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Racking Cams Question


Original Post
KC · · Bellevue, Wa. · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 5

I have been trad climbing for a couple years now and am starting to climb with some new people, and have noticed a habit that a lot of climbers seem to have and that is in the way that they rack their cams. The way I learned was to rack 3 or 4 cam on a single carabiner similar to the way most people rack nuts. when placing a cam you grab all 3 and place the cam and clip the rest back to your harness. I would then clip to the sling with a trad draw and extend it as needed.

I have noticed that a lot of people rack each cam on its own carabiner and when they place it the then clip a draw to the sewn sling leaving the carabiner that the cam was racked on the harness with hanging. Is this how most people rack cams?

my first reaction is that do these guys have so many carabiners that they can just leave one at every placement. my second reaction is that this could add up if you are concerned about weight.

Am I the weird kid?

Nick Evans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20

YES. You are the weird one...

Imagine dropping one cam and watching 3 or 4 others tumble to the base of the cliff with it. Now, with one mistake, 1/4 of your rack is lying on the ground and you are (possibly) stranded on route.

Just one advantage of racking individually. I'm sure others will follow...

Crag Dweller · · New York, NY · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125
kcradford wrote:... my second reaction is that this could add up if you are concerned about weight...
You are carrying two 'biners and a sling for every cam plus your racking 'biners. If you have each cam on its own 'biner you can clip directly into that 'biner on placements that don't need to be extended so you can carry fewer 'draws.

And, when you do need to extend, you leave the racking 'biner too, removing that weight from your harness. It's actually more efficient in regard to weight as long as you're not on a route that requires extension at almost every placement and you don't carry excess 'draws.
csproul · · Davis, CA · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 325

A cam on each biner makes it easier to grab and plug the cam you want when you are leading at your limit and being quick can be important. You don't need to take the time to remove the right cam and then replace the cams you didn't use. This assumes, of course, that you were able to pick the correct cam the first time...another good skill. 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.

The trade off, as you mentioned, is that there is more weight with one biner per cam. And, as you also mentioned, you have a bunch of "extra" carabiners. I personally think it is worth it to use one biner per cam and that these are good trade-offs. In the end, it doesn't matter what you do as long as you and your partner are on the same page.

henryb · · asheville, nc · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 5

I agree with csproul. The change over time at belays is cut in half especially if the other leader racks the same.

Sean Nelb · · Indian Creek · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 395

Racking cams individually and leaving the carabiner dangling from its sling after placement is faster. You are correct that this method increases the weight from all the extra carabiners, however, you can decrease the amount of draws that you have to carry, since unless you are climbing a very wandering line it is unlikely that you need a draw on each cam. Even if the weight is still greater from racking individually, the efficiency of this method compensates for this detriment. Being able to quickly place a piece, clip the rope through the racking carabiner, and speedily move through difficult terrain can be far more important than shaving off a few ounces from your rack.

Logan Schiff · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 60

I have gone back and forth on this. Pros and cons to each have been mentioned by others. Recently I've putting putting the large cams on one biner and all others two to a biner. Feels like a good balance so far.

john strand · · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,640

one cam/one biner don't worry so much about draws on each cam. You don't always have to extend each placement... you don't

Rob Warden...Space Lizard · · Between Zion, Vegas, LA, an… · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 115

my friend and coworker does this as well. I think its weird, he thinks it works. he grew up climbing in the Gunks and at Seneca, for him he says it works. He does it because your always clipping an alpine draw. in that case nesting cams make some sense. Well now we live in Utah and you only need to extend a placement when you go through a roof. He refuses to change his racking method even when I watch him get pumped out of his gourd on 5.8 trying to place gear. I think we need to be more flexible with how we rack. try out a gear sling, or single racking krabs. I don't think that it adds that much weight,and the ability to plug gear fast is worth the 29-36 grams a biner on 10-15 cams a pitch. when and if you start climbing hard trad every second your not moving means your hanging on a painful shitty jam... every second is slightly more agonizing than the last. The ability to get the cam in there fast and keep climbing to a real rest is a make or break issue. I would not enjoy nesting cams on tips or tight hands,ring locks, or god forbid awefulwidth. I cant even imagine me lifting a 4 a 5 and a 6 all on the same biner while held in place with a knee lock...ughhhhhhh.

Brad W · · San Diego · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 75

One of my partners does this and it makes cleaning and re-racking such a PITA. Also, the rack is a complete cluster after a few pitches (bc it's such a PITA to re-rack).

If you want to cut down on carabiners relative to the alpine draw method, do shoulder slings with 1 biner each and carry a half dozen-ish free wiregates for gear (nuts etc.) that don't have a dedicated racking biner for each piece.

csproul · · Davis, CA · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 325

And yes, you live in Asheville...of course you're the weird kid ;)

Mr. Holmes · · Cascade West · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 75
john strand wrote:one cam/one biner don't worry so much about draws on each cam. You don't always have to extend each placement... you don't
+1
david doucette · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 25

i rack each cam on a biner and carry about 6-8 quickdraws (slings) with only one biner attached. then i place the cam, clip the quickdraw (sling)to the biner already on the cam and clip the rope to the quickdraw. no need to carry two biners per quickdraw.

i've also started foregoing the quickdraw if the route is straight up enough and just clipping the rope right to the biner on the cam. saves some nice time.

Hiro Protagonist · · Colorado · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 290

Do y'all also rack your C3s the same way? I currently have four C3s racked onto two biners. Not sure this is convenient or annoying, but I never end up placing all four, so 1-1 ratio seemed excessive.

Chris Norwood · · San Diego, CA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 80
Hiro wrote:Do y'all also rack your C3s the same way? I currently have four C3s racked onto two biners. Not sure this is convenient or annoying, but I never end up placing all four, so 1-1 ratio seemed excessive.
I rack all of my cams on individual biners except for my C3s. I only have 3 (yellow, red & green), and just rack them on a BD oval wire, then clip a draw to one when I use it. I do this mostly because I'm worse at eyeballing their placements than with big cams. My friends that climb harder (like 5.11 trad with lots of small placements) than I usually rack them individually.
Allen Corneau · · Houston, TX · Joined May 2008 · Points: 80

Another vote for "one cam per biner".

I don't carry quickdraws on trad climbs. Instead I've gone to a system of:

1. Each cam on it's own biner, nuts bundled one set/biner, three Tricams (black, pink, red) on one biner.
2. Six 12" slings with one biner each, racked on my harness for short extensions.
3. Six 24" slings with one biner each, over the shoulder for longer extensions.
4. Two 48" slings with two biners, trad-draw style and twisted up, for really long extensions.
5. ~10 extra biners for nuts/Tricams as needed.

I've found this system works for me. I like having the option to clip straight in to the cam's racking biner or add a 12", 24", or 48" extension as needed with no extra biners left behind (except for the 48").

It also helps that almost all my biners are either CAMP Nano's or BD Neutrino's and my slings are BW Titan slings.

Drew Nevius · · Oklahoma · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 1,869
Logan Schiff wrote:...large cams on one biner and all others two to a biner.
With little cams, when you may be less likely to pick the right size the first time, it makes sense to have multiple cams on one biner. That could actually save time, and will definitely save weight if you arent placing tons of those micro cams on the route. I'm referring to 00-1 or so Master Cam sizes
john strand · · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,640
Allen Corneau wrote:Another vote for "one cam per biner". I don't carry quickdraws on trad climbs. Instead I've gone to a system of: 1. Each cam on it's own biner, nuts bundled one set/biner, three Tricams (black, pink, red) on one biner. 2. Six 12" slings with one biner each, racked on my harness for short extensions. 3. Six 24" slings with one biner each, over the shoulder for longer extensions. 4. Two 48" slings with two biners, trad-draw style and twisted up, for really long extensions. 5. ~10 extra biners for nuts/Tricams as needed. I've found this system works for me. I like having the option to clip straight in to the cam's racking biner or add a 12", 24", or 48" extension as needed with no extra biners left behind (except for the 48"). It also helps that almost all my biners are either CAMP Nano's or BD Neutrino's and my slings are BW Titan slings.
You really carry 14 slings ?!
Clayton Knudson · · Moab, UT · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 35

don't know if anybody mentioned this yet, but you also become very hard to climb with using that system. I've climbed with someone who nests their cams before and its very frustrating to get handed a total mess of cams with draws attached and some without, spare biners floating all over your harness to straighten out before you lead and not knowing how to re-rack which cams with others on what biners that leads to you, in turn, handing a total mess to your partner to straighten out for the next lead. i think the individual racking is more conducive to individual leaders styles and preferences as well as racking specifically for individual pitches that only require certain sizes or racking sizes to one side of your harness(think corner systems or roof traverses, etc.).

camhead · · Vandalia, Appalachia · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 1,240

If you rack multiple cams on one biner, you are a noob.

It also makes it more likely that I will lose some of my own gear when I borrow your cams, and have to supply my own biners for them.

Allen Corneau · · Houston, TX · Joined May 2008 · Points: 80
john strand wrote:You really carry 14 slings ?!
The six 12": almost always
The six 24": may carry less, but depends if I need them or not
The two 48": usually one, sometimes both

It all really depends on the climb. If I don't know if I'll need them then I'd rather take them and not need them than not have them and really need them.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Trad Climbing
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