As I look across The Valley, I am in awe of its tall, proud faces of granite covered with brilliant streaks of oranges, greens, and greys. The breeze slowly caresses the pines and oaks 300 feet below. I close my eyes, absorbing every part of this moment, saving it for a later date. As cliché as it is, climbing truly quiets my mind of all the anxiety, all the thousands of thoughts, and allows me to be free. When climbing, all I think about is the challenge in front of me, there is no room for mental distractions. Problems just seem smaller when they’re far away, on the ground below. In those moments, I feel alive.

That is what I feel when I look at my climbing rack: alive, and filled with gratitude for its service to moments like this. With all its anodized aluminum, colorful nylon, dyneema, and clanking quickdraws and cams. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what life was like before climbing.

Amanda Australia
Stoked after linking the first 2 pitches on “Spiral Staircase” Location: Arapiles, Victoria, Australia Pic credit: Cody Paige

Believe it or not, my first outdoor climbing experience was a multi-pitch trad route in Yosemite National Park. Previously, I had only climbed in the gym a handful of times when I invited my now-husband, Cody, on a camping trip in Yosemite.

At the time, I owned zero climbing gear, but Cody had a small trad rack of his own:

Unbeknownst to me, before the trip, he borrowed a women’s Black Diamond Momentum harness from one of our friends, grabbed an Evolv chalk bag from the giveaway pile from Lost & Found at the local climbing gym, and loaned me some 5.10 Anasazi Velcros (that were a few sizes too big for me).

I didn’t know how to use cams, lead belay, or use an ATC. Cody taught me how to lead belay on the drive up (I’m sure he accepted he was basically soloing that route). The next morning, we climbed “Sunnyside Bench,” a very beginner-friendly 3 pitch route adjacent to lower Yosemite Falls that is frequently soloed. That day made me fall in love with multi-pitch trad climbing and Cody (we even got married at Yosemite Falls later). As a result, I was addicted and knew we had to get more gear.

Our wedding registry included…

Amanda Gear Spread
The his & hers gear pile: his on the left, hers on the right, ours in the middle.

I love climbing, not just for climbing, but also as a justification to travel to and experience new places. For example, Cody and I’s honeymoon was spent climbing in Squamish, BC, Canada; a choice met with some quizzical looks and raised eyebrows from various women in my life. It’s now one of my favorite places and an annual destination for summer climbing. Each annual trip, our checked climbing gear bag includes a paper slipped into it from TSA notifying us that our bag was inspected.

Travel Pro Tip: If you’re flying a lot, I would highly recommend the Osprey Farpoint 55 pack because it has a detachable day-pack that can act as your “personal item” and the rest of the pack is a great “carry on item” that fits into any overhead bin (yes, even those tiny charter plane overhead bins). Then, once you land, you can use your pack and didn’t waste valuable suitcase space on packing your pack.

TSA Gear
One of the many TSA Notice of Baggage Inspection slips I’ve found in my luggage.

Squamish has some beautiful splitter cracks that seem to run on forever. After climbing “Slot Machine,” I realized how necessary trad-specific shoes are for foot jamming. Previously, I had gotten by with some La Sportiva Miura lace ups and La Sportiva Miura VCS which perform wonderfully for sport climbing and bouldering, but my toes were pretty crushed and I lost a couple of toenails. Consequently, I obtained some La Sportiva TC Pros which now protect my toes and ankles!

Squamish also convinced me of the need for small cams to not have to run-out long thin sections so now we have a double set of Black Diamond X4 cams that have proven to be invaluable if for nothing more than mental pro.

Color Matching Tip: Pair Black Diamond Oz carabiners as racking carabiners for the X4 and C4s since they have corresponding colors to the sizes to simplify racking and knowing what you have left to place.

The newest addition to the rack is a set of bolt plates aka “carrot hangers” obtained on a trip to climb in Australia. Words of advice about climbing in areas with carrot bolts: you must use solid gate carabiners or else your bolt plate and quick draw might fall off, making you extra run out — the Australians are not the most generous with bolt placements.

Aussie Carrots
Australian essentials: “Carrot bolts” aka bolt plates and guide books

We ended up borrowing a few carabiners and made some draws from booty gear. This is the one downside to having a set of wire gate Wild Country Heliums. Otherwise, these draws are great because they don’t snag while cleaning and are very lightweight.

Safety is my #1 priority when climbing. Having the right gear and knowing how to use it is crucial, but there never seems to be enough gear, so you trust your gear the best you can!


Any gear questions? Ask in the comments!


This Gear Stash post is Part 8 of 11 and is sponsored by Backcountry. This means, all opinions are 100% the author’s and there has been no manipulation of the gear being displayed, but gear links go directly to Backcountry’s website when available. This sponsorship helps to keep WeighMyRack alive, to pay authors, and allows more articles to be written. Also, since Backcountry has the biggest online selection of climbing gear of any US retailer, it made sense for us to partner with them for our Gear Stash stories.

If you’d like your rack to be featured on our Gear Stash series in the future, tag #weighmyrack and #gearstoke on Instagram. If we share your post on our feed and it becomes a most liked photo, we’ll reach out about becoming officially featured as an Ultimate Gear Stash.

Amanda Paige

Amanda Paige

Amanda is a Doctor of Optometry in Southern California. When she’s not seeing patients, you can find her climbing and adventuring in Bishop, Yosemite, or Red Rock, and living by the motto: Live, don’t just exist.

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