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Racking Cams Question
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By Sean Nelb
From Grand Junction, CO
Dec 15, 2012
Some Like it Hot (5.12b). Devils Tower, WY

rogerbenton wrote:
op's question had nothing to do with how hard people climb.


Sure it does. I doubt he was asking about racking methods for their aesthetic worth. How you rack is inherently tied to how hard you climb. I have seen plenty of climbers struggle on routes that they would most likely have the physical ability to climb if they didn't waste energy clipping, unclipping, slinging, and reslinging so much stuff from their harness and shoulders.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Dec 15, 2012
El Chorro

Obviously your rack will change a lot depending on where you are but I typically do something like this:

Cams with individual biners.
A set of offset nuts with a third to a half set of regular stoppers. Split onto two biners.
Few tricams on a biner or added to the stoppers.
2-4 helium sport draws (or any light skinny dyneema draw)
2-4 trad draws
2-4 24" slings over my shoulder with one biner
0-2 48" slings over my shoulder with one biner

Total I usually take 10-14 ways to attach the rope to my gear. Pitch length, single or double rope and how much passive gear I think I'll place usually dictate how many slings I take. Lately it seems like I take less cams, more stoppers and draws but thats because of where I've been climbing.


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By Bryan G
From San Jose
Dec 15, 2012
Puffy jackets and Happy Boulders

I use either style depending on what I'm climbing.

If I'm cragging at Indian Creek or the Cookie or something where it's mostly straight up cracks where i don't have to worry about rope drag and I just want to plug-and-go, then I will rack each cam on it's own.

But most of the time I will bundle 3 to 5 cams on a single biner. The main advantage is that it's a lot easier to fit a lot of gear on your harness. I don't climb with a gear sling so if I have a double set of cams, plus nuts, draws, bail cord, approach shoes, water bottle, and more all on my gear loops it will quickly turn into an impossible clusterfuck if all the cams are racked individually. Having five .2-.75" cams all on one biner makes it a lot easier to manage.

If I find myself approaching a cruxy looking section that will be sustained then (while at the last good stance) I will pick out a few cams I think I will want to place and "pre rack" them by putting quickdraws on them and moving them up to the front of my harness so I can plug-and-go.

Also I'm not a fan wearing slings over my shoulders (like several people here have suggested) for a few reasons: First and foremost, when you lean forward they will dangle in front of you and get in the way or caught on something. Second, if you have the slings over your left shoulder then you can't take one off without also taking your right hand off the rock, which can be annoying if you're placing your gear from a key right-hand fingerlock and don't have anything good for your left hand. And third, though it's extremely rare, it is possible to choke to death if you take a lead fall and one of the slings snags a knob on the way down.

Just my $.02 to add to the variety of opinions on this topic.


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Dec 15, 2012
Bocan

The only cams I double up on a biner are the micros. If I'm trying to save weight I'll throw 4-6 slings with one biner over my shoulder instead of on my harness.


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By nadeleets
Dec 15, 2012
Halloween 2011

Since you didn't spend money on biners, I suggest buying this book and reading it thoroughly

$20
$20


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By Drew Nevius
From Oklahoma
Dec 16, 2012
BETA: For me, crux move was sticking the move to the flake above these crimps

One thing I'm surprised hasn't come up yet is chaining cams of the same size so organizing on the harness is easier and less cramped but they're still racked individually. For example: I clip a #2 to my gear loop, and then I clip the next #2 to the biner of the one already on my harness. Anyone else do this?


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By rogerbenton
Dec 16, 2012
Whoever this guy is, he's just plain irresponsible.

bearbreeder wrote:
climb hard enough and youll realize the reason why people generally dont do this ;) the questions was asked why ... and the answer is that once youre pumped out of your mind on a sustained 11+ finger crack at your limit ... you arent going to shuffle through your 2-3 TCUs on a single biner to select the best one ... for the OP ... keep in mind that a lot of the stuff that people can get away with on moderates ... dont necessarily work when youre on "hard" sustainted climbs at your physical limits thats also one of the reasons why people generally dont carry cowbells anymore for hard cragging =P




so do you not use nuts, or rack them individually? or are nuts for people who don't climb hard?

i think knowing exactly what piece you need and grabbing the right one the first time is a bigger time saver than reclipping a cam to your harness before grabbing a draw.

not fumbling around and being smooth with whatever racking method you use is whats up.


  • edit to add*

i do not in fact climb "hard". but when leading at my max it is the moves and not the gear that gets me.


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By john strand
From southern colo
Dec 16, 2012

Sometimes i rack nuts single, but generally when I'm pretty sure that's the needed size- like at a rest looking to a cruxy section. The only other time may be single nuts on wires (not that I advocate this) but I have done it many times esp. when gripped


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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Dec 16, 2012
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard

I'd say it depends. Do you always have to do it the same way?

First of all, there is a difference between hard crack climbing and hard face climbing. A hard crack will generally involve placing a number of pieces of the same size, it is often obvious from a distance what they will be, and the crack itself is parallel-sided and easy to judge. Makes sense to have each cam on its own biner for this.

Hard face climbing is a different world. Looking up, you usually have absolutely no idea what size pieces will be needed. Often you can't tell from any one position where the next piece will be and what size you'll need. And when you find a placement it isn't in a nice parallel-sided crack, there are wiggles and obstructions and...features...that make it harder to get the placement right on the first try. The result is that you may have to carry a wider range of gear, will need a draw on every piece, will not know which pieces are needed until the placement reveals itself, and even then may have to fiddle.

In this case it makes sense to have at least 2 or 3 of your small cams on a single biner, just as we do with nuts. The potential for having to experiment decreases as the crack size increases, so it still makes sense to have larger cams on their own biner, since there is no advantage to having different-sized cams on the same biner in the bigger size ranges. That leaves a gray area of middle-ranges up to personal preferences and perhaps some foreknowledge of what the route offers.

Another consideration, already mentioned, is whether the climb is short or long, which is to say whether re-racking time matters or not. If re-racking time matters, then it is most efficient to have cams on a dedicated biner, and ideally that biner is not used for clipping the cam unless no extension is used. That said, a lot of re-racking inefficiency comes from the second clipping gear to themselves willy-nilly with no system. If the party has agreed on a racking system and the second knows how to adapt to it (for instance, not taking apart trad quickdraws), then the difference in reracking time between having each cam on a biner and multiple cams on a biner can be greatly reduced, although not eliminated.

On short routes where time is not an issue, one can think about the tradeoffs between saving a little weight (pretty minimal savings with today's light biners) and saving a little time when pumped at the crux. It seems to me that saving time wins out if you are at your absolute limit, but for routes below that limit, putting doubles on the same biner saves a bit of weight and also some space on the rack.


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By bearbreeder
Dec 16, 2012

rogerbenton wrote:
so do you not use nuts, or rack them individually? or are nuts for people who don't climb hard? i think knowing exactly what piece you need and grabbing the right one the first time is a bigger time saver than reclipping a cam to your harness before grabbing a draw. not fumbling around and being smooth with whatever racking method you use is whats up.



nuts are much easier to place on lead off a bundle ... when im climbing hard i place no more than 5-6 nuts per biner ... and when i know ill be placing a particular size, ill rack em individually on the ground or a hands free stance if there is one ...

like i said there are many things people do that work on moderates that generally dont work on harder sustained routes ... which is one reason why you generally dont see too many people place multiple cams on a biner when they climb "harder" climbs with few rests

almost ANYTHING will work on a moderate with good stances ;)

put it this way ... gear is the only thing saving your azz ... and the ability to place gear fast and well is absolutely key ... especially after a crux when yr pumped out of your mind, but there still no "good stance" ... yr also much more likely to drop your "bundle of cams" at that point


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Dec 16, 2012
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

rogerbenton wrote:
so do you not use nuts, or rack them individually? or are nuts for people who don't climb hard? i think knowing exactly what piece you need and grabbing the right one the first time is a bigger time saver than reclipping a cam to your harness before grabbing a draw. not fumbling around and being smooth with whatever racking method you use is whats up. *edit to add* i do not in fact climb "hard". but when leading at my max it is the moves and not the gear that gets me.


This is not a dig at your climbing ability...but your profile says that you climb 5.8-5.9, at this level there is almost always a good stance between the hard moves to stop and place gear. So it makes sense that you'll not get shut down placing gear since you'll be able to stop at good places and place it. As climbing gets harder the availability of good stances will usually go down too, often requiring the ability to place gear in less than ideal places.

I'll sometimes group cams together when I'm climbing long moderates or alpine routes where I'd rather save the weight and space. Even then I usually think that the time lost while cleaning and re-racking is not worth it, since I believe it is easier to re-rack if every cam has it's own binder. But if I'm climbing at my limit, I'll definitely rack cams individually.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Dec 16, 2012
El Chorro

csproul wrote:
It also makes it easier to clean IMO. The follower can place things back in order as s/he cleans them, and you don't need to take the time at the end of a pitch to put all the cams back on the appropriate carabiner.


This is enough reason for me to dedicate one biner to each cam. I hate fucking around at the belays unless there is red wine involved.

rogerbenton wrote:
i do not in fact climb "hard". but when leading at my max it is the moves and not the gear that gets me.


Can you do v0- boulder problems? If so then it isn't the moves that are causing you to fall off - it is you being pumped. Everyone can improve their efficiency. If you ignore certain ways that it can be done, you're only holding yourself back.


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By kcradford
From Asheville, NC
Dec 17, 2012
Foot

As I said in my original question this is the method that I learned from from the guy who taught me to climb, and I was wondering other people did this.

I appreciate all the feed back and will likely try out some of the suggestions.


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By SexPanther aka Kiedis
Dec 17, 2012
Thumbtastic

Ryan Williams wrote:
I hate fucking around at the belays unless there is red wine involved.


Classic.


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By rogerbenton
Dec 17, 2012
Whoever this guy is, he's just plain irresponsible.

Ryan Williams wrote:
Can you do v0- boulder problems?



ryan, hopefully one day i will amount to a pimple on a v0- climbers behind.


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By Brian Hudson
From Greenville, SC
Dec 18, 2012
Valor Over Discretion (5.8), RRG

Drew Nevius wrote:
One thing I'm surprised hasn't come up yet is chaining cams of the same size so organizing on the harness is easier and less cramped but they're still racked individually. For example: I clip a #2 to my gear loop, and then I clip the next #2 to the biner of the one already on my harness. Anyone else do this?


I gave that a try this morning...actually works pretty well. Thanks for the tip.


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By Brandon H - SC
From Jackson SC
Dec 18, 2012
cover

Drew Nevius wrote:
One thing I'm surprised hasn't come up yet is chaining cams of the same size so organizing on the harness is easier and less cramped but they're still racked individually. For example: I clip a #2 to my gear loop, and then I clip the next #2 to the biner of the one already on my harness. Anyone else do this?


yup


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Dec 18, 2012
El Chorro

rogerbenton wrote:
ryan, hopefully one day i will amount to a pimple on a v0- climbers behind.


I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or not. I only asked because I assumed the answer would be yes - judging by your profile.

Anyways, I think you at least understand my point. Don't ever give yourself limits.


Re: chaining double cams. I've seen a few people do this and have tried it. It takes me longer to grab the cam this way and sometimes the biners get stuck. Maybe it's just me - but I didn't like it so much.


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