So let’s just say, hypothetically speaking, that your trad rack is starting to look pretty respectable. You’ve got your mitts on a handful of wires and a collection of cams, maybe even some doubles in popular sizes…
But the gear nerd in you is not sated, and like a colourblind bowerbird, you long for a shiny new addition to your nest. A wise climber will consider the terrain in which they most often find themselves and complement their rack accordingly, but the question remains – what are the most useful “niche” trad pieces for South East Queensland climbing? Let’s explore the options.
You may already have some of these in your rack, and rightly so! As a matter of fact, you should probably aim for doubles. Many Frog Buttress and Tibrogargan routes feature an above average number of microcam placements, so you’d be mad not to have them. However, something I learned the hard way is that small cams have small margins of error, so take care with these little guys.
SEQ Usefulness Rating: 10/10
Take a look at: Black Diamond X4’s, Aliens
Ever had one of those awful, flaring cracks where the cam lobes just won’t sit right? This is where offset cams shine. Although offsets are very nifty, they are also very specific. I’ve never carried them, and unless I had some uber-detailed gear beta that specified the need for one in crucial point, I can’t imagine I ever will. That said, they may ease the nerves in some of those weird Tibro slots where nothing ever seems to fit.
SEQ Usefulness Rating: 3/10
Take a look at: Black Diamond X4’s
Photo by Ryan Siacci
Again, these will fit into hard-to-protect constrictions where a normal nut just won’t cut the mustard. But unlike offset cams, offset nuts are relatively cheap and much easier to rack. If you don’t already have two racks of wires, you should seriously consider making purchasing a full set of offset nuts as your secondary rack.
I’ve never whipped onto an RP, so I can’t vouch for them in such scenarios. But I’ve placed plenty that gave me a bit of “psychological protection”, and they worked a treat in this regard. Also, the RP is an Australian invention, so you’re constitutionally required to carry some. Do the right thing.
Photo by Ryan Siacci
The humble hex gets a bad rap these days, but it still has many ardent admirers. You can count me as one of them, and I can categorically state that a bomber hex placement is the most secure protection this side of the glue-in ring bolt. Many crags in SEQ take excellent hex placements, with Frog Buttress and Upper Main Wall on Mt Ngungun springing to mind.
SEQ Usefulness Rating: 7/10
Take a look at: Wild Country Rockcentrics, Black Diamond Hexcentrics
Now we’re starting to get into the weeds. I have literally never placed a tricam in Queensland, which isn’t so much an indictment of the gear but rather reflects specificity of the piece. Tricams tend to work well in horizontal breaks and pockets, and as most SEQ trad has very few of these features, you can probably spend your money better elsewhere.
SEQ Usefulness Rating: 2/10
Take a look at: CAMP Tricams
Photo by Ryan Siacci
Wide cracks are not everyone’s cup of tea… but then again, neither is trad climbing, and neither is rock climbing in general, so you can consider this a niche within a niche within a niche. There are some quite splendid offwidths at Frog, and all self-respecting trad climbers should get into them! And when they do, they should avail themselves of the Big Bro, which is certainly better than cutting out pieces of PVC pipe like the first ascenionists of Juggernaut did!
SEQ Usefulness Rating: 6/10
Take a look at: Trango Big Bros
Ballnuts seem weirdly specific until you start using them, and then you find placements everywhere! They excel in small parallel cracks where cams won’t fit, providing a bomber placement in thin conditions. These could be just the thing you need for those desperately small cracks on Tibrogargan where an RP just won’t do.
If you're still on the way to kitting out your first trad rack and not sure how it should look at the end of the day, check out this comprehensive guide written by our friends at Zen and the Art of Climbing.
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