1. Get rid of your auto-locking carabiners.
Let's face it, auto-locking carabiners have their place. And that place is in a climbing gym (or some may argue during an AMGA Guide exam!). In the alpine terrain however, having a mixed rack of auto-locking and screw-gate carabiners can lead to confusion and potentially even un-locked carabiners. Additionally, auto-locking carabiners are more prone to sticking/freezing in an unlocked/locked position, and are extremely difficult to handle with one hand. I made a quick video showing me trying to put a one handed clove hitch into a auto-locking carabiner versus a screw-gate. To be fair, I practiced many times with the auto-locking carabiner and was actually able to do it one handed, even though it was still very difficult. With gloves on - not sure I could have done it. Additionally you can even see it stick for a second in between me putting the rope in, and then getting the clove in. With the screw-gate biner, it's as smooth as silk pie. Of course I would have locked the carabiner afterwards too if I was using it appropriately.
Perhaps I only saved a few seconds and a small amount of effort, but in the alpine - everything counts.
2. Use wire-gates, and size them appropriately.
Wire-gate carabiners are lighter, less prone to freezing and "gate-flutter," and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. For non-lockers, there is little to no reason (if you have the available budget) to get anything but a wire-gates for the alpine terrain. Sure you could spring for key-locking wire-gates that have a hooded nose, or use your key-locking solid gate carabiners for sport climbing - but in the alpine it's all about weight and functionality. Additionally, choose the size that makes sense. I always used to go with the lightest, smallest wire-gate, until I found that those are extremely hard to open with gloves on. Although you generally want to go as light as possible when your climbing hard, alpine terrain - you still want to be able to use your gear. Going with a lightweight but slightly larger wire-gate serves me well when I've got heavy gloves on.
|Two differently sized wire-gates. The one on the left I like to use for ice climbing when I have gloves on. The one on the right I prefer for rock climbing when I have more dexterity.|
Program Coordinator & Guide