My wife and I are both climbers. While we really enjoy longer routes, we end up spending a lot of time at the sport crag just because that’s what’s close to home. We have a large weight difference between the two of us. I weigh about 160 lbs. and she weighs about 105. That much of a weight difference creates the potential for bad things to happen, especially if I fall near the bottom of a route with only one bolt clipped.
We take a few precautions to avoid ground fall and/or hitting into each other when I’m leading a route. First, we load up a backpack with some rocks and tie her into it. This helps equalize the weight a bit and keeps her closer to the ground while still providing a soft catch for me. Second, if there’s an offline bolt nearby, as is often the case in gym, we’ll clip one of those to start. This adds some friction to the system and decreases the fall potential. It doesn’t do much good until at least three or four bolts are clipped, but after that it can make a significant difference. Third, we use a stick clip to clip up the first couple of bolts if things look a bit sketchy near the ground. That ensures that I’ll be on top rope for at least the critical section near the ground.
My favorite stick clip to use is the Superclip from Superclip Rescue. This device is really simple in its design since it’s just made out of a single looped piece of spring steel.
In my mind, a stick clip should do three things well:
- It should be able to clip a quickdraw on a bolt from the ground
- It should be able to hang the rope into an already hanging draw
- It should be able to retrieve a quickdraw that’s already hanging on the wall
Superclip does the first two items very well. To hang a quickdraw, you insert the quickdraw between the two spring-loaded rabbit ears on the device, clip your rope through, then hang it up on the wall. The rabbit ears press in on the gate and hold it open so it’s easy to get over the bolt. The only negative for Superclip in this function is that fatter quickdraws (the kind popular among sport climbers who are always grabbing draws) can be hard to stuff in between Superclip’s ears.
Hanging the rope on an already hanging draw also works very well, at least for the ~9.5mm ropes that I usually use. To do this, take a bite out of the rope and stuff it between Superclip’s ears. Position this bite over the carabiner gate and pull one end. Done properly, the bite will open the gate and snap into the carabiner. It’s not as cool as doing a rodeo clip, but more effective.
You can also retrieve an already hanging draw with Superclip, albeit to do so, you’ll have to have the rope already clipped into the quickdraw. Pull on the clipped in rope to put tension on the quickdraw, then push the Superclip up and over the top carabiner until the rabbit ears engage on the gate and open it. It’s then easy to remove the draw from the bolt.
I give the Superclip 4 out of 5 stars, with only a slight downgrade for having to have the rope clipped into the draw when retrieving it.