This story is part of a series on route development. Click this tag to see all.
I started with the basic tools and after blowing out a couple pairs of gloves, banging my knuckles, struggling to clean all different sizes and depths of cracks…. After 30-40 hrs of route development, I learned a few things and revamped my cleaning tools. I hope you can learn from my mistakes and give you an idea of what tools work well.
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
To keep my hair back and out of the way. I don’t want to touch my face or get hair out of my face when dealing with mouse/rat/bird poop.
Light weight hot-weather hat that covers neck
Keeping the sun burn down while spending all day exposed on the cliff
Used in place of hands for raking loose dirt down the cliff (lighter and smaller than full rake)
This was the nuclear option for cleaning off the top of the tier above the climbs. I hauled a rack up there and spent a couple hours racking the rock above so when you top out pebbles don’t drip down the wall.
I also used it to rake out the bottom of the cliff to create a flat dirt belay area.
Used to clean the dirt kicked up from cleaning off holds
Note: I chewed through the first two wire brushes I had which were probably just SS instead of the steel. I bought these brushes with a hope they would work better. Jury isn’t out yet if Carbon Steel will hold up better.
It helps to have a variety of tools for cracks. It can be hard to use a small tool in a big crack and visa-versa.
Attached by leash
Best tool for cleaning out the finger-sized and smaller cracks and dislodge rocks named in the crack
Thin Carbon Steel Wirebrush
Attached by carabiner
Used to help brush out cracks and weird angles
Used to brush off holds (fingers can only do so much)
Attached by chord sling
Used to dig out large cracks and scoop down/out piled up dirt
Hiking / Ski Pole
Attached by carabiner
Nuclear option tool used to get deep into the crack to dislodge mouse nests or other gross stuff. You wouldn’t want to put your hand deep into an off width move and feel mouse nest would you?
Want to see how these tools are used? Watch the short documentary on the development of Storybook Cliff.