Tech Tip – Trad – Salvation on a biner
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Cold, tired, and more than a little bit frustrated, you finally locate the rap anchor’s tangled slings. For the thousandth time, you curse yourself for leaving that brand-new micro headlamp in your pack at the base. You hear the echoes of your buddies’ taunts — “When you climb with (fill in name here), bring a headlamp.” But who could have guessed this afternoon romp would turn into a falling-darkness epic? Your Braille assessment of the anchor leads you to believe there are two bolts and a fixed pin, connected by an undetermined number of runners. There are no rap rings, so you’re not sure precisely where to feed the rope. Additionally, the darkness has you wondering about the condition of those runners. Your partner arrives alongside, and from the back of her harness produces a keyring LED. The tiny beacon offers all the light you need to inspect your anchor, and feed the rope through properly. Thank goodness! In the interest of traveling light and fast, not to mention our rush to get out the door, we often neglect to carry a few pieces of gear that could keep a minor inconvenience from becoming a major epic. Why not carry several small essentials with you all the time? A just-in-case biner loaded with a few lightweight essentials can save you a headache — or worse — down the road. A good starting point for this emergency kit includes a keyring LED, a tiny, folding pocketknife, descending rings or quick links, and one or two short 5mm prusik slings. The keyring LED serves well for inspecting anchors after dark or collecting gear left on the ground near your pack. For the knife, a Spyderco Ladybug knife weighs in at a scant .5 ounces, and cuts old runners with ease. The prusiks, when tied off short, serve as rappel back-ups and rope ascenders. The descending rings are available for anchoring rappels — quick links or lap links are best, as you can ring the rappel slings without having to untie them. The carabiner itself should be full strength so you can use it for any purpose. You can use a lightweight wiregate or a beefy locker, depending on your preference. Climbing is, to a large degree, dealing with whatever comes up. A just-in-case biner can provide the tools to give you a head, rather than heady, start.