Here’s the rule of thumb for you:
If you’re looking at the first bolt of a climb, and you think, “If I fell from there I’d definitely break my ankles,” then you need a stick clip.
Now, here’s the thing. Yes, you’re probably not going to break your ankles if you went without one… this time. It’s more that you will fall from that kind of height eventually if you keep taking that risk.
Your only two options are:
- To climb within a safety margin so that getting to the first bolt isn’t ever going to be a challenge to you.
- To get a stick clip and never worry about taking a ground fall.
So, yeah, while it might seems like stick clipping is “lame,” climbing within a bigger safety margin is definitely “lamer.”
To be honest, stick clipping doesn’t detract from the climbing experience at all. It’s all done before you start climbing, and it’s just another part of your standard setup of tying into your harness, getting the belay ready and so on.
If you want to know more about what stick clips actually are and what makes a good one good, then I wrote a handy guide here.
As for which stick clips are the best, look here.
Finally, here is a guide to the best extension poles to use with them.