Departing from Xinda hut at 7am, we hit the trail with some beautiful weather. Dabajianshan and Xiaoba stood to our right, the sheer mountain faces jutting straight up. To the left the snow covered face of Xueshan loomed and straight ahead lies Pintian Mountain.

Pintian Mountain itself is not noted for being a hard climb. At 3,524 meters, the way up is not technical, but a safe descent of the 60-meter dropoff would make for an interesting day. We indulged at the summit, taking in the 360 degree panorama.

Pintian Mountain

Abseiling the Pintian Cliffs

The Pintian cliffs are two, 20-meter pitches, one 10-meter pitch and another 8  meter pitch. Some people choose to climb down these rock faces, but with the amount of loose rock, unstable hand holds and snow and ice patches still around at this time of year, abseiling was long decided as the safer choice. Pulling on our knowledge from the abseil courses we teach, setting up the anchors and prepping for an abseil was a breeze. With additional carabineers, attaching the pack to the descender got the backpacks down quick and safe with all the weight on the rope, allowing for a smooth abseil.

In the end, we used a combination of everything. Sometimes wearing our backpacks, sometimes lowering them, sometimes having them locked into our descenders as dead weight to the rope, we descended via four multi pitch abseils with rope pull downs. Setting up, lowering packs, abseiling, pulling down the rope, walking 5 meters, setting up and repeating the process was exhilarating, time-consuming, and humbling.

Coming Down Safely

With the Pintian cliffs behind us and on the ridge between Pintian and Sumida Hut, we felt good, though tired and a little concerned about time. . We summited Buxiulan Mountain and moved towards Sumida Mountain and Sumida Cliffs – which turned into a bigger challenge than the Pintian cliffs. The weight of our packs pressed ever harder as the hours ticked by.

The Backside

With the fast approaching sunset at 6:30pm, we took an opportune stop at a soft tree-filled plateau and pulled out the map for a quick huddle. To press on in the dark with unknown obstacles ahead or to risk a night in the open in hopes that the weather forecast (clear) holds up. Tapping on the experience of previous Shei-Pa hikes, a quick run-through of gear, fuel, and water source, the decision was made to camp on the ridge.

With a nice flat bed of moss and pine needles, a huge pile of mountain snow that would be our water, we had found our oasis, our spot for the night. What we thought was going to be an uncomfortable night turned out to be one of the highlights of  the trip. With a clear night out, falling asleep under the stars and waking up from time to time and finding myself under the brightest dome city lights can never equal was a humbling experience.

Under the Stars

Sharing it with my team members was rewarding beyond compare. The combination of a new moon, and beautiful weather made for the best night one could ask for. At over 3500 meters, there was no humidity to get our equipment and sleeping bags wet. This night was probably the best night’s sleep I got on the entire trip. It proved to be much needed as day 3 would challenge us in many different ways.

This write up is part of the 5 day trek of the  Holy Ridge (Shengleng trail) trek. Join our next trip to share the adventure! We also summit Pintian mountain with our trek to one of Taiwan’s iconic mountain, Dabajian. Check our Twin Peaks Traverse trek as well!.

The Team

As we prepare for our upcoming trip for multipitch climbing, it’s a good time to quickly review the type of gear we will be using. This post also gives you an Idea of what is needed for the local climbiong gym as well. This serves as a guide for what you need to start climbing, whether it’s indoor bouldering or your first climbing wall lead.

If you’re new to climbing then knowing what you’ll need to get started and progress can be a little daunting. We’ve put together some basic beginner climbing equipment lists to help you out a bit. Beginner Indoor Climbing Equipment covers everything you’ll need to get you climbing at you local bouldering or climbing wall.

Please remember, as with all the articles, tips and videos on this website, none of the systems, suggestions or practices should be used without proper training and experience. Climbing can be a dangerous sport and all climbers must take responsibility for themselves.

Happy Climbing!

Indoor Climbing

  • Climbing Shoes
  • Chalk Bag
  • Chalk
  • Do make sure the shoes are tight. Usually 1/2 size smaller than your normal shoe size
 Top Rope
  • *A suitable locking belay carabiner. Either an HMS, Oval or belay specific.
  • *A suitable locking belay carabiner. Either an HMS, Oval or belay specific.
  • **30m is usually sufficient, but check with the wall to make sure before you buy
  • ***This is usually optional as most climbing walls have fully equipped lead routes with quickdraws in place. However a few do have routes that are just bolted meaning you’ll need your own quickdraws to climb them . This is a great way of preparing yourself for outdoor sport routes. Eight to ten is generally more than enough, but check with the wall before you buy.

Taiwan is an amazing island that offers both the mountains and the beaches within a couple hours drive of each other.  With three large national parks, Sheipa, Tarako, and Yushan National park, we are constantly exploring new and exciting destinations for trekking through these beautiful ranges. This write up will be focusing on one of the four challenges of Taiwan, the Qilai East Ridge Trek.

Located in the Tarako National Park, this trek stems from the Central range to the awe inspiring Qilai mountain. The journey will take you through bamboo forests and mountain fields, touching the corner of Mount Tarako, and finishing up in the world famous Tarako Gorge.

Normally this trek starts near Wuling Pass in the central Mountain range.  First, making your way to the top of Mount Qilai North Ridge (3607 meter) and then working your way down to the Tarako gorge over 5 days to an altitude of about 800 meters.

When we decided to undertake this beautiful trek, construction was to begin on the bridge across the tarako gorge and we were required to do the trek in the opposite direction.  This made the challenge just a bit more interesting.

The start of the trek was extremely humid and the water sources were spread out with quite some distance between each water point.  As the trek continued on, we found that the trail markers were placed so that they would be very visible coming from the other direction. This really gave us an opportunity to hone our map reading and compass skills.

The trail itself was an amazing combination of bamboo forests and dense overgrowth. This was followed by reaching the sub alpine line of beautiful pine trees, and to finally being above the tree-line. We had a chance to experience a bit of everything.  You must be prepared to sleep in a tent the entire time. With the exception of a workers hut, and the Qilai hut, it’s all campsites.  And there were some pretty amazing campsites along the way.

Water was another factor we had to be mindful for.  There was only one to two sources of water we would cross each day.  We would carry about 7 liters of water between the two of us.  With our dehydrated meals, water was a key to both drinking and eating. Not all water points were from an absolute clean water source.  Using a sterilizing pen, as well as water purification tablets is the precaution we took for this environment. Doing this trek in November, we had amazing weather but as we got higher into the mountains, the weather did become quite cold.  One night spent on the ridge saw ice droplets around us in the morning.

We were completely alone and in solitude for the first 5 days.  Day number six we had some amazing visitors.  Deer that were completely unafraid, came and visited our campsite in the evening.

On Day 7 we finally emerged on the top of Qilai North Peak, and being a popular peak, there were quite a few trekkers on top giving us a curious look as to where we just came from. It is not common to do the Qilai East ridge trek in the opposite direction.  The trekkers were extremely friendly and even gave us a ride all the way to Taichung, where we enjoyed a nice hot shower and a great Taiwanese meal, with bubble tea as the dessert!

This trek is a great all around experience for trekking in Taiwan.  A similar trek would be our “Twin Peaks, Dapa to Pintian mountain” trek. Also the “Sheipa Mountain Holy ridge” trek is a great introduction to mountaineering as the use of ropes and other technical equipment is involved. Check out our other blogs on our intro to mountaineering equipment as well as the other adventures that we love to take you on! Have any other questions?  Contact us now!

Happy Trekking!

“A road less travelled” A statement often overused, but in this case under-describes the road between Langhar and Murghab, Tajikistan.  Also known as the Afghan corridor or Wahkhan Valley corridor, the lonely stretch of road was once travelled by large caravans from Europe and Persia that wanted to reach the Far East,to buy and sell their goods. I guess this stretch of road is most commonly known as part of the the Silk Road.

A journey to the mountainous Lenin Peak (7134m) brought us to Kyrgyzstan and the lure of adventure on this lonely highway brought us to Tajikistan. The Pamir Highway is officially considered from the city of Dushanbe, in Tajikistan to the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan.  Most of this road has small villages and towns along the way, but the section from Langhar and Murghab, is extremely desolate with the exception of a few ranchers during the summer season.  I found myself spending 3 days exploring just this piece of the highway.

With a 4×4 vehicle, plenty of food, water, and camping gear, we set out to take a step back in time and see what the travelers of the caravans saw, some 500 years ago. I was warned that if I had car trouble, do not expect to see another car for two or three days at least. It wasn’t quite that desolate, we did see at least one car of locals each day. But the conditions of the road did give us our share of challenges.

The road itself goes thru several high-mountain passes and we were camping at around 4300 meters each night. Having just finished our Lenin Peak attempt, we felt acclimatized for our day walks we took, but the surprise was the temperature in the evenings.  Dropping down to well below 0 degrees Celsius at night, we chose to sleep in the back of the SUV.  The sleeping bags were more than warm enough and the early morning Sun gave a pleasant warm up before climbing out of the car.

Each day, it felt as if we were visiting different worlds.  First the beautiful greenery of Earth, then the barren landscape of the Moon, and moving on to the red sand mountains that resembled Mars. It was truly remarkable.

The high mountain lakes with it’s glacier water and mineral deposits reflected a blue so deep, that it couldn’t be captured in photos. The reflections of the mountains in the water was as clear as highest quality mirror that money could buy.  Each remarkable landscape that we passed, we tried to photo but the photo just didn’t capture the beautiful realities of the surrounding.

The Fortresses of the different khans during the period still stood in it’s weakened form.  But one could imagine life in these mountains behind these walls.  The petroglyphs inscribed on the rock, tell of stories of Marco Polo Sheep and the Ibex that populate the area.

Though we spent only 3 days in this section, it truly felt like time travel, stepping back to another time.  This is a time travelers dream.  Interested in experiencing the Pamir Highway? Contact us at and we can make it happen. The road less travelled is waiting for you…

Moving quickly and efficiently whilst multi-pitch climbing is a real art, and will greatly improve your experience. Here are some great techniques and tips  on how to hone your skills, and get more out of your day.

Bad stance management and lack of planning can lead to all manner of problems, and the longer the route, the more serious this becomes.

Prior planning and preparation prevents particularly poor performance.

Research your routes

Plan your routes thoroughly before you leave, including descents and alternatives if your chosen route is busy. Having a good understanding of a route before you go will mean that you can also have a good idea of the type of rack you’ll need. If it’s a lot of crack climbing or lower grade stuff, then you can leave the micros at home. If it’s a face or slab, then you may not need any large cams, and if it’s polished limestone, then swap your cams for hexes. The route description will really help you make some of these decisions.

Photocopy (and laminate) the relevant guidebook pages and maybe leave the guide book behind or put it in the second’s pack. Make at least two copies in case you lose one. Making notes on the back of the photocopy on descent, gear, and important beta like belays and tricky route-finding can save you lots of time. If you know someone who’s done the route before, then have a chat with them before you leave.

Why take 500 pages when you only need two? You’re more likely to get out a piece of paper and check the route than a whole guide book, and it’s a lot easier to do this when you’re halfway through a pitch. Attaching it to a bit of cord will mean you won’t drop it. You and your second can easily access it and ensure you don’t waste time going off route. It will also save you time at the bottom of the route, and means you don’t waste time pouring through the guide book.

Pack right

Organise and pack your kit the day before, not in the car park or at the bottom of the route. Time spent sorting out your gear and changing clothes is time spent not climbing, and if you leave it till the last minute, you’re much more likely to have forgotten something vital.

Pack your kit so that when you arrive at the crag your helmet comes out first and goes straight on your head, followed by your harness. Then the ropes for your second to flake while you gear up.

When you’re packing your gear, think about how you like to rack it. Maybe clip all your quickdraws together, so when you pull them out they can go straight on your harness and not in a mess on the floor. Clip nuts and cams together in separate bunches, and arrange your slings so they are ready to go with karabiners already on them. Another option is to group your gear together according to the gear loop it’s going to go on, so when you pull it out it goes straight on the relevant loop. It’s not about rushing, but about a minimum of faff.

If you’re going to be carrying rucksacks up the climb, it can be useful to have one that will fit inside the other, enabling the leader to climb without a pack.

Warm up your body and mind

If it’s a short walk in to the crag then warming up can be tricky. If you’re driving to the venue then keep the car warm or wear a belay jacket to keep your body temperature up. I usually wiggle my toes, fingers, wrists and ankles to get them loose and lubricated. When walking in start mobilising the bigger joints – the aim is to mobilise and loosen up but not stretch. If it’s a longer walk in then use the time to discuss the route and get warm.

It’s also a good idea to get your climbing head on during this time. Put aside other thoughts or stresses and start thinking about the route description and the types of moves that might be needed (lay backs, jamming etc). Try and remember (positive) experiences on similar rock and grades. So much about climbing is psychological, and taking time to focus properly will mean you begin the climb in the right frame of mind.

Beginners Rock Climbing Thailand
Multipitch Rock Climbing Thailand

Get on with it

It’s amazing how fast the time can go when you’re at the bottom of a route, but if you’ve prepared properly before you get there, then it should really only be a few minutes before you’re climbing.

Whilst the leader sorts the gear, the second flakes the ropes and sorts their personal gear and packs or stashes the rucksacks away. Once you’ve both tied on and checked each other, have a quick reminder of climbing calls or rope pulls to make sure that you’re on the same page, and then the leader puts on (pre-cleaned) rock boots, opens up chalk bag and heads up.

The second will often keep approach footwear on but may loosen off the laces and have rock boots laid out ready or if cold keep ’em stuffed in their jacket to warm them up. Once leader shouts ‘safe’ the second needs to be in their boots and totally ready to climb by the time the rope is pulled tight so that when the leader calls ‘climb when ready’, you are!

Beginning your route with this level of efficiency will put you in a great position to maintain it for the rest of the climb.

The big one – stance management

A lot of time is wasted at belays and on multi-pitch climbs and that time can add up quickly. This system doesn’t require you to move any faster but will allow you to leave the belay and continue climbing more efficiently.

Make sure you both know how you like to rack your gear on your harnesses (have a system, even if you adapt it for different routes). This can be talked through on the walk in or the day before. Doing this will mean that at belays you can both be doing something to enable the leader to get going again asap.

TIP: Use different coloured tape to colour coordinate the nuts on their racking karabiner.  For example small nuts are marked with red tape as is the karabiner they’re racked on, medium nuts with blue tape etc.  This enables the second to very easily re-rack the leader without having to constantly ask where things go or handing them to the leader to sort.  The leader should be sorting the ropes while the second re-stocks the leader’s harness. If the second hands it to the leader or clips it to the belay then the act of re-racking involves more movements and actions than is necessary.


Climbing in Singapore
Arapilies, Australia

Here’s what normally happens

The second arrives at the belay, clips themselves into it, and then takes the cleaned kit (usually in a mess) from their harness and hands it to the leader who then has to sort it, leaving the second with nothing to do. Or the second takes the kit and clips it to the belay, and then the leader unclips it from the belay and racks it on their harness. Two people doing one job. Then, if you’re leading in blocks (same leader for the whole route) the ropes need back-flaking. Once flaked and the leader on belay, only then can the climbing resume.

Taiwan Tours
Nice Anchor for Belaying from Above

What if we did this instead?

As the second climbs the pitch they strip and sort the gear and rack it neatly on their harness in a way that will enable them to re-rack the leader’s harness. I put all wires onto one krab, re-sling sling draws (60cm slings tripled up), cams on one side or on one part of my harness. If using the Yosemite racking technique (see Tip: Yosemite racking) then, as a second I can rack the quickdraws in the Yosemite way ready to put straight onto the leader’s harness – in one movement three or four quickdraws can be transferred from the second’s harness to the leader’s. Any cams or large nuts with extendable slings should be shortened in readiness. I rack all of my cams on individual krabs and if I need to extend the cam with a quickdraw, I’ll leave the krab on the cam to make stripping and sorting easier.

Upon reaching the belay the traditional roles can be reversed somewhat because the second knows how the leader racks their kit. Because they have organised the stripped kit onto their harness, the second is in the best position to remove it and re-rack the leader. The leader back-flakes and sorts the ropes – why? Because they’re the ones who have spent the last five, ten, fifteen minutes coiling or stacking it at the belay! So surely they know best how to back flake it (and can’t blame anyone but themselves if there’s a tangle!).

The system above is based on the same leader, leading for the whole route, but even if you’re leading in relay (swinging leads) the system doesn’t really change that much. There should be no need to re-flake the rope, but instead of doing this the new second (already at the belay), can rack the new leader with the kit that wasn’t used. While the new leader can be looking at the route description for the next pitch. If the second is to lead the next pitch then they should be stripping and sorting the gear from the route onto their harness ready for their lead as they climb.

This system involves less actions/movements and gives defined roles to each person depending on who’s best placed to carry them out. Basically, the second deals with the gear, the leader deals with the ropes. If one finishes their job first, then they can help the other (this system obviously assumes a fair amount of competence on the part of the second).

These are techniques that we teach and practice during our climbing trips to Lopburi Thailand.  A beautiful multipitch climb with 6 pitches to work thru to become efficient.  Join us for our climb clinics and become more efficient at multipitch and overall climbing!

Human beings have been using ropes for various purposes since prehistoric times, and before we started to make them, it’s likely that we used natural vines and creepers (see Tarzan). They have always been as integral to our lives as the wheel and were around long before. In this article you will find a little bit of history on ropes, how they are made, the different types, what they are used for and what things like impact force, elongation and number of falls mean.

Climbers have used ropes to safeguard themselves for as long as there has been climbing. The first types of ropes that were used were generally made of strands of Hemp or Sisal twisted or woven together. These early ropes had a very poor strength to weight ratio, were stiff and awkward to handle and often failed.

In 1941 the first nylon ropes were being produced in the USA and France, but 12 years later the German company Edelrid was to make the most significant breakthrough in climbing rope history. In 1953 they invented the Kernmantle rope, and this is what we are still using today. The word comes from the German word Kernmantel and means coat-protected core. This invention revolutionised climbing ropes; hemp ropes and rope breakage very quickly became a thing of the past.

Yet another breakthrough by Edelrid in 1964 saw the introduction of the first Dynamic rope, capable of withstanding multiple falls, and that was the grandaddy of the Dynamic rope we use today.

The Kernmantle rope

Kernmantle rope is how all climbing ropes are made today. The Kern is the core and the mantle the sheath

These ropes are chiefly made of nylon (polyamide), but are sometimes made of polyester, aramid and other man made fibers. The strength of the rope is made up of both parts, core and sheath, and the proportion of each depends on the type of rope you buy.

Dynamic rope

Dynamic ropes are constructed to stretch under load, and will absorb much of the energy exerted in a fall and this is what makes them so good for climbers. If a climber were to take even a small fall onto a rope with little or no dynamic properties the result would be serious injury and even death.

Another important factor for climbers is that the rope not only lessens the energy exerted on a climber in a fall, but also lessens the energy exerted on their anchors, making them much less likely to fail.

Semi-static rope

Often referred to as Static rope, this is, however, usually incorrect as most have some degree of stretch. Semi-static ropes are used extensively by industrial rope technicians but also by climbers for a number of jobs. Whilst it is sometimes possible to use a Semi-static rope for top or bottom roping, where there is absolutely no possibility of a shock load, these ropes must never be used for leading. The most common uses for these ropes are abseiling and rigging anchors.

The 3 Types of Dynamic rope

Dynamic rope comes in three different types and you will always find a symbol at each end of the rope to tell you which one it is.

  • Single Rope.This is a rope designed to be used on its own. Used across all climbing disciplines.
  • Half Rope. This is a rope designed to be used in conjunction with another half rope, and sometimes referred to as “Double Rope”. Each rope should be clipped into an independent anchor or running belay. Used by trad climbers and mountaineers.
  • Twin Rope. This is a rope designed to be used in conjunction with another twin rope. The big difference here is that both ropes must be clipped into the same anchor or running belay. Used by sport climbers and some mountaineers.

Rope diameters

All of the ropes we have mentioned come in a wide variety of diameters. From as little as 6.9mm right up to 16mm, however there are restrictions in diameter for each of the main types of ropes.

  • Single ropes are available from 8.9mm to 13mm
  • Half ropes are available from 6.9mm to 9mm
  • Twin ropes are available from 6.9mm to 9.1mm
  • Semi Static rope is available from 8.5mm – 16mm

Information found on dynamic ropes

As already mentioned all dynamic ropes will have a symbol to tell you which of the three types of rope it is. There is also a whole load of other info about the rope, typically found on the packaging and always found in the manufacturers recommendations, included.


Union Internationale des Associations D’Alpinisme is the international mountaineering and climbing federation that has created the standards to which all dynamic climbing ropes with the U.I.A.A mark must adhere. The standard is 101, and EN 892. Whilst these numbers may mean very little to most, it’s important to make sure the rope you buy has been passed by the U.I.A.A. Any ropes without this marking should be avoided.

Number of Falls

This is the number of UIAA falls the rope can handle before it loses its dynamic properties and risks possible failure.

This marking can be very confusing to even fairly competent climbers. It does not mean that after you have taken the marked amount of falls, that you need to buy a new rope. The EN 892 test requires a single rope to hold a minimum of five factor 2 falls with 80kg at an impact force of less than 12kN.

To read more about fall factors, see our article on “Understanding Fall Factors”, but in brief, a fall factor greater than 1 is totally unacceptable and should never happen. If you do take a significant fall on your rope always make sure to have a good inspection of it afterwards.

The number of falls can give an indication of how robust the rope is, the more UIAA falls it can take, the harder wearing the rope will be.

Impact Force

This is a very useful figure in helping you decide which climbing rope you should buy . The impact force marking on a climbing rope is the amount of force in kN (kiloNewtons) that the first UIAA fall exerts on the falling body.

The aim is to create a rope with the least amount of impact force whilst staying within the maximum elongation figures. This means less force transferred from the rope to the climber, belayer and anchors, massively reducing the risk of injury or anchor failure. This is especially important to trad and ice climbers.

So, a rope that has a higher impact force will be more durable, but also transfer more force, in the event of a fall, onto the climber and the anchors; and rope with a lower impact force will be a little less durable, but transfer less force, in the event of a fall, onto the climber and the anchors.

Static Elongation

This is the amount of stretch in the rope when a 80kg weight is hung from it.

Dynamic Elongation

This is the amount of stretch in the rope after the first UIAA fall test. We already know that having stretch in your climbing rope is essential, but if it has too much stretch then there is a very high risk of a climber hitting a ledge or even the ground, so the UIAA sets the maximum elongation of a rope to 40% of the rope that’s paid out. So a fall onto 10m of paid out rope cannot exceed more than 4m of stretch, and this needs some considering when you’re climbing.

Sharp Edge Test

This is no longer required by the UIAA,  but to increase safety a number of rope manufacturers still use it. It basically tells you how your rope may resist cutting when in contact with sharp edges.

Sheath Slippage

The sheath on a badly made climbing rope can stretch out of sync with the core and this will mean the rope will become lumpy and, in the extreme, dangerous. The Sheath Slippage test is the only test where the CE (EuroNorm) requirement differs from that of the UIAA. After pulling two metres of rope through a designated constriction, the European Standard requires that the sheath slippage should be less than 40mm, or 2%, whilst the UIAA standard is more severe, requiring a value less than 20mm, or 1%. However, many modern climbing ropes achieve 0% or very close to 0%.

Sheath Percentage

This will tell you what proportion of your rope is sheath, compared to core. A larger sheath proportion will normally mean that the rope is more abrasion resistant and smaller sheath proportion can mean a lower impact force.

Regulations for Semi-static Ropes

Whilst Semi-static or Low Stretch ropes do come under UIAA guidelines, standard 107, this standard is based on the European Standard 1891:1998. Semi-static ropes come in two types. Type A and Type B. Type A is the most commonly used as it conforms to all of the standards of EN 1891, whereas Type B ropes do not, and as such should only be used after careful risk assessment.


There are far too many different types of rope treatments to be able to cover them all in this article. In general the most important one will be some form of dry treatment, to stop the rope absorbing too much water. This is most important to winter climbers and mountaineers. Ropes obviously become far heavier when they are wet and of course in cold temperatures can freeze, making them very hard to handle and in the extreme, very dangerous.

All good rope manufacturers offer a number of different choices in dry treated ropes, the most basic will be a simple treatment that is applied to the sheath only, and will essentially make your rope water resistant, but not water proof. After prolonged exposure, they will eventually absorb water into the core. However this type of treatment is really all you need if you’re trad climbing, and sport climbing.

A more expensive alternative is a fully dry treated rope, such as Golden Dry, from Beal. This means the sheath and the core have both been treated, and will give you the best protection from the elements.

Another useful benefit of either dry treatment is that it will often make your rope a little more durable, meaning it may last a bit longer.

Other treatments include, heating the rope to give it smoother handling characteristics, like Edelrid’s Thermo Shield, Beal’s new Unicore technique actually binds the sheath to the core resulting in a rope that has absolute zero sheath slippage, and is far safer in the event that the sheath is cut.


Like any piece of climbing kit, your rope’s lifespan will depend entirely on how often and where you use it, and also on how well you look after it. Some manufacturers will offer guidelines for maximum shelf life and also maximum working life. These are only guidelines and climbers need to develop their own opinions on when a rope should be retired. Don’t be tempted to ‘downgrade’ your rope from an outdoor to an indoor rope or similar. It is either safe to use or not safe to use, it makes no difference where it’s used.

To Sum Up

This article is meant as a basic introduction to ropes, and there is much more extensive information available in books and online for those who want it.

Since companies like Edelrid began making climbing ropes over 150 years ago, the technological advances have been enormous, but it’s worth considering that we are still using the basic design of the Kernmantle rope invented 56 years ago.

Of course, there are some truly amazing and unique ropes available now, like Beal’s Hotline, a rope using an Aramid sheath under a normal sheath, giving resistance to harmful chemicals, or the Raider also by Beal, that can withstand temperatures of up to 350 degrees Celsius for up to an hour and still retain 90% of its strength.

Lastly, your rope – no matter how well it’s made – will only maintain its strength and safety if you look after it properly. Always thoroughly read the manufacturer’s recommendations before you use a new rope, and make sure you know how old your rope is.

After spending a month in the Arapiles, Australia doing almost everyday of trad climbing, I really learned to embrace nuts and wires. This is also known as passive protection.  Passive protection is the term used to describe leader placed protection that has no moving parts. This seems like a good time to share some knowledge and experience on the subject.  It really is an awesome way to climb!


Passive protection is generally the first type of pro (short for protection) a new climber will buy. It tends to be considerably cheaper than active protection (camming devices etc), and will give you numerous placement options. Before you head out and buy your first lot of passive pro, take some time to research the areas where you are intending on climbing, as different rock types will often suit some kit better than others.

Standard Nuts

The mainstay of the Trad climbers rack. Also known as wires, these are wedge shaped “nuts” on a wire. They fit in small, medium and largish sized cracks, and when well placed are bomber. Most, if not all, are colour coded by size and and are compatible with other brands. A set of these is generally one of the first things to buy when starting out. There are subtle differences between brands, like weight, shape etc, but they all share much the same characteristics and it’ll come down to personal choice and budget.

Micro Nuts

As small as protection gets. These provide marginal protection for tiny cracks and weaknesses. The strength ratings are far lower than standard nuts, so make sure you know their limits. These are something to add to your rack as you go along, and not something you’ll need straight away. Some micro nuts, like the DMM I.M.P (Immaculate Marginal Protection) are made from brass which can offer a little more bite when shock loaded.

Offset Nuts

Sometimes referred to as HB’s after Hugh Banner, the man who invented them. These are available in both standard and micro sizes. The offset shape of the nut means that they are particularly good in placements where a normal nut will simply not hold. Peg scars, tapered and flaring cracks are far easier to protect with an offset. You don’t have to start out with these, but they will give you loads more options to place good gear. Theres only five sizes and they compliment the bigger standard rock nuts very well.

Hexes & Torques

Very large nuts, originally designed by Yvon Chouinard of Black Diamond, for protecting large cracks. Generally one of the first things to buy when starting out, and a lot cheaper than cams. When carefully placed, so that the sling is slightly rotated towards the top of the unit, force exerted in the event of a fall will actually rotate the unit slightly and cam it into the rock, creating an even safer placement.


These really belong in the cam family, but still have no moving parts as such. By rolling the head back so that it rests on the sling section and placing it into a crack, it will cam into the rock and become very stable when loaded. These are not something you need when starting out. They are excellent for use in the winter. Proper cam units become unsafe when placed in iced up cracks, but you can give a tri-cam a little love tap with your hammer and its far more likely to hold in the event of a fall. They can be a pain to get out though!

Nut Key

Totally essential if you want to come home with all your nuts! There quite a few to choose from , and generally it will come down to your budget and taste. Some things to look out for are, whether it has a hook or hooks to help release a stuborn cam trigger, someway to tighten a loose bolt, weight, and durability. Its often wise for the leader to carry their own nut key as well as the second, incase they need to retrieve a badly placed bit of gear.

So a good starter rack might include the following;

  • Standard rock nuts – one full set
  • Hexes or tourques – one full set
  • Nut Key – One

A few worthwhile additions might be;

  • Offsets – one full set
  • Standard nuts – Sizes 1-6 (or more)
  • Superlights (Wild Country) – One full set

​And for a little further down the road;

  • Brass offsets – One full set
  • Tri-cams – Various sizes
  • Peenuts (or simular) – 1-2 full sets

As mentioned at the start, this will vary based on what type of rock you climb, your grade, and personal preference.

Interested in trying trad climbing?  Contact us, and we can get you started on the journey to the freest form of safe outdoor climbing.  Trad climbing!

After a long day hike, what you really want is a good sumptuous meal to end off your day. At the same time, weight of your backpack matters. You are not going to have the luxury of bringing the whole kitchen and all kinds of food ingredients to achieve a hearty meal. This is why many adventure-seekers on multi-day expedition always opt to bring dehydrated food with them whilst camping outdoors, as dehydration process can considerably reduce the weight of the original meal. (In our case, we cooked some Thai curry rice and before dehydration process, the weight was 2.2kg grams. After dehydration, the curry rice weighed 700 grams, almost 1.5kg of water lost!)

Step 1: Plan your Menu and Quantity

Planning your menu and quantity is definitely the most important part of the process. You need to know what kind of food is ideal for dehydration and is easy to rehydrate. From the multiple times of dehydrated food preparation, we realise that vegetables such as cabbages, lettuce, tomatoes, onions still taste good after rehydration. Meat such as beef can be dehydrated too, but in the process of rehydration, it is highly recommended to let it sit in hot water and cook over slow fire for a longer time for the meat to be soft.

Step 2: Cook your Meals

This is the fun part. To cook your own meals! There are a lot of recipes available that would make perfect dehydrated food. Our top choices are Spaghetti bolognaise, Thai curry rice, Fried noodles, Mashed potatoes with chili con beans. Make sure the food is cooked thoroughly before you dehydrate them.

Step 3: Dehydrate your Meals

We used a food dehydrator to dehydrate all our camping food. Different dehydrators will work differently and will take different amount of time to dehydrate different food. You may refer to the guide with your food dehydrator as a reference. In our case, to dehydrate 2.2kg of Thai curry rice, the dehydration process took a total of 8 hours.  Some food took lesser time than others, depending on the water content in the food as well. We usually check the food to make sure it is crisp and dry before we conclude the food has been fully dehydrated.

Step 4: Pack and Vacuum Seal

We vacuum seal all our food to ensure freshness and make sure it is compact for carrying when we are on our adventures.


  • If you are slicing food ingredients, do attempt to slice them in similar sizes so that they will dry at the same speed
  • Our dehydrator fan is at the top of the tray. We noticed that the tray closest to the fan dries the fastest. Hence, for the food to dry evenly, we rotate the orders of the tray stacked so that they can dry evenly

Step 5: Rehydrate and Eat!

After all this hard work in preparing your food, the process of rehydration is easy. Add in hot water to your food, let it sit for approximately an hour. Cook the food over slow heat and keep stirring. A warm and yummy meal is ready to eat!


Ready to try a great trek and a great meal?  Holy Ridge Trek, Taiwan 2019.  Sign up today!

As we start planning for our great treks in 2019, it’s a good chance to spotlight one of our favourites in 2018! The Stok Kangri trek, has amazing scenery, incredible people, and of course the challenge of summiting a 6000+ meter peak.  The three days of acclimatising in the mountain town of Leh, India made it just the right combination of interacting with the local culture, and taking on the big mountains!

Leh, Ladakh Region, India

The Team on the Mountain

The Journey to Base Camp

Middle Camp, Mannkorma 4730 Meters ASL

Summit Morning

View from the North-West Ridge

The Summit ( 6153m ASL)

Happy Times on Top

Exciting times and a great season for Stok Kangri.  We finished the trip with an exciting day of White Water Rafting to keep the adrenaline flowing thru our veins!  Ready to try it?  Sign up for Stok Kangri 2019!

One of the most common questions I hear when working with beginners is “What type of belay device is best to buy?” Buying your first belay device can seem a little confusing, with many different types to choose from. A simple understanding of how they work will help you make your choice. Here is a brief outline of the the different types available and their common uses.

Standard Friction Device

These are the most common belay devices used by climbers. Whilst they all look a little different, and have some different features, they essentially work in the same way. The belayer will control the rate of descent of a falling or descending climber, by pulling the “dead” rope tight, this causes friction on the rope by forcing it into a tight bend. Almost all standard belay devices can also be used to abseil with.

  • These are the best devices for beginners and experienced climbers alike. Good for all climbing disciplines. Some of these devices, like the Black Diamond XP have small grooves that increase the friction on the rope and can be a good choice if your partner is considerably heavier than you.
 Stitch Plate (Rarely Used Anymore)
Black Diamond ATC


Assisted Breaking Devices

These are devices that assist the belayer in arresting a falling climber by locking when the rope moves through them at a certain speed. Often incorrectly referred to as Automatic or Auto-Locking.  Many indoor gyms are requiring ABDs these days.

  • These devices always require a vigilant and experienced belayer. Less versatile than a standard device, as almost all of them can only be used with one rope. Often used by sport climbers when working a route, and also favoured by big wall climbers.

Petzl Grigri 2

Edelrid Eddy

Petzl Grigri 1

Guide Plates

Sometimes known as “magic plates”, these devices generally work in the same way as a standard device, but can also be used in guide mode by instructors to bring up two clients. In guide mode they will lock in the event that one or both of the clients fall onto the rope.

  • Used by instructors and mountaineers, these devices are a little heavier than standard devices and generally more expensive. These are the most versatile of belay devices, sharing most of the characteristics of both assisted and standard devices. Almost always capable of single or double rope use.

Black Diamond ATC Guide

Petzl Reverso 4

DMM Pivot

Single and Double Rope Devices

Most standard belay devices will work with either a single or double rope, but there are some available that are for single ropes only, like the  Climbing Technology Click-Up. Virtually all assisted devices only work with one rope. If you intend to climb outside in any way, then it almost always makes sense to buy a device that can handle two ropes.

Most new climbers will buy the device that they used when learning how to belay.

All belay devices have different characteristics. Some will be better suited to smaller diameter ropes, some have grooves on one side to aid braking, and some don’t. If you require any further help with choosing your belay device, then please feel free to email us and we are happy to answer any questions!

If you are still unsure, or new to climbing then you can join us for our one of our certification courses or better still one of our rock climbing clinics.