Q. Why should I buy from East Ridge Outfitters?

A. East Ridge Outfitters is an independently-owned gear shop in PA that supports the local climbing, hiking, trail running, and conservation communities. By showing your support through your purchases and sharing our business with friends, you are encouraging the growth of access funds and conservation efforts in Central Pennsylvania. East Ridge Outfitters works closely with local rock climbing gyms, scout groups, and schools to encourage passion for the outdoors by sponsoring climbing competitions, clean & climb events, hill runs & other charitable organizations and events. Your patronage makes this possible.

Q. Where are the rest of your products? I know you carry more in the store than what I see here…

A. East Ridge Outfitters is adding new products every day! Our website is still being completed. If you have a question about merchandise that we carry, please call us. We can ship any item in our store to you or you can choose in-store pick up. Or, better yet, swing by our store to see everything and take advantage of our sales! We would love to meet you!

Q. Do you sell or rent used gear?

A. For the safety of our customers, we do not sell or rent gear that has already been used. Technical rock climbing gear, such as ropes, harnesses, helmets or hardware are considered life saving devices and we cannot be liable for the failure of gear that has not been cared for properly in its previous lifetime. Factors such as, but not limited to, direct sunlight, high heat, harsh cleaning solutions, accidents, excessive wear, age, and poor storage choices can all lead to gear failure. We hope to educate climbers on the hazzards of buying/using second hand climbing gear.

Q. When should I retire my harness or climbing rope?

A. It’s so awesome that you love your gear so much that you want to use them, forever, but there are a few factors to consider when deciding if your soft goods are safe to use. Since your harness, slings and rope are basically your lifeline when climbing, you should retire them immediate if there are any doubts in your mind that they may be unsafe. Here are some additional tips to help you decide:

1) Age. So, you haven’t climbed in 10 years and want to get that old harness and rope out this weekend? You may want to think twice. The standard industry lifespan for nylon climbing products, like harnesses, slings, and rope is 7 years. If you have a product older than that, it should be retired regardless of how it was kept/stored — even if it’s brand new. Over time, structural material breaks down and the strength and itegridgy of the product is past it’s lifespan. It is recommended, because of the amount of use the gear endures, that weekend warriors retire their harnesses/ropes after 3-4 years and mountain guides, climbing professionals, and full-time climbers should retire their harnesses/ropes after 1 year. In the event of a major fall or impact, retire the harnesses/ropes immediately.

2) Excessive Wear. Excessive fraying or discoloring of the harness, slings, or rope are signs that the gear should be retired. Some harnesses have orange wear-mark indicators stitched beneath tie-in points and the belay loop to visually help show when the harness needs to be retired. Inspect your rope both visually and physically by running your hand over the entire length of the rope. If the rope has any sheath degradation, where the core is visible or coming through, or if it is punctured or glazed, it’s time to replace the rope. Often times the ends of a rope wear faster if loaded, due to tying and knotting. If this is the ase, it may be possible to cut off the damaged section of the rope and continue using the rest.

Q. Ok, cool. What’s the best way to care for my Harness and Rope?

A. Great question! When your harness gets dirty, try simple rinsing first. You may also hand wash a harness in warm water with a mild detergent (or try our Sterling Rope Wash!) and then rinse. NEVER use bleach. Allow it to air dry away from sunlight. Speaking of sunlight, keep your gear away from direct sunlight, corrosive substances (e.g., battery acids, gasoline, solvents, bleach) or any other potentially hamaging objects. Don’t leave your harness in your trunk or basement — keep it in a stuff sack in a dry, dark place that is free of any contaminants. Always transport it in a supplied bag and always keep it away from sharp objects like ice screws, axes, crampons, and knives.

Sterling Rope recommends that you wash your rope after approximately 30-40 uses, or if the rope has excessive dirt throughout the sheath. You can read more about that on Sterlings Website here: http://www.sterlingrope.com/faq.

Q. Is it okay to use carabiners that have been dropped?

A. Unfortunately, the only way to know if “dropped” carabiners are fit for use is to test them to their breaking point. This doesn’t do you much good, now does it? It’s best to inspect dropped gear for dings and significant trauma. If only light scratching is visible and gate action is still good, there is a good chance it is fit for usage. Remember, only you know what your gear has been through and if there is any doubt, it’s best to retire the gear rather than take a risk.

Q. When should I retire my carabiners?
A. Here are our suggestions on what to look for when retiring aluminum carabiners:

1) Check for good gate action: The open-gate strength of carabiners is roughly 1/3 of the closed-gate strength. If a biner has a gate that rubs or sticks open, it should be cleaned and lubed. If this does not improve gate action, the biner should be retired. The same holds true for any gate locking mechanism.

2) Check for excessive wear: If you can feel that the rope-bearing surfaces of the biner are significantly worn (wearing off the anodization is normal after a few uses) the biner should be retired.

3) Check for deformation: If a biner has been loaded such that the body or nose has deformed—or the carabiner gate rivets have been bent (this usually results in poor gate action)—the biner should be retired.

4) Check for nicks or deep scratches: If a biner has nicks or deep gouges beyond the normal light scratching that occurs in use, it should be retired. Carabiners are more susceptible to surface damage near the nose hook or within an inch of the bending radii of the body.

5) Has the carabiner been exposed to extreme heat? If a biner has been exposed to “extreme heat” (i.e. a fire) it should be retired and destroyed due to possible negative effects to the heat treatment the carabiner underwent when it was made.

6) Has the carabiner been exposed to harsh chemicals or excessive corrosion? If your carabiner has been exposed to aggressive chemicals (like battery acid, petroleum-based fuel, ect.) it’s a good idea to retire the biner. Likewise, any corrosion beyond the normal thin gray/white oxidation layer that forms on exposed aluminum should be grounds for retirement, especially if it starts to affect gate action (see #1).

In closing: Keep in mind that only YOU know what your gear has been through. If your instincts tell you that the gear is dubious, retiring it is a good idea. Confidence in your equipment is not only key to climbing at your limit but helps you stay relaxed and having fun.