When to Retire a Carabiner

When to Retire a Carabiner
A carabiner is your lifeline when climbing. Carabiners attach your rope to the mountain, they attach your belay device to your harness and they keep all of your crucial gear attached to you when taking longer climbs. Without a working carabiner, you would be sunk. When a biner fails, the consequences can be deadly. Whether you appreciate the occasional indoor climb or consider yourself a mountaineer, knowing exactly when to retire a carabiner can be the difference between a great day of climbing and a tragedy.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Examine your carabiners frequently. While there is no real life span of a carabiner, it is still important to check each carabiner between every climb to ensure that no crucial damage has occurred from the previous climb. Frequent checks also aid in your knowledge of your equipment. The more you know each carabiner, the sooner you will notice when something is wrong.
Step 2
Look for deep gashes. Superficial cuts in the surface are normal and expected; however, when a large chunk of metal is missing, that carabiner must be retired, as its integrity is compromised.
Step 3
Feel around the inside of the carabiner. Check for any sharp areas that may cut into the rope or harness it is attached to. Even a surface that is only slightly sharp will increase the fatigue placed on your gear. Some irregularities can only be felt when you run your hand across them in a certain direction, so run your finger around the inside in both directions. A carabiner with these sharp cuts or ridges must be retired.
Step 4
Play with the gate and examine it closely. If the gate squeaks, if a locking carabiner will not stay locked, if it feels loose, seems tight or appears to be rusting, it may be time to retire that carabiner. However, before retiring a carabiner because of a possibly faulty gate, wash the carabiner in warm, soapy water and lubricate the gate with a silicone lubricant. If the carabiner works normally after this, keep it. If it is still not working correctly, it is time to retire it.
Step 5
Discard any carabiners that you suspect are too old or worn for any reason. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Tips & Warnings

To extend the life of your carabiners, pack them well to avoid unnecessary damage and clean them frequently as described in Step 4.

Article Written By Heather Rutherford

Heather Rutherford has enjoyed writing professionally since 2004. Her articles have appeared in ModernMom.com, DailyLife.com, ParentsHut.com, Trails.com and On-the-News. She also works intimately with several small businesses to prepare business plans and other marketing materials. Rutherford is seeking an Associate of Arts in business from North Idaho College.

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