Friday, November 8, 2013


Backclipping is one of the most common mistakes that beginning level leaders make. This is the process of misclipping a quickdraw so that the rope does not run smoothly out of the top of the carabiner, but instead runs behind the gate. If a leader falls with the rope clipped in such an orientation, it is possible that the rope could become unclipped.

This diagram from shows an incorrectly clipped rope
and how it may become unclipped in the event of a fall. Click on the photo for a larger image.

This image from shows the proper way that a rope should be clipped.
Note that the rope runs out of the top of the carabiner and over the spine.

It is quite common for those that are learning -- and even some of those that have been climbing for a long time -- not to recognize a backclipped carabiner. It is important for both leaders and belayers alike to be able to easily recognize an incorrectly clipped draw. It is also important to quickly correct this once it is recognized.

One of the best ways to avoid backclipping is to practice the art of clipping a rope into a draw. Climbers should be able to do this with both hands, regardless of the direction of the gate. This is a great technique to practice while vegging in front of the television. If you can wire it at home, then your muscles will remember how to do it and will do it right.

The following video provides a quick lesson on clipping a rope to a draw. Be sure to obtain real instruction from a live person before doing this in an environment that has consequences...

--Jason D. Martin


Unknown said...

Thanks for the article Jason . Do you feel this applies to "trad" draws as well?

Jason Martin said...

It depends on how stiff the draws are. Some trad draws just flip over and it doesn't matter. Others stay still and when that happens it does matter...


Sean said...

Without hesitation, it applies to all quickdraws, whether climbing trad or sport. Even a carabiner attached to a sling tends to hold its position with even low rope tension, so back-clipping still increases the chances of a rope unclipping itself on a fall.