Ice Hook Racking

Ice hooks are great for many types of winter climbing, the only problem is that some people find racking them a problem, finding the hooks snag, tangle, or worse still stab you in the ass.

First off always clip the hook so that the stem points downwards. This reduces the chances of the hook hooking either your gear or yourself. I often see climbers simply clipping their hook via the fixed exstender, which leaves the hook swinging backwards and forwards, a real danger in a fall. Also when seconding never just let it dangle from the rope; if the rope goes tight or you fall while it’s hanging between your legs…well you do the maths.

Most people rack their hooks on the back of the harness out of habit, after all when they first came out they were pretty esoteric and that’s where esoteric gear goes. Actually it’s better to place the hooks where they can be more easily seen and handled (on the side), putting other gear that can be easily idenfied, like hexs and exstenders round the back instead.

The best tool for racking hooks is a plastic racking clip like the Petzl Caritool, which will allow several hooks to be carried, and allows you to easily sort through and remove the hook you want (due to the small lip at the top of the Caritool).

Personally I’d avoid buying a hook who sling is too short or stiff so that you’re unable to clip the slings karabiner through the top hole.

Onother option that can reduce tangles when racking several hooks is to tie a small loop of 4mm cord through the top clip hole. This will allow more hooks to be clipped to a single krab and greatly reduce the hassle involved in removing them.

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Andy Kirkpatrick

Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.

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