Care and maintenance of climbing equipment

Care and maintenance of climbing equipment

Care and maintenance of climbing gear

Climbing equipment must be checked regularly and properly maintained. This will not only increase the service life of the parts, but will also keep the gear in working order, providing much of safety. Regular inspections and proper storage should be part of climbing practice, like learning new techniques. Careful maintenance will help detect potential problems before they become a safety hazard. This article provides some tips for maintaining and caring of your equipment.

» Service life, maximum period of use
» Rope care
» Checking and maintaining your harness
» Carbiner: visual inspection methods
» Regular inspection and cleaning of cams, pulleys, ascenders
» Loops and lanyards

Service life, maximum period of use

The actual service life of equipment is difficult to accurately determine, since it is influenced by various factors (environment, weather, storage conditions, intensity of use, etc.). However, manufacturers usually indicate the maximum service life of their products - based on the timing of production and commissioning, optimal storage and intensity of use described in the technical sheet/instructions. For example, the Italian company Climbing Technology for its textile and plastic products gives a maximum service life of 12 years from the date of manufacture and no more than 10 years from the date of commissioning. In theory, the maximum service life of metal devices is considered unlimited, but it is recommended to replace them every 10 years of operation. For a dynamic rope, the maximum shelf life for occasional use is 10 years, and for intensive use from 3 months to a year (if there is no obvious damage to the rope).

You should carefully study the manufacturer's instructions and product data sheets, which always indicate service life, operating conditions, defect detection criteria, lubricant composition for rubbing parts (if any), etc. The manufacture date is always shown on the package. This information will help determine how safe your equipment is and whether it can be used in the future.

Sometimes, by a strong-willed decision, it is still worth replacing the old loops, quickdraws or harness with new ones, even if the old things are still intact in appearance and without obvious damage.

Rope care

Rope care

Climbing ropes require regular inspection and maintenance to ensure safe and reliable use. Visually and tactilely check the condition of the rope each time before and after use:

visually: inspect the rope for scuffs or cuts in the braid, sun fading, bulging core or any damage.
by touch: check the entire length of the rope, looking for changes in density or irregularities in diameter.

If you find serious damage, do not use this rope for belaying. Follow rope handling and safety precautions when in use.


Heavy dirt, sand in the braid, etc. can reduce the service life of the rope and deteriorate its physical properties. Therefore, it is recommended to periodically clean it with a dry soft brush or gently wash it in cool water with soap or special cleaning products. You need to dry the rope by hanging it in a well-ventilated place, not in low temperatures and without direct exposure to ultraviolet rays.

Transportation and storage

The rope should be carried inside a backpack or in a special protective bag/case. A rope fastened to the outside of a backpack can be damaged - for example, from ultraviolet radiation during long treks; it can get wet from rain and become heavier (as a result of which its characteristics will deteriorate). Physical or chemical damage can occur on public transport or in the trunk of a car. Before storing, be sure to dry the rope if it is wet. The rope should be stored in a dark and ventilated area without extreme temperatures or exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Do not leave knots tied in the rope.

How to store and clean your harness

Checking and maintaining the harness

To extend its service life and be confident in the reliability and safety of your harness, you need to check it regularly and, if necessary, clean it of dirt.

Before and after use, visually inspect all seams and tapes for wear, fraying or damage. Inspect buckles for corrosion and deformation. Check the power/main loop especially carefully - it is most susceptible to wear. Do not make changes to the design or try to repair your harness yourself, as this may lead to irreparable consequences. If you notice obvious damage or have been using your harness regularly for more than 5 years, replace it.


To remove magnesium or obvious dirt, it is enough to sometimes treat the harness with a dry soft brush/cloth. You can also wash it in soapy water and then rinse thoroughly. Dry in a ventilated place, away from direct sunlight. These procedures can be carried out periodically, depending on the conditions and intensity of use.

Transportation and storage

It is advisable to transport the harness in a special bag to prevent damage due to contact with sharp parts of other equipment (crampons, ice ax, ice screws). Before storing, thoroughly clean and dry the harness to prolong its service life.

Carabiner: visual inspection methods

Conducting a visual inspection of your carabiners is an important aspect of maintaining your climbing equipment.

Inspect the entire surface of the carabiner for any signs of cracks or damage. Pay special attention to abrasions and burrs on the main shoulder of the carabiner. The presence of burrs can lead to rapid wear of the rope, and deep abrasions (more than 1 mm) can lead to destruction of the carabiner structure.

Check the operation of the latch and lock - they should operate without squeaks or jams. Periodically they need to be cleaned of sand and dirt. It doesn't hurt to lubricate occasionally: manufacturers recommend a silicone-based oil spray for this procedure. Excess lubricant will need to be removed - it promotes the adhesion of dust and sand. Do not clean latch, lock and rubbing parts with WD and CARB type fluids - they can cause premature corrosion.

If you find wear greater than 1 mm, large burrs, or a non-functioning lock, remove this carabiner from circulation. Under no circumstances should you use it as an auxiliary one: during the climb, it may end up in the belay chain as an element on which your safety depends! Remember that a carabiner dropped from a great height onto a hard surface may have invisible microcracks, which can subsequently lead to its destruction.

Transportation and storage

It is advisable to carry or transport carabiners in a bundle, attached to each other - this way there is less chance of losing a separate carbiner. Store in a dry condition with the lock closed.

Inspection and cleaning of cams, rollers and pulleys

Regular inspection and cleaning of cams, pulleys, ascenders

In this section we will talk about the ascenders, pulleys and friends. All these devices are united by the presence of rubbing parts and hinges. Of course, these types of equipment are not as frequently used as carabiners or ropes, but they also require proper care and maintenance. Their safe operation directly depends on the condition of the axles, hinges and springs.

Please note during visual inspection:

⇒ friends/camalots: evaluate the condition of the tensioner and the main axis, check the smoothness and amplitude of the cams, the elasticity of the spring and the integrity of the entire mechanism. If the cams do not move smoothly enough, clean the axle and lubricate it.

⇒ pulleys: with frequent and intensive use, careful maintenance of the roller axes is required. Factory lubricant in the rollers tends to leak out over time, causing squeaks and premature wear of the axle. If squeaks are heard when moving under load, or the rollers do not rotate easily enough, it would not hurt to clean and lubricate them.

⇒ ascender - this device has a spring-loaded eccentric cam mounted on an axis on the handle. When visually inspecting the ascender, pay attention to abrasions and deformation of the body. It is also important to inspect the cam for abrasion of the working surface, smoothness of movement and spring elasticity. Clean and lubricate if necessary. Check the operation of the limiter and latch. If the body and cam are significantly worn or damaged, or the rubbing parts have large play, then the ascender is unsafe.


As a rule, the axles and rubbing parts become dirty, and excess lubricant contributes to the adhesion of dust and dirt. Simply clean these areas with warm soapy water using a suitable brush. Cleaning with compressed air is very effective, but this requires access to an air pump. Fluids such as CFRB or WD are not suitable for cleaning, they will accelerate corrosion and may have a detrimental effect on plastic washers or parts. Lubricate only with silicone-based oil spray or special lubricant recommended by the manufacturer.

Transportation and storage

Ascenders or friends/camalots should be stored so that the cams are not in the cocked position. In this (free) state, the springs are not tense, so they will not weaken ahead of time. Dry condition is very important for long-term storage.

Loops and lanyards (textile)

Loops and lanyard

Quickdraws, lanyards and loops are textiles that are used as one of the main elements (links) in the belay chain. If, for example, the service life for carabiners is unlimited in the absence of damage, then for textiles it is limited and amounts to 10 years - and even then only in ideal conditions. During actual use in the mountains and on rocks, where equipment is affected by rain, snow, sun, and mechanical influences, the maximum service life of textile elements is significantly reduced.

The assessment of operability and the possibility of further use must take into account two factors: external damage and period/conditions of use. Each time before and after use, visually inspect the products, carefully check the seams and places of constant contact with the carabiner.

Transportation and storage

Store textiles in a dry place and in a dry condition. When packing, do not twist or compact the tapes. If you use a rope lanyard, untie the knots after use and during storage. Constantly tied knots can change the structure of the rope and weaken it.


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