Top Tips #1 Screwgates

A few years ago I wrote an article about carabiners.  It was a simple explanation about the different types available and the uses they are best suited for.  It was called ‘The Carabiner Conundrum’ and, if you want to know your HMS’s from your ovals, you can read the article here.

But knowing the different types is only half the story.  Knowing what to take on your vertical adventures is vital too.  In this top tip I’m thinking of locking carabiners (which for me will always be screwgates rather than any fancy autolock models).  How many, what type and why?

I usually only take about 4 screwgates for personal climbing (of course, like all things, that can sometimes vary according to the particular adventure).

Firstly, I take one as a dedicated belay plate biner.  This is a mid-sized pear shaped carabiner so there is plenty of working space and the ropes run smoothly.  The broad curve also ensures that the belay plate snugs up smoothly against the curve when it’s locked off.   I like this carabiner to be a completely different colour to the others so I can always find it quickly and never mix them up.

Recently, I have been loving the Petzl Attache 3D (the gold coloured carabiner in the picture) which is very light (55 grams) and also has Petzl’s Keylock system which essentially means it has a very smooth nose allowing ropes or belay plates to slide in smoothly without getting caught up.  The Attache also features Petzl’s ‘Red Lock’ indicator system which gives a clear visual guide to whether the gate is screwed up or not.  Full details on the Attache can be found on the Petzl site here.

Secondly, I like a big HMS that, although a little heavier, adds lots of versatility as a carabiner for tying in to belays.  Again, if this can be quickly identifiable from the others that’s a big help too.  The photo above shows a Mammut Bionic (the darker one with the blue screw gate) but I often carry a DMM Boa instead. Mammut's website gives full details on the Bionic here and DMM@s excellent site gives details on the Boa here

Finally, I usually carry a couple of smaller D shaped screwgates for all the other times I need a completely secure clip.  Often this is to clip into placements in my belay anchor.  For these types of task I prefer something light, strong and fairly compact like the DMM Shadow (guess which ones they are in the photo!).  Not so small it can’t be handled easily…but still small enough to be light.  Details are again on the DMM site and can be found here.

And for me, that's it.  If I find myself very short of a screwgate there are ways of increasing the security of snapgates such as using 2 and reversing their gates or changing the belay configuration so you need less of them.