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NOW LIVE! Dan Middleton - BMC - Live on UKC

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 UKC News 05 Aug 2010
Dan Middleton - BMC Technical Officer, 3 kbDan Middleton is the BMC Technical Officer. He knows all about gear. How it works, how it breaks and how it is made.

Dan is going live on the UKC Forums TODAY!! Monday the 9th of August to answer your questions on anything gear related.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=57091

 alex 09 Aug 2010
In reply to UKC News:

Hi Dan

Can you tell me a little more about GPSs? I'm thinking of getting one for walking - what should I look out for?

In reply to alex:

There will be an article on GPS in the next issue of Summit (you should know being the editor)

It's best to decide how you are going to use the GPS. If you intend to navigate using a map and compass, with the GPS for back up, emergencies and confirmation of your position, then look for a basic weatherproof unit.

If you plan to navigate using the GPS, with the map and compass kept in your pack as a backup, then you'll need one with a large screen into which you can load the appropriate maps. Good battery life and software for loading routes in via you PC are also useful if you going to do this.
In reply to UKC News: Hi Dan,

Thanks for coming on the forums.

I have a question, although I am not sure if it is your area.

I have been looking at the Steripen water treatment thing - as boiling or iodine treatment is a bit of a pain. I was just thinking of using it when travelling abroad, but read recently that UK mountain streams might not be safe to drink.

I have been drinking them all my life with no ill effect <ahem - watch it!> and just wondered if you knew anything about that sort of thing?

Steripen review here: http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=1131

 Gazlynn 09 Aug 2010
In reply to UKC News:

Hi Dan

Could you please solve a problem that I have when winter camping in Scotland.
I have a good sleeping bag that is rated to comfy at -18 and a thermarest 4 and a Vaude tent (not 4 season). I feel very cold from the ground up. Could you give me a solution to stop this from happening?


In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Hi Jack,

I've always done the same as you - my rule is only drink water high up, that's fast running. But it's always a risk, so something like this might be worth considering.

As far as the technology goes, I can't claim to be any expert on this. All the different methods (micro filters, chemicals, UV) have their pro's and con's. This particular method won't filter out particulate contamination, toxic material etc. The water needs to be clear and without colour, otherwise UV doesn't work very well. But, for disinfecting clear mountain stream water, it looks like a good lightweight option.
 Chris the Tall 09 Aug 2010
In reply to UKC News:
Hi Dan

Having spent ages trying to explain fall factors to various friends I always get asked about how much effect the weight of the climber has.

i.e. if a 50kg takes a factor 1 fall, what factor fall from someone weighing 100kg would be an equivalent strain on the rope ?

My guess would be 0.5, but is it that simple ?
 Paul at work 09 Aug 2010
In reply to Dan Middleton, BMC:

Hi Dan, A few years ago I gave you a small collection of climbing helmets for you to test to destruction. These ranged from a helmet that was 10 or so years old, to a few more modern ones.

Did the results for these tests ever get published? If so where?
 Oceanic 09 Aug 2010
In reply to UKC News:

What happens if you clip into a bolt with a sewn daisy chain, climb above the bolt, then fall off.

Would the daisy chain fail, because there would be minimal shock absorption?

Or would the pockets of the daisy chain rip, like a Screamer, and absorb some of the energy?
In reply to Gazlynn:


It's hard to give you a quick answer as there are lots of factors at work here. Sometimes eating more can be the solution! Winter camping in Scotland shouldn't be underestimated though.

Is all your insulation dry and fairly snug fitting? Hood and baffles all done up etc? Is the bag tired? Down may lose loft if stored badly or has gotten damp, synthetics begin to degrade after about 5 years. Only once you've made sure what you have already got is working effectively would I look at perhaps upgrading your kit. I'd also try wearing my thermals and a hat in my sleeping bag first too.

What is your tent like? 3 season tents often have mesh and plenty of ventilation. For winter you need the option of venting but also keeping warm air in and draughts out. A proper 4 season mountain tent may make some difference.

If you have been feeling the cold through the ground, then it may be that a warmer mat may be worth considering. Hard to be more precise really without looking at your whole setup and its condition. A good specialist retailer should be able to help though.
In reply to UKC News: Oh, well, playing catch up already! Thought I'd be having a nice easy day today drinking the odd cappucino!
 imagist 09 Aug 2010
I dropped my Petzl Reverso 3 belay device down a fairly slabby crag about 20 meters and it more bounced lightly than hit hard before coming to rest.
My climbing partner was of the opinion that I should retire it immediately. But because it is made of aluminum (or alloy?) and had no obvious sign of damage or even impact I thought it would be fine and could not have any hidden hairline fractures or similar.
Is it possible there could be defects that even though it looks and seems fine might lead to failure?
In reply to Chris the Tall:

Hi Chris,

How's it going? Not so simple, check out the theoretical model here: http://www.bealplanet.com/portail-2006/index.php?page=force_choc&lang=us

Have fun working it out, hope your maths is better than mine!
In reply to Paul at work:

Hi Paul,

If I remember correctly, we used these at the 2008 Tech Conference. The results were published in a conference report here. http://www.thebmc.co.uk/Download.aspx?id=393

The equipment wasn't calibrated, so the results can only be used for comparison on the day really.

In reply to Oceanic:

Not a good idea. Most daisy chain pockets rip at around 2kN force, so they would probably rip, yes. Whether they'd absorb much energy, I'm not sure - they certainly were never manufacturered with this in mind! If the sling didn't fail, you would. No, if you're going to fall, fall on to a rope -it's what they're good at.
In reply to imagist:


The view I was taught as a young climber was if you dropped it, retire it. Now I know a bit more, I have a simple rule for metal items. If it looks OK, works OK, then it probably is OK. The Reverso is anodised, so any major impacts or distortion to the metal will show up as crazing on the surface. If you can't see anything like this, then personally I'd carry on using it, particularly as it's such a simple device. It's your choice though - if you are worried about it, spend the cash and be more careful next time!
 sweenyt 09 Aug 2010
(In reply to Chris the Tall)
> Hi Chris,
> How's it going? Not so simple, check out the theoretical model here: http://www.bealplanet.com/portail-2006/index.php?page=force_choc&lang=us
> Have fun working it out, hope your maths is better than mine!

Using this model, the force generated by a factor 1 fall by a 50kg climber onto a rope with a maximum impact force of 8.5kN is 5.077kN. For a 100kg climber falling on the same rope to generate the same force the fall factor is 0.403.

Some say I have too much time on my hands... If you really fancy the sums behind it let me know.


In reply to Gazlynn: Hi, I do plenty of winter camping in Finland so from my experience I'd suggest that if you are feeling cold from below, simply add more insulation below you. I'm a big fan of using a foam mat then a thermarest on top. This started as the cheapest solution I could think of, but it works so well I've not changed my system despite having enough money to experiment with other mats if I wished now. I have 3/4 length ultralite Thermarest and I put that on top of my Ridgerest. Then I use my rucsac under my feet - but if you have a full length thermarest you won't need to do that. The Ridgerests aren't to heavy and aren't too expensive - although they are a bit bulky I guess if you were going to be alpine climbing with it strapped to your pack. I've used that system down to almost -30 and haven't felt cold from below. Also if somehow you puncture your thermarest - if you have a Ridgerest you still have some insulation.

Another trick that can help is use your rope if you are climbing and have one with you. Flake it out in zigzag then put whatever mat you have on top it. This saved a friend once when we were camping in Arctic Norway in winter and she was very miserable with just a thinnish karrimat.

Hope that helps.
 Chris the Tall 09 Aug 2010
In reply to sweenyt:

I used to be able to do that sort of maths, but it was 25 years ago

Might have a play around with Excel !
schnauzerdog 09 Aug 2010
Hi Dan,

Do you know if it's safe to use a kong gi-gi for belaying a lead climber? It seems like you could use it like a normal belay plate but there's no mention of using it for that purpose in the instruction manual - only seconding, abseiling and rescue situations. It's fantastic for belaying up your second(s) on multi-pitch routes.

We tried using it for belaying the leader the same way you would belay up your second (but upside down if you know what I mean) but the autoblocking feature makes it a nightmare for the belayer to both feed out the rope and sort out any rope tangles at the same time. I wondered if you could thread it like an ATC instead to avoid this problem. Would this provide enough friction to hold a fall though? It's reputed to be very fast for abseiling (although I've never tried it).

In reply to schnauzerdog:

The GiGi is only for belaying seconds, not the leader. I've never used one myself, but it looks like the slots are too wide, and the plate not deep enough, to bend the rope enough to provide much braking force if used as a conventional plate. Meant to be very good for fast belaying of the second though.
Robert Walker 09 Aug 2010
In reply to Dan Middleton, BMC: I'll be in the alps in Sep with a climbing partner and we will be making use of the fixed ropes on some of the climbs. I'm thinking of backing up with a 'via ferrata style' double carrabiner system for those vertical exposed pitches rather than two of us on an unattached fixed short rope. I know the hand over hand can be tiring by all accounts so training ongoing but do you see any problems with employing this gear on the fixed ropes - not withstanding 'pushing' guides from the rear of course - as I am assuming the carrabiner if big enough can clip + slide between fixings? Also any idea of a suitable large carrabiner? or other technique?

Many thanks
 mattrm 09 Aug 2010
In reply to UKC News:

I'm retiring my current hardshell as it's quite worn and two sizes too big for me now I've managed to loose a bit of weight. So I've now got to sort out a new jacket in time for the winter in Scotland. I currently wear Paramo Aspira trousers on my legs. I have a thick (260) merino baselayer that I 'top up' with a thin fleece underneath my old hardshell. I've been thinking of trying a softshell with a lightweight hardshell for really grim weather up in Scotland. My current idea is to have something like a Rab VR Jacket and then a Rab Demand Pull-over (TNF do one like that as well). I tend to get very hot when I'm active, but cool down really quickly. I have a Paramo Torres smock for when I'm stopped as a result. Do you think that a softshell and lightweight hardshell combo would be enough for winter climbing? Or should I stick to buying a more traditional hardshell/go whole hog on Paramo stuff eg. something like a Lowe Alpine Flash, Rab Latok, Paramo Velez/Aspira or a Montane Superfly XT?
 Gazlynn 09 Aug 2010
In reply to TobyA and Dan

great ideas there thanks
Mike Bainbridge 09 Aug 2010
In reply to UKC News: Hi Dan,I recently bought a new harness as my old one was indeed old.The sewn belay loop on the new one only has 2 sets of stitching.I assume this is because of advances in fabric technology i.e. its dynema or something.Only thing is looking at my also recently purchased dynema slings and extenders they all seem to have the old 5 or 6 sets of stitching which had me scratching my head.I am not overly worried as I know Petzl QA is fine I just wondered why?


p.s. cappuchino,when I was a lad we had to drink brook water!
In reply to Robert Walker:

I tend to avoid routes with fixed ropes as I'm not really a fan - perhaps someone with more experience of this might be able to help better.

I have climbed a fair bit in the Alps, mostly rock. The only fixed ropes and cables I've used have been short sections where I've been happy to just clip in with a sling lanyard and a screwgate. I'm operating on the basis that I'm soloing with a bit of extra security, using a solution that balances safety against speed/equipment. (In the Alps, speed is safety)

Instead of making things more complex and using more kit, you're probably looking at moving together or belaying if it gets harder and steeper.
In reply to mattrm:

You're spoilt for choice aren't you? It's such a personal thing really, I'd hesitate to offer much advice really.

If you go for a lightweight hardshell, there's some around which are light and fairly durable. I like a minimal jacket myself. I'm sold on the action layer and belay jacket system myself, so it's softshell, l/w hardshell in the bag and a big belay jkt. This seems to work OK most of the time, but you can guarantee that at some point you will be in utter misery whatever you are wearing!

I've used Paramo as well, and it was very good. My only issue was it was too warm, but it has since moved on and there are more flexible options. May well be worth revisiting (I know a few very active winter climbers who swear by it).
 beychae 09 Aug 2010
In reply to UKC News:

Hi Dan,
A lot of the people I climb with indoors were taught to use their belay krab 'upside down', so the big end is attached to their harness loop, and the small end holds the belay device. This seems to reduce the risk of cross-loading the krab, but my understanding was that HMS krabs are designed so the long top bar is the one in contact with the belay device. Do you see any problems with using the krab 'upside down'?
In reply to Mike Bainbridge:

Hey Burt, how's Scotland? I've never seen you drink water, only beer...

If I was to answer, I'd be guessing! All I know is that modern computer control means that stitch patterns can be very precise and accurate, so there is no need for more stitching than is really needed.

There may be more lines needed on dyneema slings either because they are much narrower (so you need more lines for the same amount of stitching), or it may be because the dyneema being stiffer cuts the nylon stitching fabric more, so the load needs spreading out more. I'd have to ask the manufacturer to know the answer though!
In reply to beychae:

The classic HMS krab was never designed with belay devices in mind- it's a curious case of evolution and climbers adapting equipment for new purposes. An HMS is designed for use with an Italian hitch belay knot; a wide top end is needed to allow the knot to invert hence the shape.

When belay plates were first introduced, it was found that an HMS enabled smoother belaying - devices tend to sit at an angle and jam a bit if used with a standard D-shape krab. But, there is this problem of the top heavy krab turning. If you do turn the HMS round, you simply remove the point of using it over and above any other krab!

There is help though. Some modern belay krabs have tweaked the geometry to invert less readily, or have capture systems to keep the krab in position.
 Si dH 09 Aug 2010
In reply to Dan Middleton, BMC:
> (In reply to beychae)

> There is help though. Some modern belay krabs have tweaked the geometry to invert less readily, or have capture systems to keep the krab in position.

An interesting point this Dan. I bought one of these new design HMSs (with a shaped bottom end to fit the belay loop on your harness, but not with a capture system). I bought it mainly because it was very light - this feature just being a bonus - but in fact it seems to have made the problem worse. I think this is because the geometry is such that the krab is now more top heavy, and the shaped bottom end doesnt really make much difference. Worse, when it does invert, the shaped bottom end causes two roeps to jam much more in it than a standard shape HMS. I suspect that the only solution really is a krab with a capture system on it.
Any views/experience?
Mike Bainbridge 09 Aug 2010
In reply to Dan Middleton, BMC: Scotland is good,there could be some good news for this coming winter too.The rowan trees are fully loaded with berries right now,this is what happened last year.So if the old wives tales work this could be another baltic winter,fingers crossed!

In reply to Si dH:

I seem to manage OK with my DMM belay krab; and it is very light. Before that I had a Petzl Attache until I lost it. That seemed pretty good too! So, personally I've never felt the need for one with a captive end. If you do, some of the new products mentioned in the UKC gear review from Freidrichshafen look pretty handy.
 mattrm 09 Aug 2010
In reply to Dan Middleton, BMC:

Thanks for that. I know it's a hard thing to advise on, but I always like to hear what others use, it can be helpful in making a decision on what to do.
In reply to mattrm:

Well thanks for all the questions today, I think I got off pretty lightly there. Signing off now, but if anything springs to mind fire away as I'll check the thread over the next few days.
 Rikardo 09 Aug 2010
In reply to UKC News:
Have you conducted many tests on carabiners that have been subjected to wear from many repeated abseils?

Assuming yes, what were the results?
 Steve Crowe 09 Aug 2010
In reply to UKC News:

Hi Dan

I am concerned at the number of new glue bolts that appear to be becoming unstuck! They are often the bolts protecting the crux. Do you know if they has been any tests that replicate the the repeated stress that the glue in bolts have to endure on popular sports routes?

The original hilti glue seems to be fairing better than the modern glues being using more recently.

With the mild steel bolts they got replaced when they looked rusty, how do we know when the glue in bolts need replacing?

In reply to Rikardo:

Well, if the gate is closed, even a considerable amount of wear doesn't reduce the strength by any noticeable amount. You should still retire worn krabs which are in normal use, because they will damage your ropes, and because the gate open strength will be reduced. Some test results here if you're interested:

In reply to Steve Crowe:

Hi Steve, tricky to say why they've come loose. A good glue in, placed correctly shouldn't come loose. Repeat loading tests have been done, and this technology is used for building bridges etc. It's designed to last and to withstand high dynamic loads.

This is the first I've heard of this issue, so perhaps it's isolated to a specific area and bolt/resin combination? Hard to tell without investigating further. If you want to mail me with some examples I'll get the ball rolling on that.

If we're talking about lifespan, it depends again on the specific materials used and the bolt model. The large majority of the original Pen Trwyn Eco-bolts have recently passed their inspection and are 20 years old and going strong. Not bad eh?

As far as knowing when to replace a glue in; is the visible part of the anchor showing evidence of cracking, excessive wear or corrosion? Does the anchor rotate or can it be pulled out? If yes to any of these, then replace it.

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