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How often do you drop gear?

Original Post
Sam Skovgaard · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0
  • I just dropped (and lost) my first piece of gear.  I had 5 large nuts racked on a carabiner and as I was placing one, the weight of another one twisted open the gate spilling 2 of them off.  I caught one with my foot but the other went sailing into the brush from high on the second pitch, attempts to find it were unsuccessful. 
  • I guess the lesson learned was be more careful when isolating one nut on a racking biner; let the other ones settle and hang down properly before placing and tugging the nut to set it.
  • What are some other situations where you have dropped gear and little lessons you have learned so that you don't do it again?
skik2000 · · Boulder · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 5

I did the same thing last summer in Eldo.  I had a biner with some DMM offsets and BD stoppers.  Of course the offsets were the ones that fell off.

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,734
Sam Skovgaard wrote:
  • What are some other situations where you have dropped gear and little lessons you have learned so that you don't do it again?

Though I haven't lost anything yet, I've dropped a couple times.  One time it was from loading up the front loop so much that it was too crowded.  A biner from a small cam- I suspect because the cam was so light, was only partially clipped and because it was the lightest thing, it just got pushed off the gear loop from all the other shit on there around it.  That was the most recent one- last year some time.  I've found to mitigate that, I've learned to place and take less gear with me, actively searching for good stances and placements and being confident climbing in between them.  I also tend to distribute more on the rear loops instead of trying to cram everything on the front loops to make it more accessible- which often ends up having the opposite effect.

That kind of ties into the second reason I dropped gear- trying to place from a shitty, desperate stance.  I dropped a cam on purpose- and almost involuntarily (if those things can paradoxically exist in the same action) so that I could get my second hand back on the rock to prevent falling off.  Again, this is because I got too pumped, and didn't actively climb and focus on climbing until I got to a better stance.  Being comfortable falling on gear had a lot to do with it too.  If you're gripped and terrified of falling, you instinctively want to stop more often and place more gear, and that includes from sub-optimal stances.
Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 337

Things I’ve dropped and lost forever:

  • Cassin X-Light; probably being chewed up by Mt Hood’s Elliot Glacier as we speak 
  • BD Yellow Cam; btw free used cam at the bottom of Mt. Whitney’s east face!
  • GoPro Hero4; in the crater of El Altar
the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 110

Dropped my approach shoes off of broadway on the diamond. That was anxiety inducing :-).  Fortunately we found them at the end of the day after we did the raps. Would have been a long hike out in a pair of mocs. 

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 507

More often than I'd like to admit. I'm a bit of a butterfingers. What I've learned to do is to keep things clipped into either the rope or my gear sling whenever it's practical. When it isn't practical, I try to really focus my attention on holding onto it and making sure I have a visual or auditory confirmation that something is actually clipped into my gear loops or sling before I let go.

I've dropped everything- biners, cams, nuts, bolts, wrenches, flip flops, phone, you name it. I'm just thankful I've never dropped the rope. 

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 161

I accidentally unclipped my ATC on a multipitch and lost it when I was reaching for something else on lead.  Thankfully, it was my back-up device (yes, I carry a back-up on multipitch routes) so I could still belay.

Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,346

Do partners count as gear?

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0
Matt Himmelstein wrote: I accidentally unclipped my ATC on a multipitch and lost it when I was reaching for something else on lead.  Thankfully, it was my back-up device (yes, I carry a back-up on multipitch routes) so I could still belay.


Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 1,030

I once dropped the entire set of nuts. It was cold, my fingers were numb, I reached for the 'biner that had 10 nuts on them, unclipped it off my harness, and dropped the whole thing. it was at the Gunks, the nuts missed my belayer ,and were easily located on the ground. But I really needed one of them! Didn't have a cam or anything else that would have fit in the same spot. Ended with a much bigger runout than I would have liked, but sent anyway.

I've dropped a quickdraw once, I think. And had a quickdraw and couple cams dropped on me (in my general vicinity, rather... yay for overhangs!).

I've dropped my belayer once, when a 'biner broke as I fell, he jumped to give a soft catch, and came crashing down when I didn't stop at the expected bolt... does that count?

Ryan Marsters · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 1,011

Plenty of times (but still relatively rare ). 

  • Most of the time, it's due to laziness in racking and separating pieces/draws on "easy" multipitch routes. If in a rush, I'll just clip everything everywhere in whatever state and not rearrange when launching off on the next pitch. Similar situation when back cleaning a piece on lead. It's worthwhile to take a moment to make sure everything is racked properly and not daisied to random items.
  • Grivel twin gates. While they aren't great for all-around use, I like pairing my belay device with one as locking is fool-proof and quick. Early on, I pulled one off my gear loop only to send my ATC tumbling a thousand feet into a crevasse somewhere. I've learned to make sure the ATC is positioned so that it doesn't unclip.
  • Overloaded gear loops in chimney/OW climbs. This scenario always baffles me, particularly when I don't realize something fell until my partner mentions it. I generally couldn't care less about gates in or out, but I'm trying to be consistent to see if one contributes to fewer random unclippings.
  • Racking similar protection to save gear loop space (e.g. clipping a yellow cam to another yellow cam's racking biner). I've pulled the wrong piece and had to fumble around with the other while fighting the pump.
  • In general mountaineering, laziness/thoughtlessness led to a lot of dropped/wind blasted packs, bottles, water bottle parkas, gloves, and etc. early on.
  • I'm still a noob at mixed climbing, so I drop a tool pretty much every time out.
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526

I almost never drop anything, but I've watched, sometimes in horror, as equipment rains down from above.

A dropping theme I've noticed occurs when a biner full of nuts is racked on the harness with the gate out.  The biner has to be at least partially inverted to unclip from the harness loop, and if the climber hasn't got a good grip on all the nuts, those that are free slide off the gate, which necerssarily aims down at the moment the biner comes free from the harness loop.  

I'm a confirmed gear-sling racker, so this isn't an issue for me, but I'd suggest racking a biner loaded with nuts gate-in to minimize dropping potential.  But that probably means racking everything on that harness loop gate-in for consistency, which might be too much for dedicated gate-out rackers.

Another situation ripe for dropping occurs when a partner inexplicably takes a whole bunch of cleaned gear off its carabiners and just hands over a bunch of unsecured stuff.  I think of this as a total noob mistake, but am surprised to find people who surely should know better doing it as well. Along these lines, when handing over gear, don't try to place it in your partner's hands.  The two sets of moving hands might not collaborate as they should.  Hold the gear firmly and let your partner take it from you.

Rob Dillon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2002 · Points: 720

Turns out that ‘floater’ aider doesn’t actually float.

Ben Gleason · · Durango, CO · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 61

Almost never, but when I do it's like three things in a day.

Ashort · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 55

I used to lose nuts when I racked them on a wire gate, then someone let me know it's easier for the nuts to twist and open the wire gate than a solid gate. If you're racking nuts on a wire gate I'd suggest switching to a solid gate. 

Gavin W · · Langley, BC · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 181

A friend of mine once dropped an entire rack of X4 offsets behind the boot flake. For me, dropped gear usually means that I'm trying to place from a poor stance.

Dan Gozdz · · Louisville, CO · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 0
rgold wrote: Hold the gear firmly and let your partner take it from you.

Or clip it directly to your or your partner's leash to the anchor. 

I've only dropped one piece so far, and I was thinking on the way there about how I was doing well about never dropping stuff. I bumbled a #3 as I was getting ready to place it and it landed by my belayer. Before that I had a partner drop another of my cams after telling me how he'd never dropped a cam.
Redyns · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 80

there was a time when i'd drop a turd once a day.  now i'm more regular, so i drop them closer to two or three times.  

Cam Hook · · Portland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 85

My partner dropped our #6 C4 on pitch 15 of the Salathe Wall. The large piece was never found but we continued up.

Cortney LeNeave · · Golden, CO · Joined May 2015 · Points: 6

only happens to me (rarely) when my fingers are cold AF. My fine motor skills are diminished quickly when the temp drops. So focusing and looking at my hands fully accomplish things is crucial. 

abandon moderation · · Tahoe · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 138
Cam Hook wrote: My partner dropped our #6 C4 on pitch 15 of the Salathe Wall. The large piece was never found but we continued up.

The routes at the base make for cool cragging, but then I think about getting on the head with a #6 from 15 pitches up... At least my partner would get sweet booty.

A few times I've had biners and/or nuts come off my harness while thrashing up a chimney or offwidth. For some reason the belay device is the one that usually comes off. I've started locking all my locking biners before I squeeze into anything.

I usually don't fumble random gear, but I've definitely dropped a few from falling while trying to place a piece.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Trad Climbing
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