A few years ago I was talking to Andy Parkin about what rack he takes on big routes and he mentioned a number of specialist items he always carried – just in case. This was a karabiner that contained two hooks, two Birdbeaks and two copperheads. With these Andy reckoned he could get past any section of rock that barred its way. If he couldn’t then that meant only bolts would do and that meant for Andy that the rock won. Since then I know a few climbers who’ve used Andy’s mini aid rack to good use so here’s a quick rundown of what to buy if you want to build one.
2x Black Diamond Cliffhangers.
Lightweight and strong enough to hold a fall if climbing on skinny ropes, these allow you to hook flakes and holes, either for progress or a rest (I don’t think they’ll mind me telling you but Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden both use these for resting on lead). They can also be used as makeshift fifi hooks, attached to a longer piece of cord and tucked into your harness.
Hooks are best strung with 4mm cord rather than tape as the cord is less abrasion resistant and the knot is more likely to shift.
2x Black Diamond size 2 Peckers
A cross between a RURP, knifeblade and a hook the pecker is a very useful piece of kit, both for aid and protection. They will fit into RP 0 to RP 2 sized cracks and have a surprisingly high holding power and grip.
2x COPPER HEADS
Probably the least useful part of the kit unless you do a lot of climbing on limestone or metamorphic rock, the copper head is used as a malleable nut, able to be hammered into constrictions where nothing else will work.