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Minor-est of minor gear placement tricks (trad nerds only)

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Forrest L. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 10

What minor details do you pay attention to when placing or what little tricks do you think you have over others?          (bonus for actually support it with science -yay)

I'm asking because I recently saw a comment about putting the wide-lobes down in a hortizontal cam placement to increase stability a little bit.  Cool

Artem Vasilyev · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 105

Stick the next cam you'll need into your mouth before you head into a sequence of hard moves. Super useful if you need body tension and a quick placement in a particular section.

SeƱor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Not sure it's a trick but after doing it the dumb way for a long time I finally figured out to place gear, clip the rope to the racking biner, relax because I'm now on TR and THEN mess around with extending the placement. Don't know why it took my so long to realize this. Spent way too many pumped moments fiddling with alpine draws worried that I was going to peel off before I finally clipped it. 

Rob WardenSpaceLizard · · las Vegans, the cosmic void · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 115

I take pictures of the rack i wish i had  when i get back to the gound

Stiles · · the Mountains · Joined May 2003 · Points: 840

The wide part down should be common sense, Forest. It would be good for your trad climbing if you started aid climbing a bunch.  And the cool thing about that is, you can aid lead solo.

And all you need to belay is a clove hitch. 

Kristian Solem · · Monrovia, CA · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 390

Have the way you rack your gear, be it harness or sling or both, science'd out. For example stoppers 1-5 on a 'biner, 6-8 on the next, 9&10 on the third. Get a system for all this that works for you and stick with it. When you eyeball a placement, you need to know where that piece is on your rack.

When you're up looking at a cruxy part, place more than one piece before you enter the hard part. Double them up. If you set off into a cruxy section where it's hard to place gear, and you only have one piece below you odds are you'll get gripped, and you'll stop in the middle of the hard moves looking desperately for pro. This goes one of three ways; you get the gear in and pull off  the moves. Hooray. Or you'll get the gear and take. Bummer. Or you'll get the gear and fall trying to clip it. Yikes. Unlike connecting the dots on a bolted climb, traditional climbing requires strategy.

They mentioned the placement of a cam in a horizontal, with the wider cams down. That's good unless something about the way it fits tells you otherwise. A good rule of thumb though. But this difference in width, one side of the cam from the other, can be very important placing cams in any orientation. Many times you will be fiddling around, dissatisfied with a placement when if you flip the cam around 180 you say "Bomber!" With experience you'll usually see which orientation will work best right off the bat. Of course the same is true with curved stoppers.

JaredG · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 1
Artem Vasilyev wrote: Stick the next cam you'll need into your mouth before you head into a sequence of hard moves. Super useful if you need body tension and a quick placement in a particular section.

Always thought this would be a good way to drop a cam.  Another option is to clip your next cam to the rope (with a trad draw) before you start the sequence.  

Zay Ban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2019 · Points: 5

Probably the biggest kung fu ive learned is to know your rack, kinda on the same point the ither user said. Know where your gear is in your harness. Knoxk what size fits what crack (most important point).

You want to be able to look at a crack and say "A blue totem (or whatever) would be perfect right there." And then know exactly where on your harness that piece is.

I still see a lot of leaders stop, look at the crack, look at their harness, lift up like four cams, look back at the crack, look back at their gear, pick a cam, place it, get it wrong, re-rack the piece... thats a lot of time and stress to be hanging off a jam, or standing on your tippy toes with elvis leg.

Also, call me crazy since i seem to be the only guy that does this... but i like to rack my gear so that bigger pieces are towards the front, as im usually climbing less-than-vertical stuff. When i used to do it bigger-towards-the-back, the bigger pieces would often try to flop over the smaller ones, and thay can get annoying real quick. I suppose if I ever spend a lot of time climbing overhanging stuff, id flip the assortment.

Fran M · · Germany · Joined Feb 2019 · Points: 0

What I am trying to stick to:

Make placements as textbook like as possible. (Textbook: manufacturer instructions)

Once the rope is clipped, no more fumbling with that piece. Move on or place another one.

Decide what goes on each of the 4 gear loops of the harness and do it the same way every time.

Nick Niebuhr · · Asheville · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 465

This one seems like a no brainer to me but it didn't until I learned it. If you're doubling up (or triple, quad, etc.) cam sizes on your harness, clip one to the harness and the rest of that size to the one on the harness. Saves lots of space on your gear loops. I also think having colour coded biners is huge, all you have to do is take a quick look down at the biner on your gear loop instead of leafing through cams. I have some Metolius cams that get biners of whatever BD colour they're closest in size to.

climber pat · · Las Cruces NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 286

Cams are not symmetrical turning a cam over may result in a better placement.  In one orientation the outside cam faces up, in the other orientation the outside cam faces down. 

Daniel Joder · · Barcelona, ES · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

Kristian mentioned doubling up the pro before the crux—great suggestion. I’m getting a bit long in years these days and I fear injury and death so I will also double up pro if I see that the failure of the one piece would lead to a ground fall, a long-ugly-bouncy fall, hitting a ledge, etc. This includes backing up old fixed pins or even older bolts with a second piece if I can, just in case. I’ll do this even on easier ground sometimes (what if a hold breaks?) I guess I’m a scaredy-cat.

Chris Jones · · NC · Joined May 2018 · Points: 135

More gear management than placement i guess but here goes: For longer pitches, stop a few times to groom your rack.  Move things around based on what you are going to need next.  instead of doubles on one side as you head into a move put one on each side with the draw right next to them.  Going into a dihedral with obvious feet on one side and body skuzzz on the other: rack the gear you'll need on the non-skuzz side.  Here comes the wide section, time to bust out that #5 you have dangling from your haul loop.  Get it ready when you have a stance.  

John Bosco · · Raleigh, NC · Joined May 2013 · Points: 0

You don't have to do the boulder start with the whole rack on your harness.

Kent Pease · · Littleton, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 785

Keying in nuts behind, and sometimes down, from a construction. I think I've developed a keen eye for these placements and there's extra satisfaction when I find one. Yea, it's good in theory but I've seen many many leaders pass up such locations, instead using a less-secure nearby placement that can rotate out.

Kent Pease · · Littleton, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 785

Saving the "predominant" size for higher on a route and instead use "off" (smaller or larger) sizes when you can. This is especially important at areas like Indian Creek where you may need a bunch of pieces at a given size but have a limited rack. It's also useful on long climbs where different pitches may each have a predominat size but it's not practical to bring a "comfortable" rack for all the pitches.

Kent Pease · · Littleton, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 785

Using supplemental cracks, such as a crack inside a chimney or a thin crack for pro next to a wide crack.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,620
Forrest L. wrote: What minor details do you pay attention to when placing or what little tricks do you think you have over others?          (bonus for actually support it with science -yay)

I'm asking because I recently saw a comment about putting the wide-lobes down in a hortizontal cam placement to increase stability a little bit.  Cool

Lobes up or down won't make a significant difference to increase "stability". It could change the security of the placement based on the rock around it though. Eg if a placement is more oval shaped.

Mark Pilate · · MN · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 10
Tradiban wrote:

Lobes up or down won't make a significant difference to increase "stability". It could change the security of the placement based on the rock around it though. Eg if a placement is more oval shaped.

Tradiban is correct here.  The minor gravitational effects on the “stability” are insignificant compared to the spring forces on the lobes.  The shape/geometry of the slot is the governing factor 

and Tradi forgot to remind you to ALWAYS extend with a sling.  The longer the better!   Lol.  
Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,936
Mark Pilate wrote:

Tradiban is correct here.  The minor gravitational effects on the “stability” are insignificant compared to the spring forces on the lobes.  The shape/geometry of the slot is the governing factor 

and Tradi forgot to remind you to ALWAYS extend with a sling.  The longer the better!   Lol.  

Even more important than the bit about gravity... it's physically impossible for a cam in a horizontal to tip over. So any consideration re. "stability" is BS. Place it the way it best fits and/or takes advantage of little irregularities to hold the lobes. Especially important with small cams.

Toss "wide lobes down" into the trash along with no metal on metal, microfractures, and nylon shelf life.
Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,936

Not a trick, just basic know-how: cams work best in parallel(ish) cracks. If there's a pronounced taper to the crack, go with passive gear. We all know cams can open up if they walk into a wider part of the crack, but some folks still get a "cam fixation" and place them where they are inappropriate, Here's a screenshot from a recent video:

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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