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Off Belay: How to Store Rock Climbing Gear

Krista Diamond | November 7, 2017 @ 9:00 AM

If you store your rock climbing gear correctly, it can literally take you to great heights for years to come. Yes, your hard work inside at the climbing gym and outside at nature’s gym is largely responsible for your ability to conquer that multi-pitch sport route, but you’ve got to give some credit to your climbing gear too.

From the sticky rubber of your climbing shoes that helps you rely on the tiniest foothold to the rope that catches your fall, your rock climbing gear puts in serious work. To keep it working for you and not against you, it’s up to your to store it the right way. Here’s the beta on exactly how to do that.

Climbing Shoes

Depending on your preferred style of rock climbing, you may not own every piece of climbing gear. But you definitely own climbing shoes.

Before storing your climbing shoes, wipe any excess dirt, rocks and sand off of them. If the soles look significantly worn, contact the manufacturer or a professional climbing shoe resoler about fixing them up. Next, pop them in a delicate laundry bag and stick them in the washing machine on cold with a small amount of gentle detergent. Do not use fabric softener. Air dry.

Store in the box they came in or in a breathable cotton bag.

Climbing Rope

Everyone has heard a horror story about a climbing friend who brings a seriously old or frayed rope to the crag. Nobody wants to actually be that friend.

Avoid the disaster of a shoddy rope by storing it with the specific needs of this crucial piece of equipment in mind. Climbing rope is made of nylon, which is sensitive to high temperatures, so a storage unit with climate control is a must. The nylon material can also be degraded by dirt, oil and sharp objects, so be sure to choose a storage facility with a reputation for cleanliness and diligent pest control. Never store the climbing rope near an object that could cut or pinch it.

Before storing your climbing rope, inspect it for damage. Check every inch of the rope for cuts or sections that don’t feel firm. If there is damage towards the end of the rope, trim it by cutting one foot above the damage and then solidifying the new end by melting it with a lighter. Very old or damaged rope should be discarded.

Wash the rope by hand in warm water with a very small amount of dish soap. Rinse until the water runs clean. Hang to dry.

Store your climbing rope by coiling it in the rope bag you use to transport it.

Carabiners and Other Hardware

Unlike other climbing gear, metal carabiners and other hardware like cams and quickdraws isn’t especially susceptible to damage. But nonetheless it still needs to be carefully inspected and cleaned before storage.

Inspecting is easy. Just give these items a once over and discard if there’s any obvious damage.

To clean, soak in hot water for five minutes. Scrub with a toothbrush and let dry. Use canned air to remove fine dirt from the little spaces. If a carabiner, cam or quickdraw sticks when you open and close it, use a small amount of cam lube.

Chalk Bag

To clean or not to clean? That’s up to you. If you’re storing your chalk bag in self storage long term, it’s best to address its hygiene.

Turn the chalk bag inside-out and hand wash with warm water and mild detergent. Air dry.

Store chalk separately.

Climbing Harness

How long have you had your climbing harness? Just because it still fits doesn’t mean it’s still good to go. The average climbing harness lasts between five and ten years depending on use. Climb every day? It may not even last five years. Did you just have a major fall? It may be more damaged than you realize.

Before you even think about storing your climbing harness, ask yourself how long you’ve had it, how often you climb and how many major falls it’s been through. This is good advice for any piece of climbing gear as well as outdoor equipment in general.

Rinse the harness with warm water and let air dry. Store it in the bag it came in in a cool, dark, dry place. Hey! That’s your storage unit!

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