The Daisy Chain

November 8, 2008

Reading Time: 14 minutes.

Most climbers are aware of the daisy chain but few know quite how best to employ it. Originally designed for big wall climbing the daisy is nothing more than a standard sling that’s sewn together to produce dozens of short loops that allow the user to adjust the length of the sling.

One end of the daisy is lark’s footed directly into your belay loop (not into the waist and leg loops), and the other end has a screwgate clipped into the end. On big walls, the daisy is used as an extra arm, with two being employed to connect aiders and jumars to the harness. For non-big wall use the daisy is used as an adjustable tether, allowing the climber to quickly clip in and out of the belay independently from the rope, used as an abseil sling, or French free and jumaring. The length is usually adjusted via either a karabiner or fifi hook attached to the belay loop (on a 20-30cm sling), with the krab being the most secure and the fifi being the easiest to clip in and out.

One big danger is if the user is only attached via clipping into the pockets and they have cross clipped two pockets rather than one then they are only connected via two bar tacks, which translates at about 2kN (200kg), meaning a biggish impact may be enough to rip out the pockets. The best daisy on the market at the moment for Alpine climbing is Wild Country’s 12mm Dyneema Daisy (£14.50/80g).

The second type of daisy is the adjustable daisy (Petzl, Metolius, Yates), which is a length of tape that can be adjusted in length via a locking buckle. The beauty of these is that the length can be instantly changed one-handed without having to mess with karabiners or daisy chains, with the downside being they aren’t full strength and so shouldn’t be used as your sole connection. They also can’t be employed in the abseil sling role.

The simplest and cheapest way to make your own daisy is to use a 120cm sling, tying a knot every 30cm down its length, although this is by far bulkier and less adjustable. The best way to stow the daisy is either to wrap it around the waist and adjust the length so it doesn’t slide down or clip it into shorter loops and clip it into the harness rack, with the aim being to have a system that can be instantly deployed when you need it.