Carabiners in protection

Nowadays in rock climbing the so-called quickdraw is used for clipping rope to intermediate protection points. This term denotes a webbing runner sewn in such a way that small loops are formed on either end for clipping carabiners, whereas the carabiners are sometimes fastened to the webbing of the quickdraw with a small rubber band so that the carabiners will not be able to shift imperceptibly in the loops of webbing. Quickdraws are used so the sling can adapt well to the movements of the rope due to its elasticity, and thereby these movements will only minimally transfer to the actual protection device placed in the rock, which is beneficial above all when using temporary points of protection (e.g. chocks), as these are more loosely fixed in the rock and are thereby at risk of falling out by themselves due to rope movement. The first, top carabiner on the quickdraw is clipped into the intermediate protection and the rope is inserted into the second, bottom carabiner.

In order for the rope to be easily inserted into the lower carabiner of the quickdraw, these carabiners tend to be equipped with a gate bent inward. Of course, you pay for the comfort you gain when inserting the rope with the threat of danger. Carabiners with bent gates are at risk of spontaneous allowing the rope to slip when catching a fall. This danger can be eliminated for the most part by properly threading the rope through the carabiner.

Risk of the rope slipping from the carabiner when the leader falls.

Risk of the rope slipping from the carabiner when the leader falls.

If the protection device of the intermediate protection is of such character that it requires the placement of the carabiner of the quickdraw flat against the rock (as is the case with the majority of bolts), you have to pay careful attention to make sure that the rope is threaded into the carabiner from below in the back, and from above in the front. On a traverse, which is an advance through climbing terrain in a horizontal direction, you should first of all position the gate of the carabiner in the opposite direction from the advance, and once again thread the rope through the carabiner from back to front. These measures place the rope into such a position in relation to the carabiner where the danger of the rope slipping from the bottom carabiner of the quickdraw is reduced.

Quickdraw flat against the rock: the rope must be threaded through the bottom carabiner of the quickdraw from below and behind.

Quickdraw flat against the rock: the rope must be threaded through the bottom carabiner of the quickdraw from below and behind.

Quickdraw flat against the rock: If twisting of the quickdraw runner occurs, it is the result of the rope being incorrectly clipped to the bottom carabiner.

Quickdraw flat against the rock: If twisting of the quickdraw runner occurs, it is the result of the rope being incorrectly clipped to the bottom carabiner.

Quickdraw flat against the rock: here the correct example on an artificial climbing wall with a fixed quickdraw – the rope leads from below and behind, and from above and front.

Quickdraw flat against the rock: here the correct example on an artificial climbing wall with a fixed quickdraw – the rope leads from below and behind, and from above and front.

When using a protection device in your intermediate protection of such a character that it required the positioning of the carabiners of the quickdraw upright in relation to the rock surface (this is typical with face rings), it makes no difference how you thread the rope through the carabiner when climbing along the line of fall, i.e. from the left or from right – it is always disadvantageous. During an advance in a traverse, however, as a rule you should thread rope through a carabiner placed upright against the rock in the same direction as your climb.

Another option for preventing spontaneous slipping of the rope from the lower carabiner in a quickdraw is to overturn the bottom carabiner 180° such that the gate side of the carabiner is down and the spine side of the carabiner is up. Of course, in order to do this, the carabiner must not be fixed to the quickdraw runner using a rubber band. On the other hand, if your carabiner is not fixed to a webbing quickdraw with a rubber band, there is a risk that the carabiner will shift itself into a position in which it will be loaded crosswise. Moreover, the manoeuvre of turning the carabiner while climbing is inconvenient, particularly in a harder ascent when a person needs to promptly clip a quickdraw and crawl onward. When climbing a simpler ascent, when the climber is calm, it is then a question of whether it might not be better to use a carabiner with a gate lock.

Video: This is one of the solutions for preventing spontaneous slipping of the rope from the carabiner during a fall. It is necessary to take into consideration other consequences of this solution.

More in e-book.

Title Part 3Mountaineering Methodology – Part 3 – Belaying and Rappelling

ISBN 978-80-87715-09-3

MMPublishing, 2013

Available for download from Apple iTunes (in the Books section).

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Another possibility is Google Play. This version is a simplified (as PDF).

Title Part 3 GPMountaineering Methodology – Part 3 – Belaying and Rappelling

ISBN 978-80-87715-14-7

MMPublishing, 2014

Available for download from Google Play.