The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) has recently issued a poster called Check Or Deck the aim of this is to promotion the safety of climbing. As you can see from the poster the idea is to get the climbers to check all there equipment before they climb. In this piece of work I shall describe briefly all the aids that a leader climbing requires to lead climbs.

ROPES

The first ropes were of natural fibres (hemp, manilla ). Their low energy-absorbing characteristics meant security was more psychological then real( hence ‘the leader must not fall’). After World war 2 nylon ropes became generally available. They were of a hawser laid construction, but they tended to kink and stretch and spin when hung on. It was not till the 1950’s that the first modern climbing ropes came about, this were a kernmantle construction in which a braided sheath surrounds more loosely laid bundles of fibres. These ropes are of dyminic type which means they stretch, when the leader falls to about 1/3+ of there length. Ropes are designed

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The core of a rope is white for two reasons, firstly the dying of fibres produces some strength loss. Secondly the sheath is coloured it makes the rope easier to see and secondly any cuts in the sheath become more obvious as the white core shows through.

HELMETS

Helmets are a compromise between size and weight. The ideal helmet is light, strong and comfortable, with a chin strap which prevents the helmet being pushed back off the forehead in a fall. Helmets come in two types and have there own draw backs with each type:

* Fibreglass: helmets absorb energy by the breaking of the shell.

* Plastic: helmets absorb less energy themselves, but transfer the energy to the cradle which stretches.

SLINGS

Although the sling was one of the first pieces of protection, today it is still invaluable in some situations. They can be draped over spikes and flakes, threaded through holes and round chock stones, attached to trees and bushes. Slings are made of tape from about 15mm-25mm wide and are of either flat or tubular construction. This is made in to a circle with either a tape knot or sewn to make the protection.

EXTENDERS

These are made of the same construction as slings and are used to reduce rope drag and to act as a shock absorbers for the protection in the rock. They have a karabiner (Crab) at each end which attach to the rope and protection while climbing.

KARABINERS

This is how the modern climber attaches him/her self to the rope. They come in four types:

* Normal : steel construction and heavy

* Light Weight : aluminium alloy construction

* Locking : any off the above

* Snap lock: aluminium alloy construction

Karabiners come in five main shapes these are:

Oval

D-shape

Off-set D

Pear-shaped

Bent gate karabiners

Locking karabiners work by a screw collar locking across the gate.

NUTS

These are shaped pieces of aluminium with concave and convex sides which are wedged in cracks, with as much contact as possible to the rock. They come in a range of sizes on wire or rope.

HEXCENTRIC

These are placed very similar to nuts, but come in a larger size starting mid range in nuts and being twice the size as the largest nut on the market. They also come on wire or rope.

FRIENDS

Best know and most popular camming device. Consisting of 4 independently sprung cams on an axle attached to a stem. Each cam has a constant angle curve, which means it is in contact with the rock at the same angle wherever it touches, the two on each side provide the stability.

HARNESSES

A harness generally consists of a wide waist belt, which may be padded for comfort, and two leg loops. The majority of waist belts are adjustable for size, thought not all leg loops are. The leg loops can be connected, or separate so that the belt can be use on it’s own. Some can be fastened in to place, others have to be step into. Some use rope for closure, others have a buckle or tape system to fasten the harness. As with all the equipment you need to read what ever information comes with it. This will tell you how to tie in to your harnesses

KNOTS

There are lots of knots used in climbing and they are multipurpose in there roles. The two main knots are the figure of eight and bowline as these can be used to tie you to your harness.

ROCKBOOTS

In the 1930’s the first modern rock boot was designed by Pierre Allen and Emil Bordenau. These were tight fitting boots of canvas and leather with a thin, smooth rubber sole which could be flexed for maximum rock/rubber. The next big change in boot’s was the Fire Rock boot from Spain in the 80’s, it used superior butyl rubber instead of the earlier hard carbon rubber.

BELAY PLATES

Belay plates are simple and light way off controlling the rope. They work by pushing a bight of rope through the plate or tube and clipping into a locking karabiner. This is attached to a load-bearing part of harness see below how to belay.

LINKING IT ALL TOGETHER TO LEAD CLIMB

The leader before he/she starts the climb should understand how all their equipment works which I have said earlier in brief, but this is a very large subject and can not be covered in 1200 words. So having learned how to use the equipment and read how to tie into your harness and where, you are now ready to climb. First read a guide book to find a route that is suitable for you and your second (the person coming up after the leader) the grades go from moderate (easy) E10 (hard) these gave you an idea at how much protection there is likely to be on the route. There is also a technical grade which goes from 4a up to 7b this is to tell you how hard the moves are on the climb. This changes though from country to country as there is no fixed grading system in climbing.

After all this has been sorted out the leader then works out how much equipment he/she is going to need for the climb and places this on there accessory racks on there harness. The leader then ties on to the rope with a knot and the second clips in to the belay plate. The leader then moves up the rock face placing one piece off protection every 6-10 feet, to this the extender is clipped and then on to the rope. This will provided the protection is placed correctly the leader from hitting the ground he/she should continue up the rock face on till they reach the top. Once at the top the leader has to place protection call anchors. This is so that the leader can belay the second these should be able to take a fall from any direction this is normally up or down but can be horizontally. This has only being talked about in brief as there are lots of ways to tie off the stance

As for the BMC poster the message is check or deck, this means that the climber is more likely to fall and hurt him/her self because of not checking buckles and incorrect use of equipment. This can be reduced by taking time to read all information available about the sport and going on rock climbing course which are run all year round. In this piece of work I have been brief and to the point, I have left information like weight limits for the gear used out, because of the length and detail require to cover this subject. The gear in short will hold the weight of a family car when used properly, when climbing most accidents happed due to human error than gear failure.

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