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How To Care For Your Carabiners
Climbing is essentially finding a secure spot to tie your rope, and use that rope to tie yourself safely to that secure spot. All of those tying are made possible by carabiners, so it pays to give them your keen attention while you’re on the crag or off it.
Just like any outdoor adventurer who wants to come back from any expedition unscathed, you would need to make sure that one of your most important equipment is in excellent condition at all times.
How? Below are some simple steps to get you started.
Are your carabiners' rivets missing or bent? Are there cracks, corrosions, sharp edges, excessive wear or burrs on surfaces? Look closely for hairline cracks as even as minor as these can reduce a carabiner’s strength significantly.
Gates need to open and close quickly when on the crag so make sure that any locking mechanism close freely and completely.
Anything that looks questionable on the gates should send your 'biner to retirement.
Another ‘biner enemy is fatal fall. Even though they may look unscathed outside, carabiners that have been dropped from great heights should be retired altogether as they will likely pose huge safety risks when they are accidentally mixed with internally sound ones.
Gates should always lock freely and completely, so sticky gates need to be given your immediate attention. Wash carabiners with sticky gates in warm, soapy water, rinse them well and let dry. Cleaning ‘biners this way is also crucial when they have been exposed to salt water or salt air, as interaction with these elements often result to rust. Lubricate them afterwards using dry graphite, or other non-liquid, wax-based lubricant around the hinge area, the spring hole, and the locking mechanism. Wipe off any excess lubricant, and make sure the hinge is free from dust and dirt by blowing them off (no matter how lazy that sounds).
Burrs can damage the rope and if you are not paying attention, can result to accidents when climbing. To make sure that your 'biners are free from such impending disasters, sand burrs down using 220-400 grade sandpaper. Do not file carabiners though for any other reason. If burrs can’t be smoothed out, retire your ‘biners.
Store in Dry Area
Never store ‘biners in areas that are exposed to humid or salty air, or together with damp equipment or clothing. Obviously, they should not be kept alongside corrosive chemicals either. Any of these elements can cause irreversible damage not just to carabiners but also to other equipment made of metal like belay devices.
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