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Does anyone else find non specific gear beta in guidebooks annoying?

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 Tom Ripley 14 Jul 2022

Does anyone else find non specific gear beta in guidebook description annoying?

Rather than ‘big cams needed’, wouldn’t ‘camalot 4 or 5 necessary’ be more helpful?

Personally I don’t want to lug a big cam up a long route only to find out that the guidebook authors definition of big is the size down from mine. 

Thoughts?

59
 springfall2008 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

I guess I'd find it annoying if they mentioned a specific brand as you might not know how their sizes translate.

Better still would be saying 'big cams (>100mm) needed'

3
In reply to Tom Ripley:

Product placement?! And just too much detail for most routes.  

1
In reply to Tom Ripley:

Not as bad as 'modern gear'  what does that even mean? 

1
 Hardonicus 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

Do you want the onsight or not?

5
OP Tom Ripley 14 Jul 2022
In reply to springfall2008:

> I guess I'd find it annoying if they mentioned a specific brand as you might not know how their sizes translate.

> Better still would be saying 'big cams (>100mm) needed'

I could go with that… or the generic colour shared by Black Diamond, Wild Country, DMM, and (to an extent) Totem. 

1
OP Tom Ripley 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Hardonicus:

> Do you want the onsight or not?

Guidebooks are beta!

11
 Hardonicus 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

But how much beta is too much beta?!

1
In reply to Tom Ripley:

The single annoying thing about Totems is that their colour doesn't don't match up to what has become industry standard.  Otherwise, yes, something like 'small blue cam' is a sufficiently accurate description.  We all know what size that is.  If you said '14mm cam' I'd need to think carefully what colour that might actually be!

 Pekkie 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

Paul Williams used to identify key bits of gear in his guidebooks. Very useful.

1
 Jon Read 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

It's tricky. US guides state crack width in inches, which is independent of product, and I think I would prefer this info (if crucial). 

Alternatively, writers should use a standard product range. Nowadays, these would be Camelots. It used to be Friends (pre 2000-something rescaling), and a recent FRCC guide still refers to Friend 1.5 placement for example which will mean nothing to younger climbers! 

1
 C Witter 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

If I'm unsure, I check the UKC logbooks If you need something enormous or very small, someone has usually put a helpful hint. The slots for any gear mentioned in the guidebooks probably blew 20 years back, but have just continued to be copied blindly from one guidebook edition to the next, along with a misprinted HVD 5a instead of HVS 5a, "bold" for a route with ample cam placements and two stars for a route that has been lost to ivy since a year after the FA.

2
In reply to Tom Ripley:

What route do you want gear beta for Tom?

Did anyone tell you about the micro cams necessary for the final tricky pitch on Vestpillaren Direct (n6)? I remember my Finnish mates telling me it was badly protected, scary, difficult to read etc. I ended up leading that pitch and don't remember much beyond I found a number of bits of gear and it was relatively easy lurch sideways across a slab to escape into the exit gully! We probably ended up taking three or four micro cams up the route just for that move.   

OP Tom Ripley 14 Jul 2022
In reply to TobyA:

I’m just annoyed that carried a Camalot 5 up Rana when a 4 would have been sufficient. But the guidebooK mentioned big gear!

11
In reply to Tom Ripley:

I'm glad I'm not the only one. I've definitely done routes that describe needing a large cam, then it turning out to be a gold....

1
In reply to Alex Riley:

Now here's a question: is that colour between red and blue gold or yellow?

 The Pylon King 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

I reckon they should list every single piece if gear on the route and be done with it. And what type of shoes you should wear.

 galpinos 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Gold.

1
 galpinos 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

Yes, a specific size is handy. Happy to carry up to blue (3), big gear means something bigger (>3), eg silver, purple etc.

Would be annoyed to carry up a 5 when a 3 would have sufficed!

3
In reply to Jon Read:

What about if people read the description and then miss the placement or are crap at placing the gear  - they might sue!

In reply to Tom Ripley:

I would much prefer a more detailed description of the route than any recommendations for specific sized gear and only if it requires unusually big cams.  Who wants to carry those when you don't have to. Example: traverse left to the 3" wide crack and follow it for 30'.  That tells me I will need some bigger cams and as many as I would be willing to carry with that knowledge. I don't really see that as "beta" where as 3 x size [X] cams are needed is.

Post edited at 13:06
1
 PaulJepson 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

I'm not a fan of guidebooks giving too much away but I think, for me, a nice rule of thumb would be whether having the gear or not would change the grade. In that case, I agree they should be more specific. Saying something is 'useful' could vary from 'you'll 100% die if you fall off without it' to 'it's a bit more fluttery without it'. For me, something like "HVS 4c without a Dragonfly 2/equivalent, or VS 4c with micro cams" would be helpful for a couple of reasons. You do sometimes see people, for example, claiming the first of the grade for them when they had the massive cam that the grade doesn't really take into consideration (e.g. Hollyash Crack (VS 4b), which is probably HS 4b if you have a big cam). 

You often see very specific beta on harder routes ("ballnut #1 protects the crux") but not on easier ones; maybe another example of elitism in the upper grades. 

10
 Offwidth 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

Maybe just take a 5 as the range stretches from a 3 ?

Supertopo describe a rack for their routes. I find they specify way too much gear for multi-pitch and are sometimes inaccurate. I take more small stuff, fewer extenders and even though I normally carry a 4 and often a 5, my rack always weighs less than the supertopo recommended  one.

 Offwidth 14 Jul 2022
In reply to PaulJepson:

Some would argue Hollyash is HS 4b even without big pro and the crack width is very obvious from the ground. It's certainly not graded VS for lacking big cams or hexes in modern guides.

As for specific gear beta, if it's safety critical at lower grade I would give it. Specific safety critical gear is just way more common on higher grade routes.

Post edited at 13:42
 Holdtickler 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

I wonder if what is meant/understood by the term "big gear" has changed over time. Ten/fifteen years ago I would have taken it to mean your BD3 (maybe 4) /Hex10, hands/fists sort of size because hardly anyone had anything bigger. These days I'd be wondering if it meant BD 5/6, hex11 because its a lot more common for folk to have them. Of course, that would just have been my interpretation may have been wrong. Guidebooks do tend to have rack suggestions and photo's of a typical rack for that region but these don't usually seem to include the biggest cams or other more specialist bits. To me that leads one to the assumption that if the book specifically says "big gear needed" that it would be beyond what would typically routinely be carried. Only the writers know what they meant though, so over to you guys...

 Holdtickler 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

I wonder if what is meant/understood by the term "big gear" has changed over time. Ten/fifteen years ago I would have taken it to mean your BD3 (maybe 4) /Hex10, hands/fists sort of size because hardly anyone had anything bigger. These days I'd be wondering if it meant BD 5/6, hex11 because its a lot more common for folk to have them. Of course, that would just have been my interpretation may have been wrong. Guidebooks do tend to have rack suggestions and photo's of a typical rack for that region but these don't usually seem to include the biggest cams or other more specialist bits. To me that leads one to the assumption that if the book specifically says "big gear needed" that it would be beyond what would typically routinely be carried. Only the writers know what they meant though, so over to you guys... What do/did you mean? Has it changed over time as I'm proposing?

In reply to Tom Ripley:

Nope. That's trad climbing innit.

1
In reply to Tom Ripley:

Trouble with a kit list as per supertopo guides for the states is that  it's totally subjective and in my experience total horse do-do. I remember taking a double set of cams as per their suggestion on the first few routes we did and came to the conclusion that it was a total waste of time. We reverted to our standard UK rack and never had an issue. Maybe on a wall, but not some 5.8 in the meadows. As for specific gear and hauling big gear, come in brah, you're young and fit! It'll only make you stronger...

In reply to Tom Ripley:

I agree; if you’re going to give gear beta at all, make it specific. I remember losing an argument long ago about how the guidebook shouldn’t say ‘tiny wires’ were needed for the crux of Phantom Rib (it’s a couple of number one wires). My point was that by 2000 tiny wires meant micros and that we should either take it out or say ‘No 1 wires’, rather than putting off people who didn’t have micros. The counter argument which prevailed, TMTP in my view, was that people shouldn’t need gear beta on routes first done in the 1940’s. 
 

Edit: actually I see it changed from ‘tiny’ to ‘small’. Maybe my efforts were not in vain.
 

jcm

Post edited at 19:30
 redjerry 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

As someone who makes his living writing guidebooks (in the US where we actually try and give useful rack beta....thats Bay-ta btw isn't beeeta an ozzie tosser?), it's actually a really tricky thing to do.
Different climbers almost always have different ideas about what the rack for a particular route might be and I've had people whine about my gear beta for routes that I know really well.
Also, its worth pointing out that collecting this information in a complete way for a guidebook of any size is an impractically huge task.
Nevertheless, even imperfect as it is, I think its really useful to include this information when you can. Where known, trad routes in my guides have a gear beta line eg.
"Single rack to 4", double small and medium sized nuts, Rp's"
Or some times more basic...
"Single rack to 3", double 1-1.25".
Sometimes very specific....
Camalots #0.5,0.75, Metolius Four#00, three #0, Single #1,#2. Hb's 1 set, double #4 & #5. Wires 1 set.
 

1
 Tony Buckley 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

The rot set in when guidebooks first mentioned 'best in rubbers'.

Quite how it helped climbing whilst wearing multiple condoms is another question.  I suppose it was a hint about what sort of protection you'd need in case you found it especially exciting.

T.

2
 Michael Gordon 14 Jul 2022
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Yes, would've called it 'small wires' in that instance. For, say, E1 upwards I'm not sure I'd even mention it as that's just standard rack, but maybe useful to say if you need a lot of RPs.

OP Tom Ripley 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

I agree with that. 

It’s up to me how many number 3 cams I should carry, but it’s helpful to know the size of the crack.

The route I’m annoyed about says the following, 

“The route is well protected throughout, but take several large cams for the top pitch.”

The pitch itself is described as, “a sustained pitch of wide jamming.”

“Jam your way up the 4” crack. Sustained.” Would be more helpful. 

6
OP Tom Ripley 14 Jul 2022
In reply to Wide_Mouth_Frog:

> Nope. That's trad climbing innit.

Sort of, but the guidebook freely gives out all sorts of other information. Is that bad too? 

I just think that if the route requires bigger gear  than a standard rack (which in my view is a blue Camalot) then, unless it is pretty obvious from ground, it would be helpful to know what size the crack is.

I mean who wants to lug a Cam 5 up 8 pitches only to find it’s superfluous. 

7
 Ian Parsons 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

Hi Tom

On page 39 of Gordon Smaill's Squamish Chief Guide there's a route called "Sloppy Seconds". I'll skip how the actual climbing is described, but the suggested equipment is "Two arms and a leg". I find this infuriating. At 5.6 it's probably well within my range of ability - on a good day, obviously - but I've nonetheless never felt able to give it a go. From the imprecise beta how on earth am I supposed to know which leg to take?

Just looked at the database and noticed that it's now rated 5.10b; that's quite a grade hike - making the lower limb choice even more crucial.

Post edited at 01:00
In reply to Tom Ripley:

Maybe the guidebook could climb the route for you too.

In the not too distant future guidebook apps will use GPS and altitude sensors in your phone to give you beta on moves and gear placements:

"Rock 4 out left then up to the side pull in the groove. No you are too far left, on the wrong route. You have rested long enough you lazy sod. My sensors tell me you have fallen off, would you like me to call for assistance?" 

All using the voice of the Cadbury bunny. 

Alan, the above is my IP, I am open to negotiation. 

3
 Michael Gordon 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

> “Jam your way up the 4” crack. Sustained.” Would be more helpful. 

Then you've got to work out what 4" is in terms of cams. "Take at least two no.3 (blue) Camalots" (if applicable) would be more helpful.

8
In reply to Michael Gordon:

In the old days that was mega easy until BD came and stuffed it all as old WC iszes basically represented inch size. I.e. a #4 was 4"...

In reply to Tom Ripley:

Pisses me off when I read something like 'doubles of blue and gold camelots...' I've no f***ing idea what that means...!

12
In reply to Tom Ripley:

Reminds me of a multi pitch I climbed with a friend back in the 90s.  He’d reached a crack where his biggest hex wasn’t big enough. Thus he grabbed a bit of nearby loose rock and jammed that in the crack with his hex. I doubt it would have held had he fallen, but it enabled him to make the move above and continue.  Psychological protection as we used to call it.

Post edited at 08:04
In reply to redjerry:

I presume gear beta in US guidebooks is more common because you have far more pure crack climbing where multiples of the same size are crucial. Whereas in the UK most people will carry pretty much the same standard rack (perhaps adjusted for grade) on all routes (unless it is obvious from the ground that some stuff won't be needed). And I think by "standard rack", most people would take that to mean up to blue Camalot size. So I would take "large cams useful" to mean a grey Camalot or two. I don't think I would ever carry anything larger than that unless it was more specific. Generally I don't think small gear beta is necessary since it can be routinely carried anyway with minimal weight penalty.

1
In reply to jon:

> Pisses me off when I read something like 'doubles of blue and gold camelots...' I've no f***ing idea what that means...!

It means doubles of Friends 3 and 3.5!

1
OP Tom Ripley 15 Jul 2022
In reply to redjerry:

Thanks Jerry - I thought your Red Rocks book was one of the best I’ve used. 

In reply to Tom Ripley:

While I somewhat agree stating #3 cam or 75mm in the description would be handy (sack off these imperial measurements, it's not the 70s and we're not in the US...) the fact it said "jamming" and not "offwidth" gives it away that it doesn't need to be bigger than #4. I would never take a #5 unless it said "offwidth, chimney, squeeze" or some such.

Bit clearly I don't ever make silly gear choices.... Haha! 

2
 Offwidth 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

Ditto... also the best I've used in the US.

I'd add that my impression is that US guidebook work is even more work for less respect than it is in the UK. A proper labour of love. Unfortunately I think that is part of why too many great climbing areas away from the major honeypots lack a current in-print guidebook. Imagine something similar to the amazing California Needles area not having an in-print guidebook in the UK for decades.

Post edited at 09:20
 JimmAwelon 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> All using the voice of the Cadbury bunny. 

Decided to find out whose voice that was. Ruined it for me now! Miriam Margolyes OBE, yes Professor Sprout in Harry Potter. Well it was 42 years ago.

In reply to JimmAwelon:

Well that's that one withdrawn from "the bank" 

In reply to Tom Ripley:

I disagree with this for several reasons Tom.

1) We get asked more often than not to ease off on beta in descriptions.

2) Gear placements are complicated and subtle. There is rarely one solution to protection and prescribing a set size leads people in this direction without allowing them room to be creative and find placements others hadn't come up with.

3) Finding and choosing gear is integral to trad climbing for me. It is helpful to have clues but for me the whole process is a crucial part of preparing yourself for a crux move or run-out. I don't want a manual for this.

4) Different manufacturers make different sizes that fit in different placements. The information becomes useless for those who aren't techie gear freaks. 'Big cam' works for everyone, 'tiny wires' will often require multiple wires and these don't weigh anything anyway.

5) It would be impossible to do it consistently across all routes and there would be many examples of routes with specific gear requirements that aren't noted as such.

6) In my (reasonably extensive) experience, ultra-specific details about routes like gear, number of bolts, etc. have a habit of being wrong (for years I was told that Right Wall (E5 6a) had a Friend 2.5 on it which turned out to be too small when I got to the crucial placement on lead). They change or simply aren't as you remembered. It is definitely a case of bad specific information being worse than no information.

Alan

1
OP Tom Ripley 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

> the fact it said "jamming" and not "offwidth" gives it away that it doesn't need to be bigger than #4. I would never take a #5 unless it said "offwidth, chimney, squeeze" or some such.

I think this is the most helpful observation on the entire thread.

 jwi 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

The difference in rack recommendation between Supertopo and Parois de Légende for routes in Yosemite is simply mindblowing...

 redjerry 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Re. type of cracks...yes, def a factor. Even when it's not actually indian-creek style crack climbing.
Also, lots of areas have a lot of long, semi-bolted pitches, so it's nice to have more specific gear beta for that situation.
I would say my gear beta also tends to get more specific for routes that generally get done with a certain amount of rehearsal.

 Offwidth 15 Jul 2022
In reply to jwi:

I sometimes feel like a different climbing sub-species in the US. We have: double ropes lightish racks; and approach shoes, water and emergency stuff clipped on the back of our harness where the weight balance is better. Too many US climbers have a big rucksack including a second abseil rope, massive racks, often trippled sets of cams and near twenty extenders... that's the normal weight of my clean aid rack!

Worse still I got angrily told off all the way up a trad route in JT.... the neighbours kept saying  the belay was in use by another party. (I kept replying I know, we don't need it and we won't get in your way). They were gobsmacked when I built a belay on trad gear in a break.

I think Jerry's book has things about right. Sadly, in Red Rocks, the likes of the latter group leads to bolt encroachment on many good trad climbs that don't need it. I have no issue with bolt belays or bolts on otherwise X or R/X stuff but turning some PG moves into unrated stuff on trad is appalling.

I love Red Rocks and have been back about 12 times in trips from a week to three weeks  and still have loads to do as a UK HVS leader. My advice is visit before it is trashed by dumb overbolting and people snapping fabulous holds by ignoring the access information and climbing on damp rock.

Post edited at 15:01
3
 redjerry 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

It's a different discussion, but I'm fairly certain that the gradual demise of print guidebooks will be a terrible loss for the US climbing community.

 Offwidth 15 Jul 2022
In reply to redjerry:

I'll sort of miss sitting in bars in the mountains after a days climbing, taking photos of a dog-eared local copy for the next few day adventures.

In reply to redjerry:

> It's a different discussion, but I'm fairly certain that the gradual demise of print guidebooks will be a terrible loss for the US climbing community.

Worth starting a new thread for Jerry?

Alan

In reply to redjerry:

> It's a different discussion, but I'm fairly certain that the gradual demise of print guidebooks will be a terrible loss for the US climbing community.

It would be a terrible loss in the UK too, but I don't know where is at greater risk.

 Michael Gordon 15 Jul 2022
In reply to jon:

> Pisses me off when I read something like 'doubles of blue and gold camelots...' I've no f***ing idea what that means...!

It means take two gold Camalots and two blue Camalots...

1
 Jon Read 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Michael Gordon:

While I am enjoying your stating of the obvious to jon (you did ask for that, jon!), there are two very different sized blue camelots...

(and 2 gold sizes if we include z4s)

4
In reply to Jon Read:

> Alternatively, writers should use a standard product range. Nowadays, these would be Camelots. It used to be Friends (pre 2000-something rescaling), and a recent FRCC guide still refers to Friend 1.5 placement for example which will mean nothing to younger climbers! 

I was going to ask why young people don’t buy WC Friends anymore but ‘did my own research’ to discover that all the numbers have changed. It looks as though the colours still match although an old friend 2 is now green?

More importantly do all colours match across makes? And if so does the same apply to the small sizes as well? I.e. a green alien is the same as other green micro cams?

 Holdtickler 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> 4) 'Big cam' works for everyone, 

But what does that mean though? At which point does a big cam become a giant cam? The biggies are like half a kilo. I think people basically want to know if they can leave their 5s and 6s on the ground.

All the rest is light enough that we should ge'orr' whinging and see it as good training to carry it

1
OP Tom Ripley 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Holdtickler:

> I think people basically want to know if they can leave their 5s and 6s on the ground.

+1 This is basically all I want! 

 Holdtickler 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

flipside - I think we sometime want to seek out those routes that give the rare excuse to carry and place one of those bad boys. Makes me grin like a kid!

I sometimes muse with the cost per placement of those rare placements, you've got to find them to get your moneys worth!

Medium nuts - 2p a go

No. 6  - £30 a go

Post edited at 20:32
OP Tom Ripley 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Holdtickler:

I’m quite happy to carry and place those things, but I don’t want to carry them if I don’t need to.

Sorry to all the disliking boomers for being a lazy, millennial snowflake! Xxx

4
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> It means take two gold Camalots and two blue Camalots...

I haven't got any f***in' camelots. I've got a set of friends. Telling me colours is no good to me. Tell me what size gear I need. Or don't bother...

10
In reply to jon:

The latest version of WC Friends match the colours of Dragons and Camalots.  That colour system is well on the way to becoming the standard.

Previous generation Friends don't match up, though.

 broken spectre 15 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

> Sorry to all the disliking boomers for being a lazy, millennial snowflake! Xxx

Don't us GenX'er's get an apology as well?

1
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

More creeping americanisation, we will be returning to imperial units next. Oh, hang on... 

 Michael Gordon 15 Jul 2022
In reply to jon:

> I haven't got any f***in' camelots. I've got a set of friends. Telling me colours is no good to me. Tell me what size gear I need.

Robert did, above

1
In reply to Tyler:

> I was going to ask why young people don’t buy WC Friends anymore but ‘did my own research’ to discover that all the numbers have changed. It looks as though the colours still match although an old friend 2 is now green?

The design, sizes and colours changed to make them just another Camalot clone like the DMM's. There were no doubt commercial reasons for this, but it seems a real shame when the old sizes interleaved the Camalot sizes so nicely (the old 2, for examle sat nicely between Camalots green and red. My standard rack is a set of Camalots from small blue to big blue and old style friends from 0 to 2.5. When I realised what was happening I managed to buy up and stockpile a couple of sets of the old style friends cheaply which should, hopefully, do me for the rest of my life.

1
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Well put, Alan.  That is the most sensible piece in this debate.

take The Lakes as an example - the majority of us climbing new routes are in our 'sixties, and we are still using the friends that we purchased back in the 80's. There's only exceptions like Rob Matheson who keeps up with the latest in gear.

5
 PaulJepson 16 Jul 2022
In reply to jon:

You should probably get used to it. With the standardisation of sizes/colours across BD, WC, DMM and Totem, which has to make up at least 95% of the cams on harnesses, cracks are now described in colours like in the US. E.g. "my hands dont fit where it turns to greens so I really struggle with that bit" 

In reply to PaulJepson:

Thanks for your advice, Paul.

 Jon Read 16 Jul 2022
In reply to jon:

Here's a comparison chart with late-80s to mid-90s WC Friends (also duplicated by Clog) and current BD Camelots I did to get my head around the differences when I updated my rack. Hope it's helpful.

https://flic.kr/p/2nyv2MA

In reply to Jon Read:

That's excellent, Jon, I'll hold on to that if I may! In my case I haven't bought any new trad gear since the 80s - no need where I live. Therefore I have a mix of old rigid stem(!) Friends - you remember red, blue, black, green, yellow etc some of which have been re slinged in completely different colours, then a few flexible stem friends - same sizes but I can't remember the colours except 1 which is yellow and 2 1/2 which is blue, I think. So you see, up to now, colours haven't meant a lot. Now I know that's my fault, but it doesn't stop me wishing for a rough size rather than colours.

PS, am I right in thinking that there have been two generations of camelots? 

 Jon Read 16 Jul 2022
In reply to jon:

The colours in the chart for the friends are for the Flexible Friend period -- your memory serves you well! (0.5 orange; 1 yellow; 1.5 mint green; 2 red/pink; 2.5 blue; 3 dark blue but also purple; 3.5 purple; big 4 black).

Not sure about camelot history, but both the normal C4s and the ultralights have pretty much identical sizing.

In reply to jon:

> PS, am I right in thinking that there have been two generations of camelots?  

A lot more now, and various specialists models now like ultralights and so on. But I think the sizes have remained the same from the start. I can never remember the numbers of the Camalots though and think DMM give theirs different numbering! 

 Jon Read 16 Jul 2022
In reply to TobyA:

> A lot more now, and various specialists models now like ultralights and so on. But I think the sizes have remained the same from the start. I can never remember the numbers of the Camalots though and think DMM give theirs different numbering! 

No, I think they are pretty much aligned by colour and sizing.

[edit] that what I mean by there being a clear standard scale in cams, at the moment.

Post edited at 10:41
 Fellover 16 Jul 2022
In reply to Jon Read:

> No, I think they are pretty much aligned by colour and sizing.

> [edit] that what I mean by there being a clear standard scale in cams, at the moment.

There is certainly a clear standard colour scheme, which corresponds to certain sizes, but Toby is correct that DMM Dragon numbering is different to Camalot numbering. E.g. a big blue Dragon is a #5, a basically the same size big blue Camalot is a #3. The Camalot numbering system is the standard these days, especially as Wild Country has adopted it as well for the new Friends.

Post edited at 11:40
In reply to Fellover:

Yep, I checked back in my review - I made a little chart (scroll down):  https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/climbing/protection/dmm_dragons_v_black_diamond_camalot-3213 and at least in 2010 the numbering was different. A Dragon 1 is a Camalot 0.5, Dragon 2 a Camalot 0.75 and so on.

(edit: not really so on... as DMM 3 is BD 1 then DMM 4 is BD 2 - not 1.25!)

Post edited at 11:49
 Fellover 16 Jul 2022
In reply to Fellover:

For the people who aren't aware of the standardisation of cam size/colour/number across the brands this should help https://cam-parison.com/#items=dgz,dg0,dg1,dg2,dg3,dg4,dg5,dg6,tte,ttf,tth,tt1,ttj,ttk,ttn,wfd,wfe,wfg,wf1,wf2,wf3,wf4,dg7,dg8,boc,bod,boe,bog,bo1,bo2,bo3,bo4,bo5,bo6&sortOn=model&expansion=max&color=cam&units=metric&scale=linear&weights=hide

Of the four major brands (BD Camalot, DMM Dragon, WC Friend, Totem Totem), they've basically started to produce almost identically sized cams. This isn't quite true and there are noticeable gaps in the ranges of each brand that other brands sort of fill in, not by being halfway between two sizes, but just by being a bit smaller/larger than the equivalent in the other brand.

Only Totem hasn't adopted the same colour scheme, but they sort of have, only a couple of discrepancies. Totem has its own numbering system as well, which interestingly is the only one that bears any comparison to actual size (measured in inches not mm, you can change the scale on the camparison site to see this).

DMM has a different numbering system to BD and WC, two larger than BD/WC in the larger sizes.

I don't really like the fact that basically all the cams are the same these days, but somehow we are where we are.

Post edited at 11:53
1
OP Tom Ripley 16 Jul 2022
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:>

> 'Big cam' works for everyone

Thanks for the detailed response Alan, and I agree with everything you’ve written, except this, ‘Big Cam’ is fairly meaningless unless you state how big is big!

Post edited at 16:36
1
 Fellover 16 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

I agree with Tom here Alan. I thought that most of what you said was great - but "Big Cam" doesn't work atall! I have four cams that could reasonably be described as big and it is really annoying when a guidebook says big cam required, so I drag up a #4 and #5 I wouldn't otherwise have taken, just to find I only needed a #3.

1
In reply to Tom Ripley:

I think Alan, just as he stays out of length of rope required, should stay out of specific gear recommendations - except, maybe in very special circumstances - like the specific cams that fit in the shotholes of Master's Edge, for example.

1
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

What is a big cam though? If I set off up a grit route where 'big cams help', do I need a big purple, or even big green? I assume that the big silver (fist size) doesn't qualify as big?

Genuine question; I have a full set up to the big silver, and want to know what I should buy to make myself happier on all those routes where 'big cams' help.

1
 Ian Parsons 16 Jul 2022
In reply to tehmarks:

> Genuine question; I have a full set up to the big silver, and want to know what I should buy to make myself happier on all those routes where 'big cams' help.

https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_EU/stories/experience-story-21-camalot/

 flaneur 16 Jul 2022
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I generally agree gear beta should be an absolute minimum.

Some guidebooks state in their introduction it is assumed climbers will carry a standard rack and go on to define standard. This might be wires 1-11 and cams (define a reasonable range, eg grey to blue) on routes up to E1, adding microwires (eg IMPs 1-5) on harder routes. This is a good practice in my view.

The only time gear should be mentioned is when important gear is not included in this standard rack. In this case, the approximate size of piece should be mentioned (100mm? fist size...but whose fist?). As Tom says, "big cams" is a variation on your "bad specific information". 

1
 Jimbo C 16 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

I think that if there is some crucial gear, the guidebook would do well to describe what sort of gear it is. Otherwise, I don't think suggestions should be given (where would the fun be if you knew exactly what gear to put on your harness?)

2
 Holdtickler 17 Jul 2022
In reply to tehmarks:

Thought I'd start a poll to see if we all have the same idea of what a big cam is, just for fun - https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/rock_talk/big_cam_poll-749791

 GrahamD 17 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

I'm happy with the vagueness of "big cam".  For me it still leaves that element of self reliance without failing in its role as a GUIDE book.

2
 a crap climber 17 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

The Mont Blanc Finest Routes guidebook by Batoux often specifically mentions taking certain sizes of Omega Pacific link cams, which is a bit annoying seeing as they aren't made any more and were expensive when they were. Though that guidebook is more useful for inspiration rather than the route descriptions

 alibrightman 17 Jul 2022
In reply to redjerry:

> ....thats Bay-ta btw isn't beeeta an ozzie tosser?)

bay-da, surely?

 bpmclimb 17 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

> Does anyone else find non specific gear beta in guidebook description annoying?

> Rather than ‘big cams needed’, wouldn’t ‘camalot 4 or 5 necessary’ be more helpful?

Are you imagining scenarios where there's only one possible placement, which is crucial because there's no other possible gear for some distance above/below? If so, then there may be a case for being more specific - although the problem then arises of what make of cam to quote. Historically, we've seen Friend sizes quoted in guidebooks (e.g "crucial Friend 2 in pocket"), but these days, what make of cam would be used as the yardstick? For example, Camalot might suit you, but would be pretty meaningless for me - I've only ever used Friends and Dragons/Dragonflies.

Considering all the other scenarios, which are very much in the majority, where alternative/supplementary nearby gear is possible, or the cam placement isn't very exact, like a crack with wider/narrower sections just above/below; then e.g. "big gear" is more than adequate, and being more specific would be completely pointless.

I normally take "big gear" to mean that there's a wide crack(s) or perhaps biggish pockets, which may not be obvious from the ground, and I'm being advised to carry up the larger pieces I have with me rather than leave them in the rucksack. For me, that means definitely Dragon 5 and also 6 if I have it with me; I'd also take Hexes 8&9 which are often in the bottom of my sack. If one or more unusually big cams are crucial, I would hope that would be indicated in the text by something like "difficult to protect without very big cams".

 Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator  UKC Supporter 17 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

I assume this is something you have come across in the Lofoten book?  I guess the real question is do you want to know that big cams might be useful, or not?

I don't think we can be too prescriptive about what gear you might need, there are just too many variables,

Chris

Post edited at 17:30
 Michael Gordon 17 Jul 2022
In reply to bpmclimb:

> Are you imagining scenarios where there's only one possible placement, which is crucial because there's no other possible gear for some distance above/below? If so, then there may be a case for being more specific - although the problem then arises of what make of cam to quote. Historically, we've seen Friend sizes quoted in guidebooks (e.g "crucial Friend 2 in pocket"), but these days, what make of cam would be used as the yardstick? For example, Camalot might suit you, but would be pretty meaningless for me - I've only ever used Friends and Dragons/Dragonflies.

Some have moaned above about the move to a single scheme of colour coding (with certain justifications), but this is surely a major potential advantage of such - give the colour and in theory folk will know what they need regardless of manufacturer. 

OP Tom Ripley 17 Jul 2022
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Yes! A route called Råna.

I’m quite happy to make up my own mind on what gear to bring, but I think if a guidebook is going to tell me to bring something big, it would be handy to know, roughly, how big is big. 

Otherwise don’t bother, and I’ll make up my own mind from reading the description.  

5
 Michael Gordon 17 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

> Otherwise don’t bother, and I’ll make up my own mind from reading the description.  

Let us know how you get on with guessing the cam size for "climb the wide crack"...

1
 Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator  UKC Supporter 17 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

> Yes! A route called Råna.

> I’m quite happy to make up my own mind on what gear to bring, but I think if a guidebook is going to tell me to bring something big, it would be handy to know, roughly, how big is big. 

> Otherwise don’t bother, and I’ll make up my own mind from reading the description.  

I just checked the description of Råna (n6-) in the database and I don't see any reference to 'big cams' - I assume I missing something?

Chris

OP Tom Ripley 17 Jul 2022
In reply to Chris Craggs:

It’s not in the routes description. It’s in the little yellow box that describes how to get to the crag. 
 

Tom

1
In reply to Tom Ripleyid the first ascentionist know what size, colour cam was required? No, so why do you need to know?

12
 Michael Gordon 17 Jul 2022
In reply to Stephen R Young:

Couple of thoughts:

(a) The FA may have had little choice but to take a whole load of stuff on the line which they didn't need. They, or subsequent guidebook writers, thought they'd be helpful to other ascentionists.

(b) The FA may have abbed the line and knew exactly what gear they'd need, unlike subsequent ascentionists.

 Fellover 18 Jul 2022
In reply to Stephen R Young:

> Did the first ascentionist know what size, colour cam was required? No, so why do you need to know?

No one has said that you have to know, but sometimes guidebooks do choose to give gear information. The point is about non specific guidebook gear information. Lots of guides have route descriptions saying something along the lines of "a 'big cam' is required/necessary". Tom's point is that this is really annoying because 'big cam' isn't well enough defined to be useful - so either leave out the information* or if the guidebook writer thinks the information is actually important then make the information specific enough to actually be useful. I.e. provide nothing or a measure of what size cam is required, which could be a rough crack size in mm (my preference, because it'll be useful after the current cams have changed numbering and colour conventions) or a size/colour from the widely accepted standard of the time.

*Which your post implies would presumably be a solution you would like?

OP Tom Ripley 19 Jul 2022
In reply to Stephen R Young:

> Did the first ascentionist know what size, colour cam was required? No, so why do you need to know?

I think you might be missing the point here…

1
 Holdtickler 19 Jul 2022
In reply to Tom Ripley:

The poll results are interesting and clearly show that there is no consensus on what is meant by a "big cam" (among the 250+ UKC users who completed the poll etc.). So there we have it, guide writers, if included gear beta is deemed critical, you now know that you'll need to be more precise if you want that info to be clearly interpreted! 

Of course you'll still be able to choose to be cryptic though where that is your intention. The amusing understatement of route descriptions is all part of our climbing culture  

1
In reply to Tom Ripley:

An interesting thread...

When I read a route description out to my climbing partner and it mentions 'big cams'...he gets really excited, grins like a Cheshire cat and racks up all the big cams (DMM Dragon 6, 7 & 8) on his harness! 

I tend to find 'small wires' or 'big cams' in descriptions more helpful than annoying to be honest. A little clue but still leaving room for figuring it out yourself, which for me is all part of trad climbing. I get they're heavy but meh.. 

In reply to Tom Ripley:

I just take the usual rack, after all I’m not speed climbing.

 GrahamD 20 Jul 2022
In reply to Holdtickler:

> The poll results are interesting and clearly show that there is no consensus on what is meant by a "big cam" (among the 250+ UKC users who completed the poll etc.). So there we have it, guide writers, if included gear beta is deemed critical, you now know that you'll need to be more precise if you want that info to be clearly interpreted! 

Now we just need to define "critical".

In reply to GrahamD:

> Now we just need to define "critical".

Needed to make the route climbable at the given grade?

 GrahamD 21 Jul 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

In seriousness, I don't think that works as a definition.   For a start people's perception of what is justifiable in terms of run out is very different.  Secondly, there are often routes where you can trade gear placements for speed of ascent.  Stop and get knackered or press on ? Something like Left Wall springs to mind.  It's E2 either way.

1
 Michael Gordon 21 Jul 2022
In reply to GrahamD:

> For a start people's perception of what is justifiable in terms of run out is very different. 

That's true, but most would acknowledge that having a large cam where non other gear is available could make a difference to the overall grade. It's case specific of course. For routes where you just need a normal rack, it's irrelevant.

In reply to bpmclimb:

> ...although the problem then arises of what make of cam to quote...these days, what make of cam would be used as the yardstick?

It seems that no matter which cam you choose, you'll make someone unhappy. So I propose that we use the Tricam as the standard guidebook cam measurement. Then everyone can be unhappy.


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