Compact, light and a great improvement on what was already a great addition to any sport climbers rack.
I can clearly remember my first experience of using a clipstick. I was attempting a famous Ron route at Chee Tor in the Peak District called Tequilla Mockingbird, no sports grades in those days just E6 6c in old money. The first rusty old bolt was miles up and I’d cobbled together a tree branch with some finger tape which had the gate of my quickdraw fully opened. After at least half an hour of the thin stick wobbling around we got it clipped and that was it. Off I went, top roping up to that first clip, gate opened with tape and a tree branch hanging off it and then climbing on past it to the sanctuary of the next bit of gear. Sadly, I was so traumatised by trying to clip the next bit of gear that I didn’t flash it. So, thank goodness for progress I say.
Since than I’ve tried many homemade variations of clip stick including a turned and welded carabiner holder that I made in a school workshop, but since then I’ve been using the original Betaclip stick for most of my climbing. I find them compact and easy to use and very convenient for clipping the first bolt (which is my main use) and getting over a hard section. I rarely use one for clipping my way to the top of a hard route (but that is down to my old school ethics).
The latest version, called the BetaStick EVO stick is much improved, the addition of 6 fliplock sections and the redesigned head all make for a great and easy experience. We’ve been testing out the Super Standard version which is the updated version of the older model which I’ve used for the last few years and has more reach with it extending from 74cms to 374cms. The Super Standard isn’t that much bigger than my older compact model but has much more reach.
The Betclip looks like a camera tripod leg and extends from 55cms to a great 238cms, more than enough to clip the first two bolts on any route and even three on some routes. The ultra compact version is the ideal model for travel as it fits into your hold luggage easily and weighs less (although it is heavier than the original ultra compact model). If you need more height (!!!) then there is whopping Ultra Long (113cms to 648cms). So, plenty of choice for whatever you need in terms of project. Just a tip on extending the clip stick – always extend from the bottom section upwards that way you always have the strongest configuration and least bend in the pole when extended.
The flicklock works very easily and eliminates the annoying ‘slideback’ when you are just about to clip the bolt and a section slides back into itself. There doesn’t seem to be an adjusting screw to tighten them so only time will tell how long they will remain tight for. But for now they have been working perfectly and each of the 6 sections have stayed tight even at full extension. The end of the pole has a nice handle and it’s good to see that the clip has been done away with as I’ve never been able to use it on any harness other than my Arc’teryx one.
The injection moulded head on the BetaStick EVO is another great improvement. It is larger and less likely to break than the original model when dropped from a route. And the spring gate retainer has worked with both wire and solid gates and has held a good variety of different gates, even those that don’t have any groves in for this purpose. You can move the spring to a lower positionIn fact the whole stick has a much better and solid feeling build quality (this of course comes at the cost of weight as I said earlier), but for most of your climbing days you wouldn’t notice much in the weight difference.
Two great brand new features of the head on the BetaStick EVO are the oversized hole for clipping a carabiner through and clipping to your harness. This is so much better than the annoying bit of 2mm cord that the original had. I cut that out and drilled a hole through the bottom handle to put some cord through which worked well for me. No such problems on the new models, the hole is plenty big enough for any carabiner you want to put through it. Another great new feature is the hook on the underside of the head to make it easy to draw your rope back down from the first bolt so that it is pre clipped before your attempt. The worked fine for the first bolt but I would have liked to see a more pronounced hook as I found it more difficult for bolts that were higher.
There are also some great tutorial videos on the Beta Climbing Designs website on how the use the BeatStick EVO to clip the rope into a hanging QuickDraw and how to use the BetaStick EVO to remove a QuickDraw. A word from experience, the higher up the QuickDraw the more trick it is to retrieve!
So, in conclusion, the new BetaStick EVO is a brilliant improvement on what was already an indispensable part of my sport climbing equipment, I like the Super Standard model as it fits to the outside of my pack and I can happily pack it for my overseas adventures if needed. The redesigned head is great and much better than my older model and the fliplock section adjusters are perfect.
SRP: £49.95 and available from various retailers.