It’s looking like our rack and ropes have been spending some time in storage (commence  21 gun salute), but what does that mean for our gear? 

Climbers have always been the tidiest and cleanest of people, with tip top hygiene… Now that was a bold faced lie, traditionally climbers stink, not as people, just in odor and green toe nails. With a love for camping and living ruff, if it’s good fun and it gets us the send climbers are happy pappys! 

For those many climbers who have never packed there gear away except from stuffed in there packs ready for the morrow, it may be shocking to know if you leave the gear like that for prolonged time you risk damaging it.

Now if you don’t have a rope nows the time to get one, a Mammut eternity rope is a great starter rope for indoor wall users and if you get a 60 meter one it will get you on to your first sport crags to!

So how do you store gear properly? First your rope, coil it, properly. There are multiple ways to coil a rope, some are very useful for different situations like descending a crag where you can wear the rope like a secure back pack leaving your hands free for scrambling. Other techniques are great for walking in to the crag without having to pack the rope in your pack like a mountaineers coils. Chances are you’ll know one coiling technique, so why not use this time to learn some more!

For storage, any coiling technique should work, just make sure not to tie any knots in the rope and it’s best to leave the rope lying down on the floor resting it, so it’s not stretching under its own weight. Keep it away from excess heat, UV rays and corrosive liquids, dirt and damp and you should have a happy rope for when you next use it. 

Now for one bonus tip, wash your rope before you put it away! Washing your rope improves handling, reduces the weight of your dirt filled rope and makes it nice and stretchy, like back when it was new. I do this by daisy chaining your my rope, making sure my washing machine is free of debris and and other chemicals (give that detergent drawer is chemical free), bleach and some other house hold chemicals could kill your rope so rinse your machine if your not sure what you’ve used in your last few washes. Use the gentle program for wool, 30C max (do not spin dry!). Rinse thoroughly, uncoil as much as possible and leave to dry in the shade.

You can also clean dirty ropes by hand in the bathtub with in lukewarm water. Do not tumble dry and avoid heaters and direct sunlight. I use a mild synthetic detergent like Nickwax or soap flakes.

For your rack take this time to sort it so you can rack up super fast and get an extra climb in next time you go out! Get a 60cm loop of cord and load your gear on it as you were to take it off your harness, so if you were to loop it over your head or a branch you can take gear off one by one in the right order to scale the rock you face. Make sure wires aren’t bunched or threaded though each other, wires bend an this makes them hard to use and can ruin them. Keep your rack away from excess heat, UV rays and corrosive liquids, dirt and damp this keeps materials like dogbones, slings and cords from deteriorating and metal work free from rust.

Tip,  mark up your gear properly, you’ve got time! The best method by far is using model paint or even nail polish get two colours and pop a dab of each next to each other on metal only in an area that doesn’t revive wear, like the neck of a wire, just beneath the nut. If your carabiner has a brand name moulded to it the paint will last even longer dabbed here. Using two dots of paint (different colours) means you will have unique kit and hopefully avoid mixing your kit up with a friend and in the traditional everybody uses black tape scenario that sees you loosing half your nuts.

Now don’t forget your climbing shoes, these little bacterial havens will love being left all damp in your bag.. Wash them to you minger! Smell means bacteria, enjoy that fact. Simply pop them in warm soapy water your hands don’t burn in and give them a wash out. Don’t dry them on direct heat or you risk melting the glue inside then ruining your shoes, but I am an advocated of leaving them in the sun if before the wash they smelt like a blocked toilet at a Nando’s caught fire..

After the wash spray them with a shoe deodorant or if you lack and a deodorant pop some newspaper in them to save there shape, pop them in a shoe box them some them some place dry.

Next you could wash you lucky climbing top, but I’ll let you figure out that hurdle! 

Stay safe and happy, 

Ambleside wall

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