A rack is a collection of climbing gear that a climber requires.  There are many different climbing racks, for example a sport rack will include a large amount of quick draws and a limited amount of climbing protection, where as a traditional rack will focus more heavily on climbing protection.  Initially it can be expensive to purchase a rack outright, therefore most climbers build up their racks as they improve, concentrating on the climbing gear that they require for their most common climbs.  Each climbers ideal rack will be different, depending on the type of climbing they do and the locations they wish to climb.  As a general guide though a basic climbing rack usually comprises of the following items:

  • 1 x Belay Device
  • 4 x Screwgate Karabiners
  • 10 x Wire Snapgate Karabiners.
  • 1 x Set of Rocks (Sizes 1 to10).
  • 3 x Hexes (Sizes 5, 7 and 9).
  • 2 x Cams (Sizes 1 and 2).
  • 3 x 120cm Slings.
  • A Helmet

Obviously it’s worth seeing what your friends initially have before purchasing your own rack and we would definitely advise that you talk to your local climbing shop to discuss your requirements before spending your hard earned cash.


A Quickdraw comprises of two clip or wire type karabiners connected together with a length of dynema sling.  Quickdraws are used to connect the rope to either the placed protection in trad climbing or a fixed bolt in sports climbing.

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To climb something “On-sight”, means that the climber manages to complete a route in their first attempt without any beta or inspection of the rock.  There is a lot of emphasis put on the fact that a climber only has one attempt to climb a route on-sight.  This can add extra pressure and increase nerves, none of which are good when trying to climb a route for the first time.


Beta is knowledge and in the world of climbing knowledge is power. Beta can be obtained from guide books giving route information, the internet or may be obtained from a friend who has climber the route before.  Beta can give insight into a really good hold that isn’t easily visible or be a case of finding out a combination of moves that helps to unlock a tricky part of a climb.


Abseiling is a common method used to descend climbs. It involves feeding the rope through an abseil device, which in a similar way to a belay device, controls the speed that the rope passes through it with minimal effort. As with climbing, abseiling should initially only be attempted under either professional supervision or with someone with climbing and abseil experience.


On sport climbs, bolts are fixed into the rock (usually via a drill and glue). The bolts provide a safe point for the climber to clip a quick draw to, which in turn allows the rope to be clipped. The fixing of bolts to climbs is pretty controversial. Some feel that bolts add safety, while others see it as permanently damaging the rock.

Bolting is often used to open up routes that have no means of using regular protection and is frequently used on routes set in quarries. What ever your opinion of bolted climbs, it’s worth noting that it is often difficult to check the age and condition of the bolt until you’re already on the climb, therefore especially in the early stages of your climbing, always climb with someone experienced.


Bouldering is a style of climbing which usually takes place on large natural boulders, low level rock faces and indoors at climbing walls. It is essentially free climbing, at a reasonably low level without any ropes or hardware for protection. A crash pad known as a bouldering mat is generally placed below the climber for protection in the event of a fall.

Read more about bouldering

Belay Device

A belay device is a piece of equipment used to control a rope whilst belaying. The device allows the belayer to control the speed of the rope simply and efficiently. When used correctly after proper instruction a belay device will allow lighter climber to control the rope and when required a fall of a much heavier climber. Most belay devices work by looping the rope around a series of tight bends. The rope can be paid out or taken in as required. If the climber falls, the rope can be locked (stopped) to prevent the climber from falling any further than the amount of slack rope already paid out.

Read more information about Belay Devices