Perhaps technical climbing gear will be one of the last frontiers of ‘sustainable’ production in the outdoor industry. While hardware can last for years – and tends to be based on alloys, which tend to be incredibly energy intensive – the area where there is high turnoff (that is, waste) is in the realm of ropes and slings, because of their limited life once they take a few falls.
The good news is that a number of companies are making huge leaps forward in terms of more sustainable production – especially with regards to ropes. Quite a lot of climbing equipment is still made in Europe, meaning working conditions are potentially easier to dictate. Although a growing number of climbing and alpine countries are focusing on, and talking about, developments in terms of lower ecological impacts of their products, there is only limited information available about the working conditions in production factories.
The following are some welcome developments in the realms of lower impact climbing gear.