How To Remove a Stopper or Hex

In rock climbing, rookie climbers will usually climb behind the more experienced partner.  The veteran climber is the one who will normally lead the pitch.  The rookie climber's main job is to have his partner's back and remove his safety net.  

Seasoned rock climbers know that their safety depends upon the stoppers and hexes that they use to insure safety.  Hex is the name for a six-sided protection tool that either wedges or rotates into a mountain's crack.  Originally, hexes were threaded but newer hexes come with wires.  Stoppers are protection tools with one end wider than the other, so that the tool can be wedged into cracks.  Stoppers and hexes are essential to any climber's safety.  These tools are actually lifesavers to climbers because they help prevent the leader's fall if he loses his footing. Placing these tools into the mountain's cracks is not as easy as it sounds.

There are a few steps the rookie climber must go through to remove a stopper or hex.  It is a good idea for the rookie to make sure that he is in a firm position.  It is important to have this accomplished before he begins tampering with the tool that was placed by his partner.  Inspection of the stopper or hex before removal is a must.  The area needs to be inspected so the rookie can get an idea of the best way to remove the tool. He should be able to see a crack that is widening.  This happens because his partner puts pressure on the metal wedge while climbing.  A rock climber should not, under any circumstances, remove the stopper or hex from the carabiner attached to the rope.  There is a chance that the carabiner could drop after it is removed.  

The best approach would be to try to shimmy the piece loose with your fingers.  If the tool happens to come loose, back track to the widening path used to place the tool in the crack until it is out.  If the stopper or hex won't come lose with a wiggle, the rookie will have to use his nut tool.  He will have to keep tapping the unreasonable stopper or hex with the end of the nut tool until it begins to loosen.  It is probably a good idea to review the path of the stopper or hex.  If all else fails, the rookie may need to ask the veteran for help.


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