Basic Big Wall Gear

by John Middendorf

Big-wall climbs are, amoung other things, technological achievements. The management of more items than contained in a small mountain shop can be a considerable task in itself. The actual climbing is, by comparison, simple. The trick is to keep things under control with an organized gear management system.

Big walls are gear intensive, but its possible to get started on the big stones with a moderate amount of additional gear aquisition, dependent on the amount of improvization and borrowing that is done. The following is a basic checklist of the gear required.

Main Equipment


Personal Wall Gear (per climber)

Pre-big-wall tips

Buy food (canned pasta and bagels are good staples) outside of the Valley for the best deals. Sew clip-in loops on all the stuff sacks and sleeping bags. Add tie-off loops to everything, including the water bottles. Maybe saw off some 3/4" (and larger) angles for some shorty pitons. Get psyched, and remember that the first day or two of the wall are the hardest.

Above: Big Wall Rack

Above: Nose-In-A-Day Rack, 1984