: Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 15 or Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20 (BB)
Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest Ridge Rest
Stove: JetBoil Flash with JetBoil Hanging Kit and Snow Peak Titanium Spork
Poop Tube: Metolius Waste Case and Wag Bags or make your own poop tube (click on link then scroll down
Stuff Sacks: Metolius Big Wall Stuff Sacks
Duct Tape
Wet One's wipes

Portable Solar Panel (optional) - Instapark Mercury 4S
Climbing tape

Personal Gear
Headlamp: Petzl Tikka XP 2
Rain Jacket: Outdoor Research Helium 2 because it is the lightest jacket we know of that is still waterproof.
Fleece: Patagonia R1 because it comes with hand warmers and a built-in balaclava
Belay Jacket: Rab Xenon
Trekking Poles (optional): Black Diamond Ultra Distance or Black Diamond Trail Compact (BB)
Sun Hat
cell phone with a case to hold it
small knife
hydration: For the leader, a small plastic water bottle with tie off sting for leader or a CamelBak Classic. Other water should be in 2-liter bottles or other bottles that are easy to tie off with string or clip biners to.

For a more in depth discussion of what gear we recommend and why, check out How To Big Wall Climb: SuperTopo



More!
10 Tips To Make Big Wall Climbing More Fun
Dream Rock Climbing Gear List
How to Big Wall Climb
Clean Climbing and Fixed Gear - Tips for Keeping El Capitan Garbage Free
5 Ways to Support SuperTopo

  Article Views: 31,292
Chris McNamara
About the Author
Climbing Magazine once computed that three percent of Chris McNamara’s life on earth had been spent on the face of El Capitan — an accomplishment that has left friends and family pondering Chris’s sanity. He has climbed El Capitan more than 100 times and holds nine big wall speed climbing records. In 1998 Chris did the first Girdle Traverse of El Capitan, an epic 75-pitch route that begs the question, “Why?”

Outside Magazine has called Chris one of “the world’s finest aid climbers.” He is the winner of the 1999 Bates Award from the American Alpine Club and founder of the American Safe Climbing Association, a nonprofit group that has replaced over 5000 dangerous anchor bolts. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley and serves on the boards of the ASCA and Rowell Legacy Committee. He has a rarely updated website, chrismcnamara.com, and also runs a Lake Tahoe home rental business http://rentsouthlake.com

Comments
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Comment on this article
reason

Big Wall climber
Fort Collins Co
  Apr 20, 2011 - 04:53pm PT
Great idea and a great addition to super topos. Having a hit list of gear can trim weight down and assure that you don't need to depends.
cliffhangerb

climber
  Aug 4, 2011 - 04:40am PT
New to the big wall side of thing so this article has been an absolutely great insight (along with the various post from the forums).

One question is that one of the recommended ropes is "Ropes: 1 60m or 70m x 9.2mm Maxim Glider". Is this supposed to be the 10.2mm Maxim Glider? Not finding any reference to 9.2mm for that rope from New England Ropes.
Prod

Trad climber
  Aug 4, 2011 - 09:54am PT
Not one mention of Fish Gear? His ecconomy haul bag? Porta ledges? Bigwall double gear sling?

What's up with that?

Prod.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Aug 4, 2011 - 09:57am PT
Bivvy Sheep with boots?
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Mar 4, 2013 - 01:08pm PT
I just updated this on 3.4.13. Please let me know if any links are broken or if there are any typos
Jon Rhoderick

climber
  Mar 4, 2013 - 01:16pm PT
The transition glove in the hooks section might be a typo, Im not sure of you mean 4-6 medium & 4-6 large peckers or 4-6 TOTAL peckers sizes med and lrg.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Mar 4, 2013 - 01:19pm PT
Did you do the Nose this Friday?
jeepnphreak

Ice climber
Bzn, mt
  Mar 4, 2013 - 01:36pm PT
Yes Jaybro bivvy Sheep.
Much like a normal sheep but more compact for those big climbs and just perfect for those cold nights waiting out a storm when you can not have your girl friend along.

I think the boots part was a typo is should be aproach shoes or climbing shoes you know the sheep has to climb as they really hate being stuffed in the haul bag.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Mar 4, 2013 - 02:57pm PT
Yep, did The Nose on friday... temps felt like 70's on the wall! working on the trip report right now...
Mark Melvin on Pitch 4 of The Nose on a one day winter ascent (tem...
Mark Melvin on Pitch 4 of The Nose on a one day winter ascent (temps in the 60/70's) 3.1.13
Credit: Chris McNamara
Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Mar 4, 2013 - 03:22pm PT
and here I thought Chris Mac was an office jockey...way to prove me wrong chris.
klaus

Big Wall climber
Pacif*#ka Muthaf*#ka
  Mar 4, 2013 - 03:28pm PT
cell phone but no OE on the list?

what gives?
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Mar 4, 2013 - 04:00pm PT
Cool thanks for posting this.

Is 9.2 really the big wall standard rope now??? Or is that supposed to say 10.2. I don't think I would go on a wall with <10mm
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Mar 4, 2013 - 04:14pm PT
When you reviewed the Black Diamond Talon hook you said:

I find that usually I reach for the Black Diamond Grappling Hook instead of this one. But, it is still good to have this.

But the grappling hook didn't make the list?
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Aurora Colorado
  Mar 4, 2013 - 04:14pm PT
You can keep the bivy sheep, I need my teddy bear.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Mar 4, 2013 - 04:19pm PT
I thought I was an office jockey too... thats why i had to break out!

Ooops, should have been 10.2 and not 9.2 lead rope. Corrected.

Yes, Grappling Hook should be in there. added in.

Thanks for catching my mistrakes.
Vegasclimber

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
  Mar 4, 2013 - 04:25pm PT
Mistrake should be mistake. You're welcome. ;)

It's kind of nice when I see gear lists like this now and say "Yeah, got all of that" instead of "The better half is going to get pissed again..."
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Mar 4, 2013 - 05:17pm PT
Awesome! We saw you guys in the morning, but I wasn't sure it was you till one of my partners also said "I think it was Chris MaCnamara." lol We were the party going for Lurking Fear. Not a IAD ascent, but we topped out our first El Cap route!
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Mar 4, 2013 - 06:18pm PT
Nice job Vitaliy! My buddy and I were on the East Buttress that day. We all scored some awesome weather!
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
  Mar 4, 2013 - 07:37pm PT
Hey Chris I know at some point you were trying to get an el cap in a day (maybe specifically NIAD?) during every month of the year. You were a maybe 2 months away. Ever get done? Looking forward to trip report.

Vit - Great Job! Looking forward to TR sometime (or at least more details)
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Mar 5, 2013 - 12:10pm PT
That is awesome that the three teams that were on El Cap that day are all on this thread! Way to send guys!

I wanted to climb el cap every month for a year... but then I found BASE jumping. But now that BASE is on the BACK BACK burner, maybe ill get back on that climb el cap every month in a year.

its a secret that ill entrust just with the internet... you can find summer-like daytime conditions every month of the year on a south facing wall. shhhh I wrote a trip report about the climb here http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Keep-The-Nose-Clean-in-2013-A-Winter-1-Day-Ascent-With-Lobster-Claws/t11860n.html
Abissi

Trad climber
MI
  Mar 5, 2013 - 02:06pm PT
Wasn't there once a "Steamy Bivy Dating Service"? for everyone single I would think this should be on their list.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Mar 5, 2013 - 03:43pm PT
We were also "on" El Cap. Making an attempt to Sickle for our first time. It's like a little reunion here on the Taco.

Met Briham89 and gave Vitaly's team a copy of our topo after bumping into his partner Alex on the way down.

Great day out there everyone.

Briham89 &#40;in Green&#41; and Macronut &#40;in the black by the FJ&#41;
Briham89 (in Green) and Macronut (in the black by the FJ)
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut
Macronut

Trad climber
Fresno, Ca
  Mar 5, 2013 - 06:08pm PT
Chris, I think you left the belay card out of your Big Wall Rack pix. I was truly a great day! Brian and Vit, glad to hear you were successful. Vit, hope the "how to big wall guide" was helpful.
Mark Collins

Trad climber
Chorley, Lancashire, England.
  Mar 8, 2013 - 06:47am PT
Hi,

Please excuse my ignorance, I'm posting for the first time from the UK and therefore have a very tenuous grasp of what big wall climbing is about.

I was just wondering about the differences between the rack here and the one on another page:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbingareas/bigwalls.html

There seems a lot less cams on the one on this page, what is the reason for this?

For example, the one on this page states offset cams as optional yet the other one says 1-2 sets up to number 5.
DerekCl

Trad climber
Altanta
  Mar 8, 2013 - 10:56am PT
Interestingly I noticed a couple totem cams made it into the picture, but not on the list. After reading the many discussions on this forum I decided to pick up a set as I build my big wall rack. I am still learning and haven't made it on many walls yet, but they have become a go to piece for me.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Mar 8, 2013 - 01:02pm PT
Cool thread. You've got a Gri Gri in your photo (which, hell yeah bring a Gri Gri on a wall), but not on your list.

Can the Mini-trax really do well up to 80 lbs? Love the idea of bringing that instead of a the big ol' Pro, but skeptical that it'd up to the task... Anyone got experience?

Edit: ah, Micro-trax, not Mini. Is the Micro stronger than the Mini? Could the Mini do it?
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
  Mar 8, 2013 - 01:45pm PT
The micro has a better pulley than the mini. The way the plates swing closed is also improved.

I've yet to haul more than a small bag, but it seems like hauling with the micro is better than the Mini-traxion.


Per the Rack above, in what world do you need 50 spare biners? Are you counting the biners on each cam in that number? Maybe 20 for your alpine draws. I dont usually have many true floaters...
Snowmassguy

Trad climber
Calirado
  Mar 8, 2013 - 01:23pm PT
Yep...I want everything on that list, brand new please! How sweet would that be to go into a gear shop( or online) and just build that massive rack and head to the register. Just out of curiosity, anyone calculate the total cost if you bought everything new at retail value?
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Mar 8, 2013 - 01:31pm PT
For example, the one on this page states offset cams as optional yet the other one says 1-2 sets up to number 5.

You don't HAVE to have them. But for climbing walls in Yosemite I would never leave the ground without them. I have brought 1 set before and wished I had extras. Typically whenever I place them I back clean them because you will probably need them again. If you back clean one set is usually ok, depending on the route. Make sure to get offset nuts as well
Jacemullen

Trad climber
Oceanside
  Mar 8, 2013 - 02:00pm PT
Can the Mini-trax really do well up to 80 lbs? Love the idea of bringing that instead of a the big ol' Pro, but skeptical that it'd up to the task... Anyone got experience?

Edit: ah, Micro-trax, not Mini. Is the Micro stronger than the Mini? Could the Mini do it?

The main difference between the micro and the mini is that the micro has sealed ball bearings instead of brushings.

The other thing that really stuck out to me is that the microtraxion is 91% efficient (meaning it takes about 109lbs to lift 100 lbs, ceterus parabus) compared to the 95% efficiency of the Pro Traxion (105lbs to lift 100lbs). For reference, the mini traxion is 74% efficient.

While the weight difference between the two isn't significant, it is still a few ounces that you will be climbing with.

And according to petzl, both the Micro and the Pro have the same working load (2.5kn) and breaking strength (4kn).
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Mar 8, 2013 - 02:02pm PT
Heck, if I need any new gear I just jug someone's fixed rope.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Mar 8, 2013 - 09:44pm PT
Mark Collins, the two lists should be the same... i will sync them. and yes i carry a few Totem Cams ... ill add those in
Mark Collins

Trad climber
Chorley, Lancashire, England.
  Mar 15, 2013 - 10:03am PT
Brill. Thanks Chris.
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