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Monday Gear Hacks: Make a Hand-Jam Machine, an Easier Device Thread, Gear Marker and More

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This is a hack that helps with a smooth rappel setup and is especially helpful for long and double-rope raps. One of the trickiest parts of long rappels is pulling up the weight of the rope to thread into one’s rappel device while worrying about the weight pulling the device down and out of your hands, potentially leading to a dropped device. If you’re rapping with two 70m ropes, the combined weight of the ropes can easily be over 15 pounds—a fair bit to manage when threading a device.

(Photo: Benjamin Wollant)

To avoid the risk of dropping a device, put your prusik (or other backup) on the rope before threading your rappel device and pull up a large amount of slack above the prusik. Now, the weight of the ropes will be held up by your prusik and you can easily thread the slack above the prusik into your rappel device without needing to wrestle the weight of the ropes below.

Note: The pictures don’t do full justice as they are from an artificial setup, but this hack really works and served me well for nearly a dozen double-rope rappels from El Cap Tower. Try it out!

—Benjamin Wollant

“Mark your hardware with nail polish in a low-heat spot. It’s easier to find a unique color combination or pattern than using tape, and it doesn’t come undone!”

—James DeGree

“Standing at the bottom of a route and talking about it usually goes like this: ‘…the pinch on the right—no, not that one. The one just above the tiny foothold, above the fifth quickdraw…,’ leading to confusion and misunderstanding. The easy fix: Bring a (green) laser pointer to the crag, which will make calling out holds as easy as pie.”

—Silas Flöter

After a big day of climbing or even after a pumpy route/pitch, I’ll put my forearms behind my knees and squat. The compression not only feels good but helps to release the pump. After a few seconds, I’ll stand up and shift to target another part of my forearms, and then squat again. Sometimes, I’ll even do this on-route.
—Matt Moy, MD, MPH

My quick tip for hand-jam training if your gym doesn’t have fancy crack volumes or if it seems to rain all the time (as it often does where I live, in England) and you can’t get to the crag: Buy a couple of cheap chopping boards and four large coach bolts, and you’ve got yourself an adjustable crack box that you can hang wherever you keep your hangboard!
—Henry Barrett

(Photo: Henry Barrett)

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