There are many tricks and techniques to moving faster in the mountains. They saying goes “speed is safety”, maybe that’s why Ueli Steck is so fast? Having systems in place to stream line, organize, and add efficiency to your climbing are essential to success on longer more involved climbs. The idea is to spend more time climbing and less time managing all the gear.
One such technique is organizing the way you rack. If you rack your gear close to the same way as possible every time you will spend less time thinking and organizing gear at each belay. On a ten pitch climb x 10 minutes at each belay, you would use up 100 minutes (1 hour 40min)of time just transitioning from one pitch to the next. This could equal the difference of leading the last pitch in the dark or watching the sunset on your bumper with a cold frosty!
There are many ways to rack gear, play around with it and find out what system works for you. This is the point, figure out a streamed lined system and do it the same way every time. Some like gear slings, I like to put most if not all my gear on my harness.
My system is as follows:
(From front to rear)
Right side front gear loop: a set of stoppers on one carabineer, small to large cams.
Right side rear gear loop: 4 to 6 draws clipped in pairs of 2 to save space, a belay device with 2 lockers, and a cordelett.
Left side front gear loop: a second set and or additional stoppers, second set of cams small to large.
Left side rear gear loop: 4 to 6 draws clipped in pairs of 2, cordelett and or other anchor material (double length sling), additional lockers if needed.
Gear loop: disposable carabineer with rescue kit; very small knife, a prussic, and a Tibloc.
I will of course adjust how many draws or pieces of protection I might need given the route. This also leaves room for things like a small water bottle, layer, snack’s in pockets, and approach shoes given the circumstance. If the route is long enough maybe carry a very small (18 liter) pack with water, layer, food, first aid kit, shoes etc.
If you are swinging leads, re-rack on your own harness as you follow and clean. When you get to the belay, grab the rest of the gear and rack it organized to the gear you already have. If you are leading many pitches in a row or the whole climb have the follower clean and rack on a gear sling over the shoulder. When they arrive at the belay take the whole sling and re-rack.
Not only does having a system increase efficiency it allows you to climb better. Knowing where that crucial piece of gear is at the crux will save time and energy! Figure out what works for you and send those long routes you have been dreaming of!