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Rack Climbing Gear on a Shoulder Sling

Speed Climbing Tip 9


Ian jamming Scorpio Crack at the Rampart Range, Colorado.

Rack your cams and nuts on a gear sling to make fast changeovers at belay anchors.

Photo © Stewart M. Green

To climb faster and save time at belay changeovers, rack all your climbing gear on a shoulder gear sling. The second climber coming up a pitch can easily rack the gear he cleans onto the gear sling rather than clipping it onto gear loops on his harness. When he reaches the belay anchor, all he has to do is take the gear sling off and hand it to the leader. There’s no time involved, it’s just a pure and simple hand-off like the passing of a baton in a relay race.

Use an Adjustable Gear Sling

If you don’t do this, it takes lots of extra time to unclip each piece of gear from his harness and then hand it to the leader, who in turn has to re-rack it on his harness. By having it all racked together on a gear sling, you also avoid the possibility of dropping cams, nuts, and quickdraws during the hand-off. If there’s a difference in body size between your partner and you, then it’s a good idea to use an adjustable gear sling. Just make sure it’s easy and quick to adjust and that it won’t come apart, otherwise you’re screwed.

Discuss How You Want Gear Racked

It’s best to discuss ahead of time how you like the gear racked on the sling. The usual way is to put the bigger cams on the back of the sling and work forward from largest to smallest. A set of Stoppers or nuts can be racked on a couple single carabiners at the front of the rack. It’s also faster to rack each cam individually with a single carabiner rather than grouping two or three of similar sizes together on a carabiner.

How to Rack Quickdraws

Lastly, there’s the sticky problem of racking quickdraws. When I lead with a gear sling, I like having the quickdraws clipped onto my gear loops rather than on the sling. They’re easier to grab and it keeps the size of the rack on the gear sling from getting too big and unwieldy. I prefer my second to rack two or three of the quickdraws together on the top carabiner of another quickdraw. It takes a bit of extra time to pass the draws and re-rack them on my harness, but I prefer it that way. Find what works for you.

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