Page 1










PRE-CLIP THE FIRST BOLT FOR A SAFER START Sport climbing is a relatively low-risk discipline because of the often-ample and pre-set protection, but falling before the first bolt onto uneven or rocky ground can lead to serious injury. Stick-clipping the first bolt, also known as using a stick setup to clip the roped-up draw from the ground, is a safe way to start a route, especially if the first moves are difficult (or if the bolt is uncomfortably high). Plus, it will give you peace of mind to try your hardest.

ONE Use 1 to 1.5 wraps of climbers’ tape

All you need is a long, sturdy stick and climbers’ tape. Find your stick at the base of the crag; it needs to be long enough to reach the first bolt. It should also be rigid enough to withstand the weight of a quickdraw and a few meters of rope. It helps to have at least one tall person in the group, as he or she will be able to reach higher.


Wedge gate open with a small twig or pebble Find a sturdy stick long enough to reach first bolt *Check out our video on stick-clipping at rock-climbing-basicshow-to-stick-clip.

Now affix the bolt-end carabiner to the stick. Align the side of the spine and the stick, and then wrap the stick and spine with the tape. Use just enough tape to hold the biner in place—one to 1.5 wraps should do it. Clip the rope into the rope-end biner and pull out enough rope on either side so it doesn’t fall through when you raise the stick. Pay attention to the rope’s orientation to avoid back-clipping—you want the climber’s end coming out through the carabiner, away from the wall.


This step isn't absolutely critical but makes a big difference: Find a small twig or pebble to prop open the carabiner’s gate. This will help you hook the bolt hanger easily with the nose of the biner, instead of trying to force the gate open with a stick from 15 feet away. Pre-clip the draw

Pull out enough rope so it doesn’t slip through when you raise the stick


With the setup complete, reach the stick up to the first bolt. Hook the bolt hanger, and give it a slight tug to knock the twig out and close the gate. Once you know the biner is fully closed and attached, give the stick a strong pull to free it from the tape and the biner. Ta-dah! You have a pre-clipped first bolt and will effectively be on toprope until you climb past it. The stick may have broken, or you may have left some tape on the biner, but as long as the draw is clipped to the bolt, you’re good to go.

STORE-BOUGHT STICK-CLIPS While the described setup should work for most situations, it may be worth investing in a premade stick-clip. You won’t have to constantly hunt around for sticks or waste tape. You can either make your own with simple parts from a hardware store, or you can buy a fully made one. We like the Trango Beta Compact ($67,; it’s lightweight (15 oz.) and easily packable, plus, it holds a brush for cleaning those hard-to-reach holds.

72 |

Stick-clipping is great for redpointing because you can clip a higher bolt while hanging from a bolt below: Clip in directly to the lower bolt, send down a loop of rope for someone to fix the stick-clip to, and then clip the higher bolt with that loop using the stick-clip. This is an advanced technique, so get proper instruction before trying it.



MAY 2013

Clinics_315.indd 72

3/28/13 9:54 AM

Stick-Clipping - Climbing May 2013