All Day Tape Gloves

To all the aspiring crack addicts that might not yet know your love of crack, Creek season be approaching!  Ok, it’s already started, and sadly it looks like I am going to miss it this go around.  Fear not though as I will be right alongside in spirit, smirking about every gobie and pulled cam.

Since I will not be there in person, my main rope buddy has requested to go over my tape system before I run away about as far away from the creek as one can get and still remain in the lower 48….  Before we get into this one though, remember there are a lot of different tape gloves, I’m only going to cover how I do mine.  If you are looking for reusable gloves I would suggest continuing your search as I’m not a fan, although I have many friends that are very talented in the reusable type.

I like the way I do mine for a couple reasons

  1. It seems to adapt easily to various types of specific crack climbing, i.e. easy to covert for OW
  2. It doesn’t use that much tape, one roll easily makes two pairs of gloves
  3. Its fairly thin on the knuckles for tighter cracks, I.e.  karate chops
  4. If done clean they easily last an entire day of rugged jamming

Alright so let’s get started…  Tape choice can make a world of difference in durability; I prefer Euro tape which I get from Gearheads in Moab, even though Pagan claims to be the only shop in NA with Euro tape.  I find it’s easy to tear and thin yet durable.  Johnson&Johnson is by far not sticky enough for my liking and Metolious is pretty thick making thin gloves next to impossible.  Next thing that will absolutely make or break your gloves, hands NEED to be CLEAN!  Any grime or sweat will prevent the tape from getting a good stick.  So wash your hands well, I don’t care how hippie you’re trying to be in the creek just wash your hands.

The Secret weapon:  pre adhesive (multiple choices)  it allows for a much stronger stick, but makes washing the hands after climbing that much harder…

So with clean dry and maybe sprayed hands, start out by planning ahead, strategy can really help here.  Start by tearing off a 4-5 inch piece of tape, then a 3-4 inch piece followed by a 5-6 inch piece then 3 more 3-4 inch pieces.  I find it best to stick each piece to a pant leg awaiting the skin, and try to keep them in order.

tape gloves 006

The first piece goes over the knuckles slightly over… barely onto your fingers, notice how I spread my fingers to prevent getting the tape too tight.

Next piece is the wrist lock piece.

            tape gloves 007 How many gobie scars do you see?

Third piece starts at the wrist lock and goes over the web between the thumb and fingers.

tape gloves 008

Then the 3 short pieces, these will go over the back of the hand starting on the thumb side, be carful to position the first piece to completely overlap the seam of the web piece.  I like to pat each piece to help get it stuck to the skin.

tape gloves 010         tape gloves 011

And now back to the roll, start a pull of a couple inches, you’re going to rewrap the knuckles.  I like to start on the pinky side and wrap towards the thumb, remember fingers spread.

tape gloves 013

Continue around the palm wrapping the knuckles once more, this is one and a half times around the hand.  On the next pass start to angle across the thumb trying to barely overlap the last wrap when you come around by the pinky again.  This lets you angle across the back of the hand locking all the short piece seams.

tape gloves 014      tape gloves 016

From there wrap the wrist, but DO NOT wrap too tightly, very easy to do too tight and have to undo the glove from excess pain and poor circulation.  And there you have it one basic all day single use glove.

          tape gloves 015

With this base it’s easy to make an OW glove too, only take one more piece of 4-5 inches and a narrow piece.  Start with the same basic, but after the over the web piece use the long piece to go up the thumb from the wrist strap, stop at the last joint in the thumb and use the narrow piece to lock it via wrapping around the thumb.

       tape gloves 018


Multipitch Ice Anchors

Hopefully before tearing into the amount of ideas I’m about to cover you have stopped by my welcome page and read the disclaimer.  I cannot emphasize how if you are uncomfortable with an idea that you should discard it.  In this post I am going to discuss 3 different ways to utilize a two screw anchor for protecting multipitch ice, and it is going to be a whole lot of information.  Each method has good characteristics and some that might not be so, in the end it is up to you to choose which aspect you value more, and properly implement in your climbing.  If you’re still reading I might suggest breaking this down into 3 sections, study one at a time, go out and mock set it up then return for the next method. 

The first method is how Will Gadd goes about his anchors for speed on long multipitch routes, rather than write out how he does it feel free to jump over to his blog post about it here  might want to grab a fresh cup of joe before you head over to there to learn though….  The chain of pics below was a mock set up to illustrate what I feel he describes since I understand better from pictures than just text.

ice anchors 006    ice anchors 007   ice anchors 009

My personal opinion of this system is its brilliant, once you are competent to really be on the monster routes that an ice God like Gadd  tends to hang out on.  But, for the lesser experienced Ice leader this can be a bit over whelming to comprehend.  Notice how much he stresses the screws being bomber, and in other articles he’s written about typically getting to belay ledges where the previous screws haven’t been in all the way to good ice…  This in essence compromises the entire anchor, notice how the two screws are connected via the rope but are never equally loaded, so if one blows it will be a hard loading onto the second screw.  Past that since the the lower scew is holding the belayer for the seconding portion of the climb and the belay device is clipped straight into the lower screw, should it fail both the lead climber and belay will be held to the top screw via the hanger of the lower screw.  While this can work it just sounds a bit ugly.  Another point is, to follow his exact methods you need a screw with a two hole hangers, like the new BD screws.  While my current rack only has one screw with that style hanger and I intend to switch to the Petzl screws next year, after all light is right and Petzl will by far have the lightest screw on the market.  Further, this system requires the second to belay the lead off his harness, now I know most of you are taught to do that anyways, but the following links are showing a trend moving away from this and instead belaying off the masterpoint.  Why you ask?  Because a bomber anchor is well bomber….  And a belayer is soft….  In the event of catching a big fall the belayer will be launched, so much so they might not catch the fall if using a tube style device. Beyond that one of the big reasons not to fall is all those knives we tend to have attached to ourselves, well the belayer might not have their tools on them, or they might, but they will have their crampons which are very likely to induce some trauma from the getting ripped around.  Thus, sometimes its very nice to be able to belay straight off the masterpoint. 

Fixed point belay

IFMGA metting report on fixed point belays

And last but not least this guy is always good for a laugh on his youtube channel and is my source for finding the above linked data

Mikes Mail 9    

What I like about this system is how quick it makes things, when speed matters it’s hard to imagine a faster method.  But, if you think that speed is simply from building the V threads on the way up you’re wrong.  Any anchor method using an autoblock belay can build the V threads while belaying a second.  Where the speed is generated is from having the anchor cleaned when the lead gets the second on belay.  That is after all what the second is waiting for to start climbing, and this way the moment they are on belay they just unclip the V thread and climb.  Now if you don’t like the screws not being equalized you do always have the option to make the length of rope between the clove hitches longer.  Long enough to form a bite and tie a matsterpoint that you can run your belay device off of.  Out of all methods this will be the lightest application of any anchor I would use.

Now lets talk about what most of you view as the “Equalized” anchor

ice anchors 012

One thing I don’t like is the name, when you use a masterpoint knot that cannot shift, it is only equally bearing on both points of pro if pointed in the original direction you tied the knot.  Should the route go to the side of that, or shift from belaying a second to belaying a lead you are no longer equalized as shown below.  Instead you are completely loaded on one piece while the second is unloaded. 

ice anchors 013

Now here’s my solution to the unequalized nature of this system going into lead belay.  When setting it up first attach one of your screamers to the lower screw,

ice anchors 014

notice I have one set up with dual lockers for this purpose.  Now when you belay the second the masterpoint aims down the route and the load is carried by both pieces.  Since the top piece cannot extend there is really no risk of the screamer deploying.  Follow that with keeping the belay on the masterpoint for the lead, and the top unloads so in the event the leader takes a fall the screamer will kick in if it’s a hard enough fall.  Granted this doesn’t help in the event of the horrible factor 2 fall unless the top screw blows, but if that were to happen I would much rather have the screamer as a backup to calm the nerves about such.  Another bonus of this is if you love screamers, now no matter where a fall should happen once the first piece is in you’ll be protected.  Instead of needing a screamer for every screw down low you can just carry 2, one for each belay station.  On a side note, it always amazes me when climbers talk about a screamer deploying and keeping them off the deck.  There are different camps on screamers right now with all of them looking at screamers on each piece of pro, and some find no benefit on those placements.  What they will do when deploying is put a climber closer to the deck.  If the screamer is in the belay for every foot it deploys the climber gets a foot closer to the deck.  When using one on pro, for every foot it deploys the climber gets two feet closer to the deck, how that is preventing them from decking I have yet to understand.  Granted the argument is it prevented the pro from blowing but honestly if the pro held, with a good rope it more than likely would have held without the screamer and you would have been that much further from decking.  By using the screamer in the anchor, you find the middle ground where all extension translates into dynamic ability to help the pro and the climber isn’t dropped an excessive amount. 

More food for thought on the screamer, I like to stack the deck in my favor.  Yes I believe in the leader must not fall, but sometimes shit just hits the fan like it or not.  When you think about proper screw placement having the cutting teeth high of the hanger so the screw loads on the threads rather than acting as a lever in the ice and fracturing the surface enough to bend and break the screw.  When you climb above the anchor you sift the direction of pull on the screws and create the exact opposite. Thus a hard hit on the anchor from above can achieve the exact reason we shifted out mindset on angling screws to begin with.  Do not take that to mean I want you to angle the screws backwards as they will still need the correct orientation while belaying the second, rather its use the screamer to protect the anchor from the screws being upside down so to say. 

The downsides to this system are it requires more gear, and more gear is more weight.  The ups though are it’s a modified version of how most people use a two bolt anchor for rock climbing and therefore should be pretty easy for a new lead climber to understand.  Its clean time will be the highest of the 3 systems in this post, thus it’s slower.  But, if you copy the V thread idea from the first method once the lead climber is off belay the seconder has a chance to have it cleaned before the lead finishes building the next anchor, staying clipped into the V thread of course.

And the last method I’ll write about tonight, the Sliding X

ice anchors 016

This method is what I would like to think of as the equalized anchor but for some reason the names tend to be backwards.  While very similar to the last method the difference is this doesn’t use a fixed masterpoint.  Instead it uses a twist of the strands on one side of the pro.  Be very careful to get the twist, if you don’t and a piece blows the belay devise won’t be attached to the anchor anymore.

ice anchors 017  ice anchors 018  ice anchors 019

The biggest pro to this system is no matter what direction a force is applied to the anchor, the materpoint will shift and equalize the forces between both pieces.  Trango even makes a presewn runner version to equalize 3 pieces in this fashion.  Now hopefully you noticed I don’t have a screamer in this one.  If you read through the links about forces generated by various falls you should have noticed that factor 2’s off the anchor tend to get around 5-7 kn.  Granted I’m sure that can be exceeded in the right situation but when looking at those numbers and knowing a screamer usually deploys between 2-2.5 kn and on top of that with the anchor truly equalized, it’s highly unlikely a screamer would feel enough force to start its deployment.  You have to think if half the load is on each piece and the factor 2 loaded 5 kn, then the screamer only feels 2.5kn.  Past that its effectiveness will only be half the last anchors method with 50% of its deployment going to each side of the anchor, thus for every foot it deploys the climber will fall 6 inches.  If it’s not going to work then why bring it and further complicate the anchor?  This creates the down side that you can’t protect every screw like the last anchor, but you can make up for that with a high quality rope with a LOW impact rating.  Personally I have been doing all my ice leading this season on my joker for this very reason.

So there you have it, three different anchor methods using two screws, notice in all the pictures how the screws remained the same?  Ultimately it’s up to you as the climber to understand each system before trying to use it. Practice at home, in the yard, at the base of a climb, but not on top a pitch for the first time…  Baptism by fire is a bad idea on this one where practice makes perfect and good practices will keep you alive.  Chose which one works best for you and go with it, work with your climbing partner on which system they like and from there build on it to speed up the process and efficiency.  On a closing note, this is ice climbing, not rock climbing, When in doubt BACK out.

Why aren’t we Reboring?

So over the last 6 days I have spent 3 on multiptich ice, not bad considering my late start to the season.  Mind you this is my first season back in the world of ice in some time, my oh my has the sport changed in my absence.  Besides the big changes that Will Gadd talks about like T style vs H style climbing technique one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is modern testing, especailly in screw placement.  Do you have a red BD screw on your ice rack? you know the stubbie said to be an aid piece?  I know I do and most climbers tend to shy away from the 10cm size screw for good reason, not enough thread to really hold a fall, or is it? hear me out here, I do have a point coming eventually…..  so on all 3 climbs of the last week I have run into places where other climbers have gotten to a stance and decided they were comfortable enough to put a screw in, but someone before them had already done exactly as they were about to do, so there is already a bored out hole in the ice from the previous team. Instead of finding a clean piece of ice to bore into they drilla new hole only an inch or two from the pre-existing hole, bad I tell you BAD!  When you find a hole from a previous team and you really need to get a screw in right there you have two options; 1 hang on for dear life while sketching out trying to find a clean chunk of ice at least a foot away from where the hole is already bored, struggle to get the threads started due to that whole sketch we already mentioned, and maybe just maybe you get that screw in and clipped before you completely screw the pooch…..  Yeah that was a sacrcastic worst case senario described, but hey it happens just TRUST me…  Oooorrrrrrr 2 take a screw of choice, maybe a 10 or 13 or even a 16 (preference on the first two sizes) and just simply thread it into the existing hole of the team ahead of you, provided there is only one bored hole already and not like I found today with six bores inside five inches across and 3 inches vertically……  Don’t think it’ll be strong enough?  Great thing about this modern tech world is access to all the data.  so take a look for yourselves at what the data says.

that screw they tested over and over again (10cm bd) averaged out to over 10kn of holding power before blowing out, mind you most lead falls are thought to generate 4-7kn provided you aren’t bouncing down the route like you probably will be in an ice fall…  (the bouncing keeps the forces lower, although you bones might not think so)

heres the full report from Strikerescue on their testing

clicky click

Biggest thing is that the quality of ice is always going to be king, but in good ice rebores even with a 10cm screw are prefectly strong, so strong in fact I have much weaker rock gear to say the least.  So lets watch each others backs out there and make life easier at the same time, no more endless drilling until there isn’t any good ice left to drill and instead use a few rebores.  Remember its easier to rebore and it doesn’t kill all the good ice for the team behind you.

Basic Fall Factors



If you’ve been around climbing for a little bit then you’ve probably heard the concept of fall factors explained.  A supposedly simple formula to determine the amount of force in a lead fall that the climber and gear are subject too.  Sadly as simple as the concept is, it is still misunderstood by a surprisingly high amount of climbers.  The importance of understanding fall factors is risk assessment when leading a climb, and understanding how much abuse your gear can withstand.

To start in keeping things simple assume a perfect world, normally I would cry about the world not being perfect but with fall factors an imperfect world actually acts in the climbers favor.

The formula

Distance fallen/total amount of rope out


Because of this the maximum fall factor a climber can take is a Factor 2, if a climber climbs 50 feet above their belay with no gear and falls they will fall for 100 feet excluding rope stretch, 100/50=2   to fall further than that would require ripping out the belay at which point its no longer a fall factor, rather a crater at the bottom of the cliff.  On the flip if a climber climbed the same 50 feet and was smart enough to place pro at 25 feet up from the belay now that same fall would total 50 feet on the same 50 foot of rope out as before 50/50= factor 1.  Or if the climber had placed several pieces with the last being 40 feet up from the belay you’d have the same 50 foot of rope with a 20 foot fall potential 20/50= factor 0.4  The lower the fall factor, the lower force will translate through the system from the fall.

fall factor

In the kindergarten level diagram above (someday I’ll figure out how to color inside the lines…) point A represents the belayer, B the climber and C the pro.  to understand possible fall factors take 2X the distance between C and B and divide it by the TOTAL distance between A and B

A factor 1 fall is one of the most important falls to understand for multiple reasons

  1. Rope impact ratings are based off testing at factor 1
  2. Exceeding a factor one will exceed the listed impact rating of the rope
  3. Factor 1 and above equate to hitting the ground on the first pitch.


NOTE* when calculating fall factors keep apples as apples and oranges as oranges.  If using total fall distance after rope stretch use total rope length AFTER rope stretch.  If using rope length before rope stretch use fall distance before rope stretch.