Mountain climbing is a sport distinctly different from rock climbing, which it is often mistaken for. Mountain climbing equipment is therefore sometimes different than rock climbing equipment, though the two sports do have many pieces of equipment in common. Perhaps the most common piece of mountain climbing equipment, and the most recognizable, is the carabiner, which is a metal hook with a gate that opens and closes to secure a rope through it. These pieces of mountain climbing equipment are used for a variety of purposes, and most climbers have several carabiners on hand during a climb.
Harnesses are the most important of all pieces of mountain climbing equipment, as it is primarily responsible for the climber's safety while climbing steep pitches and other challenging routes. The harness fits around the waist, and two leg loops are attached to the waist loop. One leg loop wraps securely around each leg, and when a climber is climbing vertically, he or she can let his or her weight fall into the harness, which will be suspended from a rope, putting the climber in a sitting position.
Mountain climbers also commonly use a tool called an ice axe. This tool is used for different purposes according to its design: some ice axes are designed for climbing vertical pieces of ice, and they are used in conjunction with other pieces of mountain climbing equipment known as crampons. Crampons are sharp metal teeth that are attached to the climber's boots for traction on ice. The ice axes used for vertical climbing often feature a bend or crook in the handle, and the pick of the ice axe is narrow and strong enough to be plunged into hard ice repeatedly. The teeth of the crampon are also narrow and quite hard for the same purposes.
Specially designed ropes are also very common pieces of mountain climbing equipment. There are two general types of rope: static and dynamic. Static ropes do not stretch as much as dynamic ropes do, and they are intended for activities such as rappelling and tying climbing anchors. Dynamic ropes are used as support ropes during climbs, and they stretch quite a bit to support the climber's weight comfortably should the climber fall. Ropes need to be cared for to prevent damage that could make the rope unusable or extremely dangerous to use. A regular inspection of the rope is necessary to ensure it is safe to use for a climb.