A climber’s dream: big wall climbing

Big Wall Equipment

Many climbers dream of taking on a large, multi-day climbing route and to camp on the wall overnight. Big walls are tough climbing walls that are usually several hundred metres high and are taken on by rope teams.

You’ll need to carefully select your climbing equipment, sleeping spot, cooker, food and clothing to ensure you’re tackling that big wall with all the accessories you might need. Losing even a single piece of big wall accessory can lead the whole journey to fail.

Haul bags and Portaledges - the most important bigwall accessories

Haul bags are used to transport your gear on high climbing walls. They’re incredibly durable bags that climbers fill with everything they need to set up camp. The haul bags are pulled up behind you on the rope whilst climbing and they stop when you stop. Many rope teams will use several smaller haul bags instead of one big one to distribute the weight more evenly and make transport that much easier.

Big wall climbers will transport collapsible Portaledges in their haul bags to set up a comfortable resting spot on a vertical wall. Portaledges are similar to hanging camp beds. Their aluminium frames are pulled over with tear-resistant fabric to ensure you can sleep at belay points. Depending on the design, they offer space for up to two people and can be covered by an additional Portaledge fly, which can even be used in bad weather conditions.

Big wall accessories by Black Diamond, Edelrid and Metolius

Aside from Portaledges and haul bags, big wall climbers also use a whole spectrum of climbing gear that are typically used on shorter, multi-rope climbing routes. However, this can add some weight to your gear slings and climbing backpack.

On more technical big wall climbs, it’s recommended to have climbing slings and hammers with you. Many routes in Yosemite National Park, for example, already have the hooks set in place, but if you conquer new routes, then you’ll need to bring your own hooks with you.

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