Spring Cleaning: How to Clean Up and Care For Your Climbing Equipment
Spring is here! The dirtbags are shaking out their sleeping pads and dusting off their ancient camalots to head to the nearest formation of large rocks to start the glorious springtime season of rock climbing. If you, like me, can’t wait to get back out on the rocks, but you (also like me) don’t know when the last time you looked at your climbing gear is, then you (like me!) should do some spring cleaning in preparation for the spring climbing season!
Here’s an easy checklist for you to look at while doing your spring cleaning.
- Check and replace your soft goods (Resling Cams)
Generally speaking, you should be replacing your soft goods about once every 5 years. Go through your cams, anchors, slings, and ropes and just check the manufacturer dates. You can find the year they were made on the small black tag on one end of the sling. If your cam slings are out of date, don’t worry! You don’t have to throw them away. You can ship them off to a certified location to get them re-slung for as little as $10 per cam. Check out Runnout Customs, they’re my favorite shop to get my cams re-slung at.
This is also a good time to get any trigger wires replaced if they’ve snapped!
If your alpine slings or anchor kits are out of date, do worry. It would be best to toss them out, make some art about it, and then get yourself some new gear.
For ropes, it depends on how often you climb on them, so use your best judgment. If you climb frequently you should look into replacing your lead rope once every few years. You should also take this time to run your hands over your rope and feel for any weak points, stiff spots, possible core shots, and other abnormalities you might find in your rope.
Like with anything, you should use your best judgment. If your slings are brand new but recently they ran over an edge and have a partial tear, then throw that one away. If they’re super old but have been stored in a dark dry place for the last 8 years and they’re in amazing condition, you might feel safe enough to use them.
- Lube your cams
Lubing your cams is less of a safety issue and more of a comfort issue. Many of my cams get gunked up over the course of the year and make a loud squeaking noise when engaged. I also have a few cams that begin to get really difficult to use because of the dirt and grime. Cleaning them with boiling water, a tooth brush, and some Metolius Cam Lube, is a great way to ease up those mechanical parts and make your cams feel like new again.
Quick guide on how to clean your cams
Step 1: Boil about 1 gallon of water on the stove
Step 2: Dunk only the metal parts of your cam into the water and use an old toothbrush to scrub off the dirt and grease
Step 3: Let your cams dry and then lube the moving parts up with Metolius Cam Lube.
Step 4: Wipe off any excess cam lube
- Mark your Carabiners
Losing gear at the crag is really frustrating. I have spent multiple days searching for a piece of lost gear, interrogating everyone I recently climbed with, until finding it hidden under someone’s bed because they thought it was theirs.
Clearly and consistently marking your gear is one of the best ways to keep your gear from getting mistaken for someone else’s. Most people use their favorite color of nail polish, but many people like using electrical tape as well. I’ve even seen one guy who uses a dremel tool to engrave his name into the lobes of all of his cams. I can’t speak to the safety of that, so don’t do that, just in case. But there are many ways you can clearly mark your cams.
Make sure your markings are consistent across all of your equipment, and make sure you do this once or twice a year. It’s really easy for makings to fade and for tape to fall off.
- Resole your shoes
I LOVE a good resole. Resoling shoes is a GREAT way to save money. Resoling your shoes doesn’t ever bring them back up to their original quality, especially if you’re beating the crap out of your shoes when you use them, but it does allow you to downgrade them from your performance shoes, to your all around comfy use shoes.
I have been resoling a pair of shoes for years and I still use them almost daily. Climbing shoes are expensive and getting them resoled is a really good way to get a long life out of them
We have a whole blog post dedicated to getting your shoes resoled, which you can check out here.
- Stock up on chalk and refill your chalk socks
This one is easy! Fill up your chalk bags. Go get some of that Black Gold and make your hands sticky and grippy for the season. Chalk is cheap, and you should use it.
- Buy tape
If you’re an insane person like me, you use a lot of tape! I buy Euro Tape by the box, and I do this about twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall. Stock up on your favorite tape *cough cough* Euro Tape *cough cough* and get it in your bag!
- Purchase Band Aids and Neosporin
I still think the best way to take care of your skin is to put neosporin on it and cover it with a bandaid. Some people let their wounds dry, some people like to put the Joshua Tree Slave on it, I really like to cover them and keep them moist.
Whatever your preferred method of wound care is, stock up! You don’t want to waste time on bad skin!
- Patch Your Clothes
Needle and thread costs almost nothing, and learning to stitch and patch up your clothes is KEY to an active lifestyle. I cannot afford to buy new yoga pants every time they rip, but I CAN afford to patch the holes and keep going. This is also a good time to mention things like Tenacious Tape and No So Patches, which you can use on puffy jackets and the like.
- STRETCH and DRINK WATER
Finally, take care of your body! Drink water, wear sunscreen, take a nap, eat your veggies, put some vitamin C in your nalgene, and stretch your weary muscles. We want to have a long and productive climbing season, which means we don’t just maintain our climbing gear, we also maintain our lovely bodies.
Have fun everyone! Spring is here and that means the climbing season is too. Let’s get after it!
All photos by: Kaya Lindsay
About the Gear Tester
Kaya Lindsay is the social media coordinator for Yosemite Facelift. She is also a writer and photographer with a passion for rock climbing and the outdoors. In 2016 she converted a Sprinter Van into a tiny home and has been traveling around the US & Canada to pursue her passion for rock climbing ever since. You will most likely find her in a parking lot or coffee shop, camera in hand, planning her next adventure. Connect with her on Instagram @OneChickTravels