Probably the favorite sort of protection of all clean climbers. Rock tunnels are natural rock structures that are found astonishingly often in sand and limestone. In crystalline rock they are more seldom and mostly exist on ridges where massive chunks of rock are piled on one another and thus form these rocktunnel structures.
How to use?
Put a sling around it and that’s it! But of course for that the rock part of the tunnel needs to be thick (at least wrist wide) and stable enough (unbroken, crackless and homogenous rock). The sling should preferably not sit on the thinnest part, but on a wide basis. Therefore never strangle the rocktunnel with a girth hitch like you would when using a tree. Using the girth hitch means that the sling will tighten around the thinnest (and weakest) part. So it is best to place the sling as deep as possible on the widest part. Of course, this only works optimal in vertical rock tunnels. Horizontal ones are rather delicate. If the holes are too small, using a single threaded accessory cord is worth a try.
Below the tree line, trees serve as our indispensable friends when we just can‘t find a piece that fits the shallow crack. Use them! Everything that is alive, healthy and wider than your forearm can be used as an intermediate belay, everything wider than your thigh as a belay.
How to use?
Put a sling around it and that’s it! The sling should sit close to the roots to avoid possible lateral loads on the tree. This is also valid for thick branches. It is best to use a girth hitch to keep the sling from shifting.
Slings: Rock Jags
Rock jags, where slings can quickly be put around are indispensable, especially in granite ridge climbs. But caution! Rope drag can remove the slings easily! The more edges and notches the sling is put around, the better.
How to use?
There are several methods to avoid the sling being lifted over the jag:
- Extending slings. That can reduce the risk of the sling being lifted (an extended sling is better than no sling at all!)
- Weighting or blocking the sling with several quickdraws or stones. Doing this, you need to make sure the construction will not come flying towards your partner when he/she follows.
- Use a girth hitch or an overhand knot to tighten the sling around the jag and thus make it impossible to move. But beware of the fact that knots in the sling reduce its strength by almost 50 % and even more in modern, thin dyneema slings (you better don’t use those)!
- Placing a cam or nut, so that it locks the sling in its position, even if there is strong rope drag.