Are you feeling “height challenged” on some sport climbing routes, stretching on your tiptoes to clip that just out of reach bolt?
How about aid climbing on a bolt or rivet ladder, where you’re sure the first ascensionist must’ve been Wilt Chamberlain’s big brother, because the dang bolts seem like they're 6 feet apart?
Here's your answer - the DIY “stiffy” quickdraw.
It’s long enough to significantly extend your reach by a foot or so, and it has a magic carabiner at the top that clips a bolt hanger without you ever touching it. Let's learn how to make it.
There’s two key items of gear you need to make the stiffy Quick Draw.
25 cm Petzl Express sling
Mad Rock Trigger Wire carabiner
The Petzl Express sling is wide, stiff, and sort of an old school looking “dogbone”. You want to use it here because it’s extra stiff because of the sturdy webbing and wide bar tacks.
The Mad Rock Trigger Wire is a specialized carabiner that has a cleverly designed metal “trigger” that swings down and hold holds the gate open. Tap the little trigger into a bolt hanger and the gate immediately snaps shut. (Every time I use this carabiner I think of a mousetrap, not sure why.)
Need to make one at the crag on the spot? You can try taping two sticks to the webbing, and then prop the carabiner gate open with a twig. It might work, but then again, it might not. This is a fairly inexpensive project; the sling is about $8 and the carabiner is about $7, so it’s probably within budget.
(Kong makes a similar device, with the great name of “Panic”, but it’s about $40. I prefer $15, thank you very much.)
Now, you can make this without using the express sling. But, most slings are not stiff enough to stand up on their own. If you use something different, you're probably going have to add some extra stiffener and some tape to the side of the draw to make it stand up properly. Try a couple of chopsticks taped to the draw, or maybe some thick plastic cut from a bottle. But hey, don't be a cheapskate, just get a Petzl Express draw and you'll be happy.
One note: Petzl draws come with a little u shaped rubber band thing (They call it a “String”) that's designed to hold the bottom, or rope clipping carabiner, in place so it does not rotate. In this case, you need to use the “String” on the trigger wire carabiner, which is going to be on the top. This is not the ideal way to use the String, because it's possible that the gate can become unclipped or the carabiner can become loaded in a dangerous way, if the draw rotates as you climb above it. So, you should swap out the stiffy draw with a regular one once you get up a little bit higher on your route.
Tip - If you can procure another “String” rubber band thingy, or maybe a stout rubber band cut from a bicycle inner tube, add one of these to the bottom carabiner. This may give you enough extra stiffness so you don't even have to hold the draw, you can hold the bottom of the lower carabiner and give yourself about an extra 3 inches of reach.
Get this gear in Portland OR at Next Adventure. Support your local climb shop!
About to clip. Note the L O N G extra reach.
The trigger wire about to contact the bolt hanger . . .
and CLICK, you're safely clipped.