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When to clean gear?


Original Post
Y2kless Y2kless · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

Fairly new to climbing.  Been doing indoor for about a year. And still consider myself a newbie.  Have done a couple of outdoor top rope in North Carolina .   I do intend to take a lead climbing class in the gym in near future.  

However, I have a question about when is the gear cleaned when doing sports climbing?  Have googled this question for hours and no luck.  There is lots of material in the internet on how to.. but does not indicate when or who does it.  Is it the lead climber doing it after set anchor? Do the quickdraws stay there for the second climber(s) to use for their climbs and quickdraws are removed only by last climber?

Any knowledge shared is appreciated. 

Ben Williams · · van · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 35

I will clean after leading if the route is a good straight line with little or no overhang. 

When the route traverses and/or has overhung segments I will leave some if not all draws to provide directionals for the person TRing. This helps prevent pendulum swings and hanging in air.

** If you intend to pull the rope and have the second climber lead as well then either way works. But typically I will leave the draws on the anchor so I can be lowered and not have to deal with cleaning anchors**

Charlie F. · · Atlanta, Georgia · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 10

Ben summed it all up pretty well. The important thing to remember is that the quickdraws/slings at the anchor should stay in until the last person is ready to come down. You don't want to be toproping or lowering repeatedly off of the fixed gear at the anchor.

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 135

Do whatever you want, depending on the circumstances.

Is it easy to clean on your way down?  Do it that way. Does your second love or hate cleaning a route?  Is your second able to spend the energy cleaning a route?  Can your second clean it without dropping gear?  Are they going to cheat on the crux by going off route to the easier route next door and then can't pull the gear protecting the crux?

The only hard and fast "rule" is to protect a pendulum.  So if the route meanders, or if there is a big overhand, you generaly need to leave at least one directional to protect the later climbers (or let them get back on the wall) in case they come off low.  In general, I don't see a value (beyond protecting against that pendulum) in cleaning a sport route.  I find it generally harder to unclip than to clip, and since the protection is fixed, you are not learning anything by trying to clean gear.  On trad, the opposite is true.  There is a lot of value in cleaning gear placed by an experienced leader, or by cleaning and critiquing a newbie's placements.

Alvin Tham · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Charlie F. wrote:

Ben summed it all up pretty well. The important thing to remember is that the quickdraws/slings at the anchor should stay in until the last person is ready to come down. You don't want to be toproping or lowering repeatedly off of the fixed gear at the anchor.

Charlie is right. Having said that if you’re fixing SERENE cordelette anchor system you may not need to leave a quickdraw at the anchor. 

cyclestupor · · Woodland Park, Colorado · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 91
Alvin Tham wrote:

Charlie is right. Having said that if you’re fixing SERENE cordelette anchor system you may not need to leave a quickdraw at the anchor. 

Sure, but then you are leaving a cordelette and a few biners at the anchor instead.  So what's your point?

Charlie F. · · Atlanta, Georgia · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 10

Alvin and Cyclestupor - In the scenario I'm describing, the last person to climb would still lower/rap off the fixed anchor (rings or quicklinks). None of your gear would be left behind. The point I'm trying to make is that only the last climber should do this to avoid putting extensive wear on the fixed gear.

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

It depends on who you are climbing with and what type of route it is.

  • First person leads and second person cleans (sometimes depending on the route I may remove pieces to reduce drag for the second who cleans most of the route)
  • First person leads, rope gets pulled and draws are left, than second person leads and cleans during decent
  • If the route is really overhanging sometimes cleaning while being lowered is hard / near impossible (sometimes routes will even have perma biners / draws in place to help clean / not need to clean
  • If you have more than 2 people than any combination of leading / pulling / cleaning will work
Alvin Tham · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
cyclestupor wrote:

Sure, but then you are leaving a cordelette and a few biners at the anchor instead.  So what's your point?

My point is that the anchorshould also be roughly equalized, and bolts aren't always at the same level. Some anchors may have been put where they are 20 years ago - using draws as anchors rig may not even have been a thing for all I know. Your biner may fall on a weird rock angle and be cross-loaded. You do need to consider when setting an anchor IN GENERAL, especially if you're going to set an anchor where you have little to no control of where it falls.

You don't want the rope running over a sharp edge either - while I don't think you really could cut your rope doing that, it's certainly poor for the longevity of it and should still be a consideration.

When some newbie comes out of the gym a couple times, never really have learned things properly and picks up falsely confident advices like that..

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 124
Ben Williams wrote:

When the route traverses and/or has overhung segments I will leave some if not all draws to provide directionals for the person TRing. This helps prevent pendulum swings and hanging in air.

Ben is correct and probably knows what I'm about to say, but just as a note for the OP, make sure you think through what will happen to your follow in the case of a fall when doing this. It's not always the case that more draws is better. In some cases, the follower is safer if there are fewer pieces in. I craptastically illustrated an example:

Note that the long gentle swing is preferable to the short, sharp swing even if there aren't spikes, because the follower falls with less force and is left roughly on-route after the fall instead of a body-length below the route.

Also note that you want to leave in the two pieces before the fall: they protect against the fall into the spikes too. That is to say you want  to leave in some pieces and take out others.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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