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I brought a couple of friends to Val-David, a crag near Montreal. They were both new to climbing. It started raining in the middle of the day, so we built a shelter with a hammock and some slings. When the clouds cleared, I put all my gear back on my harness, and we climbed a nice multipitch trad route. It was only when I reorganized my gear later that night that I realized what I’d done. I used a Therm-a-Rest carabiner that was clearly labeled “not for climbing” to anchor myself at a belay station. How did this happened? Simple: My friend took the hammock down and left the carabiner on a sling. I clipped it to my harness without noticing.
LESSON: I’m not going to tell you not to use carabiners that aren’t designed for climbing. You already know that. Plus, the carabiners have it printed on them, so it would be redundant. Instead, I will take a page from my AMGA friends. Whenever I ask a rock guide what to do in a particular situation, the answer is “don’t get in that situation in the first place.” In this scenario, that’s simple. Don’t bring carabiners to the crag that aren’t certified for climbing. Don’t carry your keys on a cheap carabiner with your college logo printed on it. Don’t hang your hammock on carabiners that are only rated to hold 200 lbs. Take all those carabiners, and replace them with real, climbing-certified carabiners. You can’t accidentally grab the wrong carabiner if every carabiner you bring is the right carabiner. Bonus: Now you have extra carabiners if you need them.
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