Slings for climbers

Posted by Dan Middleton on 17/03/2016
A climbing sling © Singingrock.com

Did you know that you can do a lot of things with a sling? Need to build a belay or improvise a chest harness? With a bit of know-how you can do it with a sling. Read on to discover more about slings, and what you can do with them to help you climb more safely.

Slings are definitely the jack-of-all-trades when it comes to climbing equipment. In the past, climbers made up their own slings from webbing tied into a loop using a tape or water knot. These days, the safer and more convenient method is to buy a sewn sling made to the EN 566:2006 standard.

Most often made from either nylon or Dyneema webbing and sewn into a strong circular loop, slings are exceptionally versatile items of equipment. Available in a variety of sizes, 120cm is by far the most useful length, although longer and shorter sizes also have their uses.

Protecting the leader

Most often, slings will be employed to make use of rock features or trees to protect the lead climber. Slings can be placed over rock spikes, used to thread holes or go around chockstones or trees. On most trad routes you may want to carry at least a couple of slings, often more, to make use of these features.

Slings become even more useful for winter mountaineering, when rock features can often be the most reliable protection on offer - longer slings to go around blocks or small pinnacles can be very handy.

Linking protection

Another job for slings is attaching other pieces of protection to the rope. Usually the climber does this with shorter ready-made links called quickdraws, which are a short sling connecting two karabiners. If a longer link or extension is needed, a longer sling can be used instead. A sling can also be used to link several protection pieces together, either when making a belay, or equalising multiple pieces together.

Safety lanyard

Most of the time, the climber will use the rope to connect themselves to belays. Sometimes though, you'll want to have the rope free and use something else as a lanyard to connect you. A good example is when abseiling down multiple pitches - you'll need to clip into a belay as you pull the ropes down. A sling can be used, with suitable care, to do this.

There's more!

If all that doesn't seem enough, slings can also be used for many rescue and self-rescue purposes. A sling with a Klemheist knot can be used to help escape the belay system or ascend the rope. An injured climber can be kept upright with an emergency chest harness made with a sling.

Be careful

Ok, so you get the picture, slings are amazing. They have their limitations though - they wear out and become damaged more easily than a rope because the load bearing material is always exposed. They won't dissipate the energy of a fall, so when used as a lanyard you must take great care to try and keep them weighted and avoid falling onto them. Still, these multi-purpose bits of kit take some beating when it comes to usefulness to the climber.

WATCH: Checking a sling for damage BMC TV

 

WATCH: Multiple abseils part 1 BMC TV

 


Autumn Rocks! 

Bag a bargain this autumn with our fantastic deal on all single-trip BMC Rock Insurance policies. That works out at only £44 for ten days!

We've been insuring climbers like you for over 30 years. That's why all of our policies come with:

  • 24-hour emergency assistance helpline
  • £10 million emergency medical cover
  • £100,000 search, rescue and recovery cover
  • £10,000 personal accident cover
  • £5,000 cancellation cover
  • £2,500 baggage cover
  • No age loading until you're 70

WATCH: BMC Insurance: Get out there

Want to know more? READ: 5 reasons why you need BMC Travel Insurance

*Policy details: £43.98 for 10-day rock insurance valid on all single-trip European Rock cover up to age 69.


« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 21790 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Courses, workshops and lectures with the BMC
3
Courses, workshops and lectures with the BMC

There are a range of courses, lectures, workshops and training opportunities that the BMC organises to bring the best value possible to its members.
Read more »

Wanted! Volunteers for the technical committee
0
Wanted! Volunteers for the technical committee

Do you have some spare time and energy on your hands? Do you want to give something back to the climbing and walking community? If the answer is yes, then the BMC needs you!
Read more »

Online climbing gear: are you buying safe equipment?
3
Online climbing gear: are you buying safe equipment?

It's becoming common to shop online rather than take time out from our busy lives to physically visit a shop. The convenience, range of choice, and often better prices, make buying online incredibly attractive. But don't be caught out: there are some nasty surprises awaiting the unwary!
Read more »

Post a Comment
Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
1
1) Anonymous User
03/05/2016
What about the things you shouldn't do with a sling? e.g. tying knots in Dyneema? The advantages of nylon vs. Dyneema.
Thanks
Steve Clegg

RELATED ARTICLES

Courses, workshops and lectures with the BMC
3

There are a range of courses, lectures, workshops and training opportunities that the BMC organises to bring the best value possible to its members.
Read more »

Wanted! Volunteers for the technical committee
0

Do you have some spare time and energy on your hands? Do you want to give something back to the climbing and walking community? If the answer is yes, then the BMC needs you!
Read more »

Online climbing gear: are you buying safe equipment?
3

It's becoming common to shop online rather than take time out from our busy lives to physically visit a shop. The convenience, range of choice, and often better prices, make buying online incredibly attractive. But don't be caught out: there are some nasty surprises awaiting the unwary!
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £15.72.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »