Significant changes in climbing tech?

The original 5.10 Dragons in ?2004? Image courtesy of

For some reason I started thinking about technologies that have changed dramatically since I started climbing in 1998 and what has come along and made significant performance improvements to climbers in general.

Also, what order of imporance would you rank them?
  • single ropes have evolved to the point that you can now purchase them in the same diameter that double ropes used to be.

  • Downturned shoes (probably my top ranking one for importance). The earliest ones I can remember seeing were the Scarpa Paranoia's but I'm sure they weren't the first. My first memory of them was that they were unwearable (for me at least)! Of course, times (and shapes) have evolved thankfully and we now have numerous different models to choose from. If you haven't tried downturns, you are seriously missing out. Stories of them being worth half a grade performance increase aren't far off the long as you have the core strength to help also!

  • Wiregate quickdrawsv that chopped quickdraw weight significantly, although you can now buy solid gate quickdraws that weight the same.....

  • ultra-light harnesses. Arcteryx were the pioneers in this field with their how-can-they-be-that-thin models, Black Diamond and Petzl are now following suit. No, I still can't get my head around their thinness, but who cares, they work!

  • Ultralight helmets. Take a bicycle helmet, modify it for climbing (essentially) and away you go. I know I can't touch the old plastic style ones anymore.....

  • What am I missing when it comes to trad gear? I can't think of anything major to be honest, more evolution than revoltion I think? Does the anticam count (you should watch all of The Season to get a better understanding)?

What else am I missing?

Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

Late catchup!