Climbing Tech Tips
Cheap aid — knotting your own aiders and daisy chains
Enough with the sport climbs and boulder problems — you want a new rush, you want to start aid climbing! If you’ve got a standard rack of cams and nuts, you’re ready to roll. The only aid-specific gear you’ll need before launching up your first pitch of C1 are aiders and daisy chains.
One problem, though: You’re as broke as a hobo, and a set of four sewn aiders and two daisy chains are going to set you back at least $120 at the gear shop. Ouch!
Rather than cook your cash on those fancy sewn jobs (and given that you may end up loathing the monotony and heavy workloads involved with aiding), craft your own aiders and daisies for a fraction of the cost, and in less than an hour.
First, scoot down to the gear shop and buy four 20-foot sections of one-inch flat webbing and four 10-foot sections of 9/16 tubular webbing. Your total outlay should be less than $35. Out on the rock, the aiders and daisies you’ll make from this webbing will inevitably end up in a confusing mess, so be sure to buy a different color for each section.
Now kick back at home and get comfy — it’s knot-tying time! First you’ll tie the aiders using a Frost knot. Fold one tail of webbing 10 to 12 inches over the other, then make a simple overhand knot (figure 1). The small loop that is formed is the clip-in point.
Next up is tying the steps. This is why you use flat webbing — it gives the steps substance. Make the first step by tying an overhand knot in the loop one foot directly below the clip-in point. Here’s the cruxy part: Before cinching the knot tight, take one strand of the webbing and pull three inches or so of slack through the knot. This will give the loop a slight teardrop shape, which forms the step. Follow the same procedure for the other steps, alternating the side on which the loop goes (figure 2). Each 20-foot section of webbing should yield a five-step aider. It’s a touch tricky getting the steps the right length, so take your time, and redo the knots until the aider looks right.
The daisy chains are made the same way as the aiders, with two exceptions: The loops should be much smaller (but big enough to accept a couple of carabiners) and should all be tied on one side, not alternating like the aider. Make the final loop big enough to allow the daisy to be girth-hitched to your harness.
Finally, do not put your system to use until you’ve cinched the knots extremely tight. Over time the knots will weld themselves, but for the first few pitches, be sure to monitor them for slippage.