Should I Clip Protection Before Placing It?

By Gear Guy | January 5th, 2018



I read a Rock and Ice article about an injury caused by not clipping the first piece of pro while building an anchor. Would it be better to clip a piece of pro before placing it? Would this reduce the potential for fall and serious injury?

—Ngoh Seh Suan

Photo: Laurel Fan.
Photo: Laurel Fan.


Clipping gear before you place it is only slightly less accident prone than walking backwards. Fall before the piece is set—a real possibil- ity—and you’ll drop about an extra six feet, or twice the distance of the extra rope you had to pull up to accompany the piece clipped to it. As you boing onto the rope, let the hollow-skull sound of that piece of gear klonking onto your head remind you of your folly.

The good news is this technique is self-limiting. Try it, and you’ll instantly learn that the weight of the rope, rope drag and friction of the rope running through the carabiner preclipped to the gear make lift- ing the gear and rope only slightly easier than hefting an anvil with one arm. Please just place and clip pro like normal and when you build an anchor, set your first piece and clip it so you have gear and a belay for the next round of anchor-building shenanigans. Gear Guy has spoken!

This article first appeared in Rock and Ice issue 247 (January 2018).

Also read Gear Guy: Are Micro Fractures Real?

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