/ advice on rope and cams please
I'm also looking for 3 or 4 new cams, i've always used the original wild country soft stem ones and just wonder if dragons and the like are really worth double the price each and if so why?
These days there aren't really any poor ropes on the market. Either of the above are decent ropes and good value for money. However there are some good deals around on top-end ropes if you're willing to pay a bit. I'd certainly check out the Rock+Run website if you haven't already.
You need to take inflation into account so I doubt the RRPs are anywhere near twice the price in real terms. Also, whilst the RRP has certainly increased, given the amount of heavy discounting taking place now, I think in reality, prices have been remarkable stable.
The latest cams (DMM Dragons, BD C4s etc.) are certainly a better product in so far as you are getting the performance of a double axle cam that weighs the same as previous generation single axle cams. At least in the mid sizes, I think Dragons are worth the extra 20-30% premium. Also, for UK climbing they might also allow you to carry fewer cams overall.
The new WC Heliums are nice cams, but I have to admit they do seem perhaps £5-10 over-priced compared to the (discounted) prices of DMM cams. Conversely WC Zero cams are probably now selling at lower prices than when they first launched (3x for £99 or 4x for £120 from Joe Brown).
You can easily buy 5x Dragons for £200 (£40 each) from Joe Brown which certainly isn't an horrendous price and Rock+Run have had DMM Demon cams available for £32.50 each. Another option if you want 3 cams for under £100 is 3x DMM 4CUs for £89 again from Joe Brown.
You might well 'think' that. However, I 'know' you are talking nonsense having investigated this in detail before upgrading my rack:
4x DMM Dragon cams, sizes 1-4 - range 20mm-64mm - total weight 470g
4x WC Helium cams, sizes 1.5-3 - range 23.6mm-67.5mm - total weight 475g
The WC Heliums over that mid-range are lighter than identically sized Tech Friends (485g), 4CUs (480g) and Demons (495g) but it is impossible to argue, despite the slightly larger sizing, that they are appreciably lighter than the Dragons, at least up to size 4.
You make a good point about thumb loops being a useful feature, especially when aid climbing. However, compared to other cams, the Heliums are a fairly 'long' design which greatly reduces their loops utility for clipping in short. Also, given that I've climbed 3 aid routes but perhaps 2000 trad routes in my life, I think thumb loops are over-rated compared to features like greater expansion range and an extendable sling. However, if I was climbing in Yosemite regularly, I might feel differently, but in that case I'd probably buy BD C4s.
The Camalots feel 'better' as in their camming action is smooth and feels positive. The stems on the C4s are longer and easier to use in deeper placements than the dragons. I hear the slightly wider cams of the C4s are good for softer rock, but that may or may not be a concern for granite/grit/lime.
But the double-slings on the dragons are really the selling point for me. Less quick draws needed on harness, and should be less 'walking'. The extra extension might be what you need to reduce rope drag, as it sounds like you're getting a single rope.
Joe Browns all the way for big sets. V12 also do some good prices.
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