Water, Salt, and Debris: How to Protect Your Climbing Equipment
If you are new to the sport of climbing, you might not yet be sure of what kind of maintenance your equipment needs to perform safely. One thing that you need to know is that in order to protect your equipment from failure, you should be sure to keep your equipment safe and dry. This is especially true if you are climbing in an area that has salt water. So, what exactly can happen if your equipment gets wet?
Corrosion of Metal
Salt water is especially damaging to metal equipment such as bolts and carabiners. Metal can corrode under any wet condition, but it will corrode even faster when there is salt present. This is because of the way that salt reacts with metal to create a chemical transformation.
When your equipment becomes wet and begins to corrode, your metal equipment can fail. This corrosion can lead to tiny cracks that can break when there is stress placed on it from a load of weight (your body weight as you are a couple of stories above ground).
Caring for Metal Equipment
To care for you metal climbing equipment, you should make sure that you clean any debris or salt off of your equipment after you are done using it. This is especially true if you have been climbing near an ocean. Even if you don’t think that your equipment got wet, an ocean breeze can have some salt mixed in.
Caring for Ropes
If you are concerned about keeping your rope in good condition for as long as possible, this is the one time that you might intentionally get your gear wet. Washing a rope can prolong the life of a rope by getting out any particles that would cause the rope to degrade. The water should be clean and free of detergent. You should not use a heavy detergent. This makes it difficult to completely get the detergent out of the closely knitted braiding. Any traces of detergent that are left behind can degrade a rope. Instead of using detergent, try placing your rope in a mesh bag and washing it on a cold, long cycle. Then lay it out to dry. Don’t place it in the sun, rather, lay it in a ventilated area.
Even though salt is aluminum and steel equipment’s worst enemy, no equipment should remain wet for too long. Depending on the climb, it might not be feasible to completely avoid getting your equipment wet. However, if you do, make sure to remove any debris and allow it to dry as soon as you are done with your climb.