Carabiners are small, metal, often aluminum clips that allow climbers to clip themselves onto the wall or clip gear onto them. There are a variety of shapes and styles of carabiners used for different purposes. Larger locking carabiners are frequently used to secure the rope to the wall and for belaying. Nonlocking carabiners are used to hold gear and for nonessential clips.
A belay device is a small unit used to prevent a climber from falling. The belay device has two slots that the rope is fed through. Through the principles of physics, the belay device allows one climber to stand or climb below another and stop them when they fall by pulling back on the rope.
A harness slips on like a pair of pants and sits on the climber's hips. The harness is used to attach a climber to the rope or belay device and to carry gear. A harness is the climber's safety net and should be worn fairly tightly to avoid slipping out if flipped upside down.
In climbing, a specialized rope is used. In lead climbing, the rope is tied onto the climber's harness. As she ascends, she carries the rope and tacks the rope onto the wall with carabiners and bolts that are placed into the wall face. The rope, in combination with the person on belay, will catch a falling climber.
For rock climbing, a stiff and small climbing shoe is used that allows the climber to stick to flat rock surfaces when scaling a smoother surface. Ice climbers require special boots equipped with spikes that resemble cleats. These boots assist in grabbing the ice to avoid slipping.
Although often neglected, helmets are a wise choice for any mountain climber. Whether climbing on rock or ice, the possibility always remains that a chunk of terrain may break off the mountain wall and crash down on top of you. To ensure that the carnage is left at a minimum, a helmet is the best defense.
A grappling hook allows for a climber to create a grip. These large hooks, seen frequently in movie climbing scenes, are swung into the wall until they dig deep enough to grab. Once the hook is placed, the climber can simply grab it and pull up.
Although optional or dependent on style, there are many other tools used frequently by climbers to make the experience more enjoyable. Cams and webbing can be used to make a climbing surface where one hardly existed before. Ice picks serve a similar purpose for ice climbers. Additionally, while warm weather gear is crucial for ice climbers, rock climbers add chalk bags to their gear list to allow for an easier grip. To determine the mountain climbing gear needed for your outing, visit a climbing instructor or read up on the latest gear.