Last year I was lucky enough to get to test the new Pongoose 700 clip stick, and was very impressed. The only issue I had was that it came up short for some of those super high first bolts. But this issue is now solved with their latest addition to the family.

There have been many inventions that have changed climbing over the years; sticky rubber, cams, chalk… some made a massive difference. But the humble clip-stick has been rather useful to say the least. ‘Remote clipping’ as it has become known is now a thing on just about every UK sport crag. Is it worth investing in a stick, or just bringing along an old fishing rod, or even a branch from the local woods?

My first clip stick was made from the tent poles from an old Vango. It was awesome, bomb proof, if a little heavy. I reckon I was ahead of the curve, we’d been using sticks for a while, but only odd bits of bamboo or whatever was lying around at the base of the cliff. But the concept was clear, and addressed a common UK issue of a high first bolt combined with desperate first moves combined with nasty landing (Malham). Mine was built to solve a problem; John Welford had snapped the 1st bolt on Evolution at Raventor and made it rather dangerous to even dog the route never mind try redpoints. I was already involved, and thus stick was fashioned to bypass likely broken legs. The engineer in me was psyched too, with a variable angle head and fool-proof design that seemed better than the soon-to-come purchasable options for many years. In my view this was the best stick around, outlasting everything else by miles, and never resulting in an epic of fumble clipping. It was ran over, dropped down cliffs, used as a walking stick and even a pull-up bar and still stays solid.

However, time passes, and eventually you have to realise that things have improved. My lovely old Vango stick doesn't make it out these days but is happily retired to the heap of junk in the garage.

Last year I was using the Pongoose 700 clip stick. The engineering designers had taken some time to get it right. It may not be cheap, but the thing that stood out instantly was that it is a unit of quality that is going to do the job well. A bit like a Makita powertool. Engineers in particular will enjoy explaining just how good the system is and take great delight in clipping up everyone’s route rather than even climbing at all. The stick is very good quality, better than any other I have tried, but it’s the head that stands out, taking every carabiner, and being multi-adjustable for every conceivable clipping scenario. The head can also be removed from the stick for travel, or to screw a camera to it for use as a mono-pod or distance boom (same screw thread). And even more cleverly, you can get a quality toothbrush that attaches to the head for ‘remote brushing’, thus making the stick potentially essential for the boulderer as well as the sport climber.The head is also specifically designed for ‘lasso-clipping’ an in-situ quickdraw, which is perhaps the most common use of a stick these days. It can even be used to take out an in-situ quickdraw if you decide you’ve bitten off a bit more than you can chew!

19 12 pongoose

My only issue with the 700 was that the extended length of 2.85m was a tad short. But to be fair, it was designed with travel in mind and fitted well into a travel bag. However, the new Pongoose 1000 extends to a whopping 4.3m, which is easily enough to clip the first, second, and sometimes even third bolt, and even the belay for some of the short peak routes! In terms of efficiency of working a route before redpointing this extra length is a game changer. And of course where safety is an issue and a pre-clip is deemed necessary, the 4.3m reach will cover just about every high first bolt scenaro you'll find!

Great Christmas present if you are struggling for something actually useful to give (or receive....)