Express quickdraws are the ones we normally buy, each composed of two carabiners attached to a sling. Quick-draws integrity is very crucial, and you should check and clean them regularly, making sure the gate opens and closes correctly and swiftly. A little drop of WD40 plays magic! If a quick-draw do not closes properly and we fall with a low Fall Factor we risk breaking it and incurring in some serious accident. Remember that an open carabiner loses two-thirds of its strength!
The carabiners used in quickdraws are directional and have three different types of gate.
- Straight-gate carabiners are used on the upper side of the quick-draw, to be connected to the spit.
- Curved-gate carabiners are used on the lower side and have a gentle curve help inserting the rope.
- Wire-gate carabiners can be used on both upper and lower side of the quickdraw. They are lighter than the others and last longer, as do not collect dirt and are not affected by ice.
Wire-gate carabiners were introduced to climbing in 1994 by Utah-based manufacturer BlackDiamond. Since then wire-gate carabiners are slowly taking over the market. They are noticeably lighter than normal carabiner and seem to perform better and even last longer. As opposed to classic spring-operated gates, wire-gate do not fear jamming in extreme conditions and does not collect snow or dust. Thanks to these features, alpine climbers frequently use wire-gate carabiners when climbing on ice or mixed conditions.
European Standards require quickdraws slings to withstand a force of 22kN, but do not state the minimum or maximum length. Each problem we climb may require different types of lengths, depending whether it runs up straight or moves sideways or around arêtes. When climbing a sport route we can use very short quickdraws, while multi-pitches frequently need some long ones to pass around corners or overtake roofs. Changes of direction are very frequent in multi-pitches, and many climbers carry at least one or two very long quickdraws 25cm or more). This is to avoid the rope scratching on corners, making it harder for the climber to progress.
PS: if a quickdraw falls from a height, you should mark it and stop using it for climbing, even if it doesn’t show any damage. The impact to the ground may cause internal micro-fractures to the carabiners, which could snap if falling on it.