Longer quickdraws can reduce rope
drag by changing the angle made by the rope
at the attachment. Shorter quickdraws reduce the length of a potential fall to a shorter distance below the bolt. A shorter length also keeps the rope carabiner
more steady while clipping in the rope.
Parts of a Quickdraw
'Standard' quickdraws, which are typically used for sport climbing, include three main parts. The following names refer to the image (below).
The Dog Bone (2)
Dog Bones are made out of webbing.
They come in many different lengths (typically between three and seven inches). A longer quickdraw reduces rope
drag, while a shorter quickdraw reduces the length that you will fall.
Dog Bones typically have a tighter side and a looser side (where the carabiner
is attached to the dog bone). Generally you clip the straight-gate carabiner
to the looser side and the bent-gate carabiner
to the tighter side. By making one side loose the quickdraw can easily pivot reducing rope
drag. You clip the straight-gate carabiner
to one of your gear loops
on your harness
and leave the bent-gate carabiner
hanging. Therefore if you placed the bent-gate on the loose end of the dog bone you risk having the bent gate
flip upside down. This can make an exciting clip become terrifying in a hurry (it will take you much longer to clip the rope
Trad climbers generally use runners
to create extendable runners. Extendable runners
permit you to minimize both rope
drag and force on your protection
'Back clipping' is one of the most important safety concerns to understand when sport climbing. 'Back clipping' refers to an incorrect means of attaching a quickdraw to a climbing rope
(slang: clipping). The direction you attach the quickdraw to the rope
is very important.
Incorrect ('back clipping') clipping technique is shown below. Notice that the rope
behind the carabiner
goes to the climber and the rope
in front goes to the belayer. Back clipping can lead to the rope
disconnecting from the carabiner
during a fall.
Direction of Carabiners
The 'standard' method of clipping your carabiners
to the dog bone is having both carabiners
facing the same direction. The direction that you clip your carabiners
to the dog bone is a matter of personal preference. By having the carabiners
face opposite directions, you actually use the same direction to clip the rope
Clipping Bolts Efficiently
Many climbers use more energy clipping bolts
than climbing. Though it may be tempting to clip a bolt as soon as possible it is often safer and more efficient to clip bolts
when they are close to your waist. Try to find a good hold to hang off of when clipping bolts.
Practice clipping bolts
so you get used to the clipping motion. You want to practice clipping the rope
with both hands and in both directions.
Logic: When bolts
are higher than your head, you have to pull out a significant amount of rope
(two times the length from your harness
to the bolt) to successfully clip the rope.
If you fall after pulling out that amount of rope,
you will fall considerably lower than you would if you fell with your waist at the bolt. By waiting to clip when your waist is close to the bolt you minimize the amount of rope
you have to pull up, decrease your fall potential and decrease the amount of time it takes to clip.
There are numerous different tactics used when clipping ropes, but the following technique works well in most situations. This technique involves 'pinching' the carabiner.
Place your thumb on the backbone of the carabiner
and pinch the rope
against the gate of the carabiner
with your remaining fingers. By squeezing you will force the rope
to drop into the carabiner.
Once mastered, this technique can be conducted in under a second.