Quick Clips: 9 Quick Fixes for Common Climber Problems (Autumn 2020 Edition)

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Got a climbing hack for us?
Hit us up at letters@climbing.com. The person that submits the winning submission in our next issue will receive two 18cm Bulletproof Quickdraws and one 12cm Bulletproof Quickdraw from Edelrid. The Bulletproof draws feature a steel insert on the rope-side carabiner, which prevents premature wear from robe abrasion. (Only available within the US.)

“Cycling caps are perfect for climbing: They’re designed to be worn under a helmet. The bill is short so you can look up at the climb you’re on and it will still shield your eyes from the sun. And the bill flips up and down, so when you need to study the next sequence, you can just flip it out of your way.”

—Dan Schoo

For submitting our winning tip for this edition, Dan receives a 60m Swift Protect dynamic rope from Edelrid. 

“CROCS, flip-flops, thongs... Always take something for slipping on at base of routes.”

—Josh Jones

“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

Here’s a good solution for setting up a toprope with just one rope when the nearest suitable anchor is far from the cliff edge, e.g., 50’ back. First, anchor one end of the rope at the distant anchor, then move to the edge of the cliff, pulling the rope as you go. From a safe stance near the edge, pull on the rope from the anchor to remove slack and tie a figure eight on a bight to create a small loop that will hang just over the edge above the route to be climbed. Clip two locking biners to this loop. Flake the remaining rope out, then, starting with the free end of the rope, coil enough rope to reach the bottom of the cliff, toss it over, and clip it through the two biners hanging on the loop. Adjust the rope so that the free end barely reaches the ground, then drop the remaining rope over the edge.

system in use

There should now be three strands of rope reaching the base of the route: the free end for the climber to tie into, a strand for the belayer that passes up through the locking biners at the top and back down to the climber, and a third strand that descends from the figure 8 knot at the top of the cliff to the ground and then becomes the belayer strand. This third strand is unused during the climb and should be pulled aside to the extent possible, out of the way of the climber. The section of rope that runs over the cliff edge above the loop with the biners must be protected from abrasion with a small towel, rope protector, or section of old fire hose.

labeled illustration v2

There is a simple formula to help determine the length of climbing rope needed for a particular situation:

c = a + 3b

where c is the rope length, a is the distance from the cliff top/edge to the distant anchor, and b is the cliff’s height. For example, a 60-meter (196’) rope would be long enough to toprope a 55’ cliff with an anchor 30’ back from the edge, or a 40’ cliff with the anchor 75’ back from the edge. A 70’ cliff with an anchor 20’ back from the edge could be set up with a 70-meter (230’) rope. (Note: The amount of rope used in the knots is compensated for by the fact that the belay device and climber tie-in knot are at harness level, not ground level.)

—Robert Rittenhouse

I bring Crocs to the crag so I can wear my climbing shoes inside them while belaying, keeping my climbing shoes clean and saving time by not having to switch back and forth between my hiking shoes and climbing shoes.

—Michelle Johannsen


Use "Oral B Denture brushes" to brush holds. They have nice, stiff bristles, just the right size of brush, and are dirt cheap. Try it and you'll never go back.

—Joost Swetter


Always push yourself. Focus on your goals. Practice silent fluid movements. Scare yourself a little bit—it’s good for you. Ask questions. Be fierce. Never give up.

—A. Schlosser

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.


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