We dispatched daredevil photographer Joe McGorty to Italy’s Dolomites with Arc’teryx Trips to experience the largest, most spectacular limestone climbing area in the Alps. His first day’s report read: “Biggest climb ever, most heart-stopping abseil… and this is the easy warm-up day.”
Here’s the climbing kit you need to make like McGorty in 2020 plus some pro tips to make it off the indoor climbing wall.
Arc’teryx Proton LT Hoody
As comfortable to wear as your favourite old hoody, this supremely technical mid-layer is exceptionally durable – essential when dealing with rock faces and rope abrasions – warm and breathable thanks to Arc’teryx’s own Fortius Air 20 fabric and a healthy layer of Coreloft Compact 80 synthetic insulation. Rated to be 60 times more durable than the industry standard, it will survive years of high-intensity activity and, we suspect, plenty of hunkering down on the sofa.
Big arms look great, but strong fingers are the most important strength to have for climbing, and a Fingerboard offers a fast-track route to developing your digits. It’s a punishing thing to get to grips with, but will bring rapid improvements to your climbing and fitness levels on the wall (particularly when combined with the Beastmaker training app, £3, iOS, Android).
Price: £80 | Beastmaker
Mammut Comfort Knit Fast Adjust Harness
The first climbing harness with laser-cut warp-knit technology, offering unrivalled breathability and comfort, with wide-cut, super-soft edges that limit discomfort on longer routes. Weighing just 420g, it also features fast-adjust buckles on the leg loops to help with comfort and security, while the tie-in loop comes covered in plastic to minimise abrasion and extend lifespan.
Price: €170 | Mammut
Black Diamond Vapour Helmet
A good helmet should not be noticed – unless you bump your head – so this ultralight, low-profile design with breezy levels of ventilation is ideal for days on the crag. Engineered from a sheet of Kevlar and a series of carbon rods between moulded EPS foam, with a polycarbonate shell, means you get maximum protection and comfort for just 186g.
Price: €150 | Black Diamond
Five Ten Aleon Shoes
Talking about comfort and climbing shoes verges on the oxymoronic, but the super-stretchy Primeknit upper used here has the triple advantage of increasing foot sensitivity, breathability and the ability to get them off quickly between bouldering problems. The medium-stiff bouldering shoe has a moderate downturn (that’s a concave toe design) and reassuringly grippy sole, though beginners should ideally start with something a little more forgiving.
Beal Tiger 10 mm UNICORE Rope
Every individual core and strand in this 10mm rope has been treated with a hydrophobic chemical formula and polymerised at high temperature before manufacturing to ensure it remains frost and water resistant. As a result, it doesn’t gain significant weight when wet (3 per cent absorption compared with 50 per cent for untreated rope) and remains supple through carabiners, and abrasion-resistant for longevity.
From bouldering to brave new heights
How to graduate from indoor climbing to the real thing
Pull plenty of plastic
Some 1.5 million people visited an indoor wall in 2018, and bouldering on walls no more than five metres high is a great way to try climbing without the extensive kit list or potential acrophobia. The plastic holds are colour coded according to difficulty, and it’s easy to progress, even for beginners.
The ideal first step to climbing with ropes, the auto belay is a retractable rope system that catches you when you fall, or when you want to abseil back down a route from the top. Using a combination of electromagnetic induction and centrifugal force, it replaces the need for a belay partner … for now.
Train indoors for out
The British Mountaineering Council organises a range of indoor courses designed to teach the basic skills of rock climbing – rope tying, belaying, harness fastening, not dying – before you head to the rockface. Your local climbing centre will also offer a host of courses for all abilities.
Until this point, finding a car-parking space was the only logistical hurdle to enjoying a climb, but out in the wild you’ll need Gaia, the backcountry app that’s rapidly replacing handheld GPS units. You can download unlimited climbing routes (“topos”), record trip distance and elevation and basically not get lost on your approach.
Price: From $19.99 | Android/iOS
When the time comes to take your practice to a proper precipice, Arc’teryx is now offering tailored adventures to the wildest places on Earth. The Arc’teryx Trips programme – for climbing, trail running and mountaineering – includes unrivalled access to the world’s best guides. With a maximum of 12 guests per group, you’re virtually guaranteed to improve technique and push your boundaries.
Price: From $2,300 per person | Arcteryx
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