ClimbingClimb Higher: A Guide Selects His Go-To Climbing Gear

Climb Higher: A Guide Selects His Go-To Climbing Gear

Swis Stockton has the perfect name for a rock climbing guide. It just sounds like someone who belongs on the rock. Fortunately, Stockton also has the credentials to back up the name. Stockton owns and serves as the head guide for Granite Arches, one of the South’s premiere rock climbing companies. Stockton has climbed and guided all over the world, from high altitude routes in the Andes to the big walls of California. Over the years, he’s become one of the most thoroughly trained wilderness first aid climbers in the country, performing countless rescues on and off the rock. After decades of sending and guiding, Stockton still has a passion for the sport. “Climbing can be meditative—how you synchronize the body and the mind,” Stockton says. “On good days, you’re just watching the rock go by and feeling your body work, and it all takes place in the wilderness. That’s my idea of perfection.”

We asked Stockton about the gear that he relies on to reach that state of perfection on a daily basis.

Adidas Terrex Solo ($119)

These are light, relatively inexpensive approach shoes with great toe coverage, good lateral stability, very sticky rubber, and loops on the back that attach to a harness. They also seem to hold up better than more expensive shoes. (Editor’s note: You can still find the Terrex Solo on the market, but also look at the updated model, Terrex Agravic GTX).


La Sportiva Batura 2.0 GTX ($700)

I bought these winter climbing boots last year, so I haven’t had a lot of days in them, but so far, they’re great. They are very lightweight, which is a world of difference from other winter boots. They climb warmer for me than any other winter boot, too, maybe because of the gaiter.


Sterling 3/8 Inch HTP  ($151.65)

This is my rigging rope of choice. It’s true static rope that has a very specific use, and should be used with caution by beginners. However, it has a small diameter, handles beautifully and is abrasion resistant, which is great for building tree and “V rigs” with guide tethers.


Trauma Shears

Everyone should put a pair of these in their medical kit. They’re light weight and way safer than wielding a knife. I teach wilderness medicine a lot these days, and have been a rescuer many times. Trauma shears are great for cutting clothing, webbing, and holes in moleskin.


Misty Mountain Threadworks Spectre  ($129)

Misty Mountain has been building bomb-proof climbing harnesses in the High Country of North Carolina since 1985. The company is known for the Cadillac—a workhorse harness that’s admired by trad climbers the world over. The new Spectre (out this fall) takes the Cadillac’s workhorse mentality and puts it on a diet. Weighing in at just over 13 ounces, the Spectre combines the agility and slim profile of a crag harness with the support and gear-hauling capability of a big wall trad harness.


Black Diamond ATC Guide ($29.95)

I’m using this as my belay device the most right now. It’s a good lead belay device and very good for direct belay guiding. It’s not too big and rappels pretty well too. It’s a great device you can grow into.


Outdoor Research Ferrosi  ($79)

I totally live in these pants these days. They’re stretchy, wind and rain resistant, and they’re super comfortable. They don’t hold odor and are light and pack small.


Zensah Recovery Compression Shorts ($64)

The compression shorts provide support to the upper leg while allowing for unrestricted mobility in the lower leg. The result: shorts that enable you to perform better—and recover more quickly.


EcoVessel Boulder ($16)

These triple-insulated stainless steel water bottles stay cold for over 36 hours without sweats or leaks. Sturdy, stylish, and BPA- and phthalate-free.


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