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.
Tom Ripley

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 14, 2013 - 04:00pm PT
Cheers for the replies.

I probably am overdoing it.

Do you guys take a normal plate (ATC or Reverso) as well as gri-gri? If not how do you rap off if you have to bail?

Also do you not need one s/g per jumar for cleaning?

I like the idea of not taking too much stuff and enjoying a lighter ascent.

Cheers, TR

Trad climber
Washington DC
Feb 14, 2013 - 04:10pm PT
one for bag and one for belay device is all I ever took. Hudon probably takes ten cause he seems to drag nine bags...:)
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Feb 14, 2013 - 06:07pm PT
There are three things that you can't have enough of on a big wall:

 free carabiners

Bring all that you have!

So when you are up there, and you are [constantly] looking for extra slings, free carabiners and lockers, remember my words:

"I told you so."

Note: If I see you on the bridge, and you tell me that my words above were not true for you, I will give all three of you a beer.

Incidentally, you should mix up your lockers - not only screwgates which are sometimes hard to unscrew, but various other types and shapes of lockers.

Also, if you have a locking carabiner that is dedicated to a single purpose for entire wall, and never has to be opened, consider instead using a "Mexican locker", which is a regular locker whose gate is duct-taped shut. Remember to leave a little tab on the end of the duct tape wrap so that you can easily remove it after you're finished with it.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 14, 2013 - 07:32pm PT
Pete, you absolutely have things dialed in for comfort on a big wall, but you are no speed demon. If you acted like that on Zodiac, there would be ten teams below you shouting curses.

Everyone needs to learn how to easily make a sweet rappel device out of biners. That is 101 safety.

Now all of the anchors are three bolt fatties. We used to build our own anchors, putting in our own gear. Now the belays are uber strong. I don't want to say that the old ways were for heroes, it is just a comment on how to get by just fine. You don't need a cordallete on a belay of three fat bolts. Just clove them off and go. You'll live. You don't need three pigs to do the Nose or Zodiac. All of these techniques make you terribly slow, which matters on trade routes. Speed and efficency matter to most climbers, and Pete's amazing mastery of all things gear isn't always geared for speed. We used to consider speed as safety. The less time you spend on a route, the less chance of a storm and heaven forbid, rescue.

We used to hate lockers. They were available, but not necessary. Two biners with the gates opposed works well if you need security.

OK. My bitch. You don't need a cordallete on a belay of three fat bolts. Just clove them off and go. You'll live. You don't need three pigs to do the Nose or Zodiac. All of these techniques make you terribly slow, which matters on trade routes.

Pete. Now that you have done almost every route on El Cap, you have to go to Half Dome. Hire some mules and some porters, set up a camp, and do route after route. Half Dome has a lot of hard routes with few repeats. You won't be able to B.S. at the Pizza Deck. I bet that will be your greatest sacrifice.

That face is incredibly overhanging on the right side. I used to have an exit point to the right of Tis-A-Ack. There was a little bulge at three seconds that you had to miss by a really strong push off on the exit, but that face overhangs so much that at ten seconds you are 150 yards out from the face with just a half assed track. El Cap is the most beautiful jump, perhaps in the world, with the Nose just to your right, and the beautiful face, but Half Dome rules as far as the freefall. You can burn it down on Half Dome, or now with wing suits nigh fly to El Cap Meadow, but pre-wingsuit we could track out over part of the death slabs and burn it down to 300 feet or so. You have to open high on El Cap to make it over the trees to the meadow.

I loved Half Dome.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Feb 14, 2013 - 07:47pm PT
Very cool BASE!

Flying both monoliths.

Captain...or Skully

Feb 14, 2013 - 08:20pm PT
Here's the deal, Tom. Don't bail.
That said, I like to have a couple or three lockers around, for the Haul bag & such, but they are by no means necessary. Standard biners are. Get all you can. Good luck on your quest. And you are definitely gonna die.
You can decide when that'll be.

Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Feb 14, 2013 - 08:30pm PT
Base104 - that is very cool that you've jumped off Half Dome and el Cap. I feel like I've somehow missed out in life...
Delhi Dog

Good Question...
Feb 14, 2013 - 08:40pm PT
Locker's getting bum rap.

edit: course he probably deserves it:-)

Trad climber
Feb 14, 2013 - 10:05pm PT
If you don't have enough, you'll always have just enough.

Trad climber
Ridgway, CO
Feb 14, 2013 - 10:26pm PT
12 BD Vaporlock screwgates . . . these things are sweet.

Big Wall climber
Kalispell, Montanagonia
Feb 14, 2013 - 10:28pm PT
My answer, all of them. I own around thirty, and never remember any extras at any belay. Biners, again all of them. A hundred at least.

Burly Bob

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 14, 2013 - 11:55pm PT
Take 100 lockers if you want to. They all work. Make sure to take a cordalette in case your 5 pigs pull a bolt.

But yeah. For any aid route, 100 is about right. You run out amazingly quickly. Also slings like Pete said.
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