How many screwgates for a big wall


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Tom Ripley

Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 14, 2013 - 12:22pm PT

I'm planning my first trip to the valley at the moment. I've just booked my flights so psyched it high. So high in fact that I went out and practiced aiding last week in the pouring rain!

I'm trying to work out what gear i need to buy for big walls (we're psyched for aid only walls like the Shield.) and have realised that I don't have nearly enough screwgate krabs. Currently I own only three.

We are going to be climbing as a three.

How many screwgates do you normally take on a big wall?

So far I've worked out.

Each climber should have
1 for belay plate
1 for gri gri
2 for jumars
2 for daisies/clipping in

6 each (or a total of 18 between the three of us)

Then 3 for each belay. Total 6

1 Oval for Protraxion.
1 auto locker for attaching to haul line.
1 HMS for docking haul bags.
1 HMS for each haul bag. (We're going to have 2 bags)
1 krab for each ledge (we are climbing as a three so need 2 ledges)
1 Old krab for poop tube
1 Krab for tag line
3 extras for attaching random things.

That's 36 in total... Does that sound about right or am I way out?



Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 14, 2013 - 12:27pm PT
Hardly any, they get in the way.

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Feb 14, 2013 - 12:28pm PT
First response... paging Werner.

Second response... That is way more than I ever carried. But, times have changed.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Feb 14, 2013 - 12:29pm PT
However many for your haul bags and Gri-gri, that's it. I've climbed El Cap at least 8 times with none.

I know it's important for things to not randomly fall off a wall but do biners randomly open all that often?

Trad climber
East Coast US
Feb 14, 2013 - 12:29pm PT
Carry more ovals and less lockers. YMMV.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Feb 14, 2013 - 12:36pm PT
If you're going to take that many lockers be sure to include pliers in your kit...

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Feb 14, 2013 - 12:49pm PT
The amount you take. However many you take will work. I've done it many times with just one. You can always find a use for as many as you take.

More important question is, how many total biners are you bringing?

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Feb 14, 2013 - 01:36pm PT
More important question is, how many total biners are you bringing?


Trad climber
Feb 14, 2013 - 01:39pm PT
take a couple screw gates, and a roll of duct tape. Then you'll have 100 or so Mexican lockers whenever think you need them. :)

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Feb 14, 2013 - 01:41pm PT
Kris beat me to this....

If you're going to take that many lockers be sure to include pliers in your kit...
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Feb 14, 2013 - 01:52pm PT
You need a sh#t load of carabiners, maybe 100 or so. Lockers, non lockers, whatever.

Feb 14, 2013 - 02:30pm PT
We did the Shield in the early nineties.
As a party of three we had about 50 biners alltogether that was not enough at all,did a lot of back-cleaning....had about 5 screw-gates....what seamed not enough also.
Today a would bring a lot more,it was our first wall and we had no experience at all...funny trip anyway....

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 14, 2013 - 02:39pm PT
We used to do El Cap, and everything else, with zero locking biners. They were a pain in the ass, and you were still relying on one piece of gear.

If you needed security, you used two regular biners with the gates opposed.

That way you use everything on your rack. I see these people doing zodiac with two or even three pigs. That is just stupid, unless you are doing it slow on purpose, which people have done since the beginning of wall climbing. Pete sets the record on that most likely.

Then again, Pete is running out of routes, which means going to HalfDome. Nobody to worship you up there.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 14, 2013 - 02:41pm PT
Does anyone even know how to rig a rappel or lower off device out of carabiners? It used to be the way things were done, but nowadays I would view it as a tool to know if you drop something.

You don't need no damm gri gri to climb El Cap.

I'm all for the 100 carabiner number. It makes life easier.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Feb 14, 2013 - 02:47pm PT
100-150 is not out of the norm for 3

Harding had bins of biners on the FA of the nose.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Feb 14, 2013 - 02:57pm PT

I still usually rig a rappel solely with carabiners, although that requires having 'biners that aren't wiregates and have much bigger openings than modern, lightweight ones.

We used to carry between 50 and 60 aluminum ovals on most walls, and one or no locking 'biners, but modern gear's light weight and relatively small size require the higher numbers and, to my mind, at least a few lockers (though I've never carried more than three personally).

Still, I often look back fondly to the days where we carried much less stuff, and used it in a variety of ways. An old-fashioned hammock isn't in the same league as a portaledge, but I slept most of the night in them anyway. Of course, I never had to endure a serious Pacific storm in one, so I may have had different memories if I lived through one. The massively heavy loads in modern haulbags tempt me to go back to my early 1970's technology.


Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Feb 14, 2013 - 03:04pm PT
base, i do this every once in awhile just to keep it fresh in case i drop something and need to use it
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Feb 14, 2013 - 03:13pm PT
I think the only time I've used lockers is for the belay device and a couple times for the haul bag, though doubled biners works just as well for that.

Too many wall newbies get too focused on buying really specialized gear that they believe is essential to their success, either forgetting or not realizing that most of these wall were put up with things not much more sophisticated than hammers and nails. Planning is great but don't overdo it.

Big Wall climber
El Portal/Chapel Hill
Feb 14, 2013 - 03:40pm PT are DEFINITELY overdoing it. I will bring whatever is needed for the haul bags/swivel (usually 3-4), 1 per gri-gri, one per climber to clove in, and perhaps 4 more for good luck. That is about 10 per climb.

AND...the old farts on this website will keep talking about how they had nothing back in the day....I personally like the security that comes with lockers on the haul bags. I also believe cloving in on a locker and belaying off of is a matter of safety. However, anything else is definitely overkill.

Go get it!
Paul Brennan

Trad climber
Feb 14, 2013 - 03:46pm PT
Think I have maybe 8 or 10 or something. Mainly for belays and the haulbag. Bring as many biners as you can scrape together, with at least enough lockers for the bag and the anchors. You can never have enough snap gates.
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