[2] Cliff Development Tools of the Trade

July 15, 2020
All my tools laid out at the cliff

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)

Putting on my buff to help with the dust blow

A moment about gloves

It was hard to find gloves that worked for all situations so I ended up specializing:

Cleaning loose dirt

Seam-less Garden Gloves

Hand Rake (like so)

Full Rake

Cleaning branches, bushes, small trees

Garden Ratcheting Shears (Example)

Cleaning Face Holds

Brushing some holds clear of dirt

Carbon Steel Wirebrush Medium (Wirebrushes come in various hardness qualities: copper, stainless steel, carbon steel)

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.

Cleaning Cracks

Some “gardening” on lead in Yosemite

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.

Nut Tool

Thin Carbon Steel Wirebrush


Hiking / Ski Pole

Want to see how these tools are used? Watch the short documentary on the development of Storybook Cliff.