/ Your Friend is your Enemy

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what the hex 01 May 2019

Cams (satisfying as they are to place) can be difficult to judge regarding their security of their placement. I feel much happier above a well placed nut or sling - these are my go-to pro of choice but sometimes a friend is all the rock will take but I'm usually not 100% confident about them. It's the same with many modern belay devices that claim to take a fall without user input - they over complicates matters; even a toothed belay plate can be set up the wrong way around, a bug cannot. Isn't simplicity key in climbing?

Disclaimer: I haven't climbed for nigh-on 10 years (but I'm as bored as hell, hence this thread).

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Oceanrower 01 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

> even a toothed belay plate can be set up the wrong way around, 

It can't, you know. It'll work perfectly well both ways. It's just a little more "grabby" in one orientation than the other.

Simon Pelly 01 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

Understand where you're coming from - "having faith in your friends" rather than "enemy"

Years ago went on an aid climbing course and used friends a lot. This gave me a bundle more confidence on placements.

what the hex 01 May 2019
In reply to Oceanrower:

> It can't, you know. It'll work perfectly well both ways.

Fair enough - That makes sense.

Clint86 01 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

Why are you bored? Work? ill? Hope it passes.

I remember how good friends were in extremis at times.

what the hex 01 May 2019
In reply to Clint86:

just enduring a day off.

Glad you have had positive experiences regarding your friends.

2
Dax H 01 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

Like you I don't trust friends, I understand the mechanics behind them but I only used them if nothing else will do, I will always use a well placed nut or hex over something that is just a friction fit. 

All that said though I am most deffinatly a punter and have never taken a fall outdoors. 

7
what the hex 01 May 2019
In reply to Dax H:

> ...I understand the mechanics behind them

Despite the fact they can "walk" into a crack or "pop" (marvellous isn't it) - has there ever been a case of them putting explosive lateral pressure on the crack their situated in, I wonder.

Dave Cundy 01 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

A flake of rock (or the edge of a crack) can be broken by a Friend or a nut.  Over the years, I've seen plenty of placements with broken edges.

I consider that 99% of the time, I'm not going to test a piece of gear.  I'm more concerned to put in something that looks decent so that i have the confidence to keep moving, knowing that I'll probably find something better higher up To me, that's where Friends score highly. Speed is safety!

The Wild Scallion 01 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

> Cams (satisfying as they are to place) can be difficult to judge regarding their security of their placement. I feel much happier above a well placed nut or sling - these are my go-to pro of choice but sometimes a friend is all the rock will take but I'm usually not 100% confident about them. It's the same with many modern belay devices that claim to take a fall without user input - they over complicates matters; even a toothed belay plate can be set up the wrong way around, a bug cannot. Isn't simplicity key in climbing?

> Disclaimer: I haven't climbed for nigh-on 10 years (but I'm as bored as hell, hence this thread).

Cams are fine .  It's the rock you have to look out for . 

I've seldom ever used them on Limestone .  Only if nothing else would do . 

However I understand people do quite regularly.

Just a personal choice.  

Wiley Coyote2 01 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

Horses for courses.  A well set, beefy-sized nut in a tapering slot is ideal and even a non-technical ignoramus like me can understand how it will work. That's my gold standard pro too but I have to confess there have been brutally-steep routes where only a quickly-placed cam would get me up. Hanging around fiddling with nuts would have burned me out.

In fact I have fallen onto cams that held perfectly several times, including an old rigid Friend in a horizontal break that held on only one pair of cams, but.....well if I am honest I still don't really trust them either. All that stuff about effective ranges  of the cams and crucial importance of the radius of the curves all sounds a bit dodgy to my impractical mind

angry pirate 01 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

My only two lead falls were taken on SLCDs (the same DMM Dragon size 2 coincidentally) so I trust them well enough  

d_b 01 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

The 80s called. They want their thread back 

In reply to what the hex:

If they're good enough for people to sew up Yosemite/Creek splitters without dying all the time, I think us Brits should survive.

Wiley Coyote2 01 May 2019
In reply to d_b:

> The 80s called. They want their thread back 


If only....in the 80s I was half a stone lighter and still had hair (as well as Friends)

Trangia 02 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

Like you I have a lot more faith in a well placed nut, or well constructed thread. I only have a few friends and rarely use them - usually as a last resort. I would add that it does depend on the rock type, it's friabilty etc. I would add that I rarely climb on grit and haven't for years. Much prefer limestone or good solid Lakeland or Welsh mountain rock, so long as it's not loose or lost key. Eg tapping produces a ringing sound rather than a dull thud.

5
Duncan Bourne 02 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

While the over use of friends has worn away many placements on grit in general I trust them. It is all down to how you place them, being aware that under certain conditions they can walk, that a friend behins a flake or weak rock can break said rock, NOT over camming them to the point where a) they don't work so well and b) are a bugger to remove.

I still prefer a good bomber rock placement but they too can have their problems. Some years ago a friend reached the final lip on Flying Buttress Direct only to have ALL his nicely placed rocks lift out.

Alkis 02 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

Lobbing on them certainly helps confidence. My very first trad fall was on a cam and that certainly helped.

dh73 02 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

i likewise distrust them. I have never had confidence in them so one session decided to remove my unfounded fear and placed one a few metres up on a climb to prove to myself that they are good pro. I then took a deliberate fall - and the bas*ard popped! entirely my fault for being incompetent, but I can live with that

stick to a lump of metal wedged tight!

3
beardy mike 02 May 2019
In reply to what the hex: Dear lord, not this AGAIN. A good cam placement, whether in limestone or grit or granite, is as good as a nut placement. A bad cam placement is as bad as a bad nut placement. The only difference is it’s quicker to learn what constitutes a good placement with nuts because there is an easier visual inspection process. So, the moral is, learn to adapt your placements to the rock type - i’ve taken nearly all my falls on cams and not had one pop yet, and I predominently climb on limestone. If you set them in a pocket, it is almost impossible for the, to walk or pop out. Walking is really easy to avoid by buying premium cams with higher spring tension which helps prevent it, and by extending your placement. Don’t rely on the short sling on the cam, and you will not have a problem. Even better place it in a position where it can’t walk, i.e. with te lobes pushed up to a constriction in the crack. Here endeth the sermon...

1
d_b 02 May 2019
In reply to beardy mike:

But you have to admit that both nuts and friends are unfit to share a gear loop with the glorious Pink Tricam.

beardy mike 02 May 2019
In reply to d_b:

A good tricam is as good as a good cam and nut. A bad tricam does not exist.

1
Rick Graham 02 May 2019
In reply to beardy mike:

> A good tricam is as good as a good cam and nut. A bad tricam does not exist.

Bollocks.

Any crack/pocket/spike/thread etc will have an optimal best placement, whether it be a nut, cam, tricam, peg or sling.

3
beardy mike 02 May 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

Haha - don't get all triggered on me Rick. I can't help it if I speak the truth...

teh_mark 02 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

There is nothing more reassuring than a Gold Dragon* in a textbook placement on grit.

* - other varieties also available.

Rick Graham 03 May 2019
In reply to beardy mike:

There are placements where only a tricam will work.

However, is the tricam the only protection device that often needs two hands free to place and remove?

Shame someone ingenious cannot make a trigger modification to make them practical on the crag

3
gravy 03 May 2019

If someone invented a device that could prevent any type of cam from walking until it was overcammed that did not compromise the safety, did not add any significant weight to the cam, did not compromise remove and cost less than £1 a cam would you buy it?

Would you consider it a feature to have when you bought a new cam?

Just asking...

beardy mike 03 May 2019
In reply to gravy:

It's a tricky ask that. The first issue is that the requirement for stem stiffness varies through the size of cams  - for a microcam you most definitely want a floppy wire. PLacements tend to be less optimal so the wire needs to conform more easily. It's not a problem as the weight of the head is lower so they do not bend when you hold them to place. There comes a cutoff point where the 7x21 cable that most manufacturers becomes too flexible to support the head and the whole affair becomes decidedly unwieldy - just take a look at the larger Metolius mastercams and BD x4's for example. So i's in the 0.5-0.75 camalot range where the requirement changes. From here on in, it becomes a play off - alien style triggers no longer are possible, meaning you must rely on the stiffness of the now 7x7 cable to support the head whilst you trigger the device. It's the reason that most devices now have a plastic sheath to provide a little extra support and usability. Those of you who are bit older will remember how Flexible Friends (i.e. pre Tech Friends) would fold when triggered, especially after you'd bent the wire during a fall.

So the holy grail is something which allows the wire to move independently of the head whilst stiffening during triggering. Trouble with that is that it's complicated, read not cheap, robust, easy to manufacture, compact (giving you trouble with head width) amongst other things. It's definitely been thought of and about. For example, look up a Wild Country Patent from Keven Brown from the late 90's and you will see what I mean...

Post edited at 10:45
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beardy mike 03 May 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

Yes - it probably is. I believe a triggered Tricam was made at one point in the mists of yore... Must say, as an alpine tool I really like them - they are light, do most of what a cam does, more than what they do in some respects and same goes for hexes. But I get why they are not ideal... and besides, I was just pandering to another tricam lover. The other day we were climbing together and I was carrying his set and I managed to make a 3 tricam belay...

DubyaJamesDubya 03 May 2019
In reply to what the hex:

The biggest danger with cams is that you start to place them all the time and lose the knack of placing wires/nuts quickly and well.

2
ScottTalbot 03 May 2019
In reply to Oceanrower:

> It can't, you know. It'll work perfectly well both ways. It's just a little more "grabby" in one orientation than the other.

I've heard the same form a Climbing Instructor, at my local wall. I couldn't be bothered to get into an argument about it, as he wasn't talking to me and I wasn't sure if best practice had been revised!?

It used to be common practice to switch the belay device round on wall ropes, when they started to get fluffy, as they would constantly snag!

Jon Greengrass 03 May 2019
In reply to gravy:

My Big Bro is my friend when my other friends are not up to it.

It never walks, becomes over-cammed and I don't have to worry about kicking it out the crack, it even works as a foothold.

duchessofmalfi 05 May 2019
In reply to beardy mike:

What if I told you such a device exists? cam be applied to any cam (well not tricams...) either from manufacture or retro fit and is cheap...

knighty 05 May 2019
In reply to Rick Graham:

> However, is the tricam the only protection device that often needs two hands free to place and remove?

You definitely only need one hand to place a tricam! You've just got to use a pinch and slide it into place. Though I will concede that you do normally need two hands to remove them.

Disclaimer: I'm a member of the tricam fan club.

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beardy mike 05 May 2019
In reply to duchessofmalfi: is is an extender?

gravy 06 May 2019
In reply to beardy mike:

No - it's not available commercially - it does exist but I don't really think there is a market for it. 

Having climbed since the beginning of cams I've never lost one due to being stuck (although I've found many stuck cams and rescued many stuck cams). While it's possible to solve this problem (for new and existing cams) I'm not sure anyone is really that bothered.

beardy mike 06 May 2019
In reply to gravy:

Would be interested to take a look if you have more info!


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