Totem Cams in winter

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 Will Hempstead 25 Jan 2021

Wondering if anyone has any experience using totem cams in winter? They're apparently better in polished limestone because they dont require as high a coefficient of friction as other cams, and was wondering if this would make them better in slightly iced cracks (I realise that no cam is going to be bomber in a fully iced crack). Recently splashed out on a blue totem and would love to take it for a spin, but lockdown...

I guess the main disadvantage of a totem in winter is gonna be the lack of extendable sling

 James Milton 25 Jan 2021
In reply to Will Hempstead:

They work really well. I think the main advantage is that they don't walk as much

In reply to Will Hempstead:

I have a full set of them, so if you drop me an email I'll let you know by 2022. Probably.

 Nathan Adam 25 Jan 2021
In reply to Will Hempstead:

Been using my yellow and purple on winter routes for years now and can't say I noticed that they stick any more than the average cam. They do however, in my opinion, seem to just fit more placements better than the equivalent BD/DMM sizes and go into horizontal spots really well. 

Watch out for the wires on the blue after a wee while, the metal wears down and eventually the wires on the back of the lobes will start to rub on the rock and fray. My black and blue have both done this and need rewired which Totem offer as a service but haven't got round to it yet.

In reply to Will Hempstead:

I've climbed loads on the set my pal has. They're great but feel a bit more delicate than my BD friends which have definitely been mashed in and out of placements with a hammer in the past. Lack of extendable sling isn't really an issue: I usually find I clip the racking crab on straight up pitches I don't want to fall off, or end up putting a 60cm sling draw on them.

 ColdWill 26 Jan 2021
In reply to Will Hempstead:

I'd be a bit careful, there are cam stops so if they slide and expand you loose one more chance of them not coming out or getting damaged. Also, thought I haven't experience it yet, I suspect they might be more prone to damage through rough handling.

 Will Hempstead 26 Jan 2021
In reply to Nathan Adam:

Good tip, will do.

It was using Adams totem on that mingulay trip that converted me, psyched for 2021!

 Will Hempstead 26 Jan 2021
In reply to LucaC:

I can definitely see them getting a bit more battered...might reserve the totems for hard stuff and use dragons the rest of the time. I am a sucker for that extendable sling.

In reply to Will Hempstead:

Personally I've found them to be more prone to slippage in greasy rock like limestone I wouldn't fancy them in icy cracks.

 Will Hempstead 26 Jan 2021
In reply to JohnBson:

You've found totems more prone to slipping in limestone vs dragons/camalots? 

 Baron Weasel 27 Jan 2021
In reply to Will Hempstead:

My mate has a full set of them and they're brilliant. I have bought the black one recently but not used it yet. If you pair them with a super lightweight biner then the full set is ridiculously light. For really icy cracks I like tricams though and carry a 0.5 and a 2 which go in when nothing else will. 

In reply to Will Hempstead:

Certainly more than my dragons. Don't get me wrong I love the totems in flared placements and the smaller sizes are where they really come into their own. However I don't rate them as a do all cam in the rack, more a specialist item, supplementary to the main rack, crucial for certain placements. 

I agree with tricam man here. Definitely my preferred pro in icey cracks. 

 ColdWill 27 Jan 2021
In reply to Baron Weasel:

Yes pink Tricam every day. 

Remember when I got my first WC Friends back in the day, shocked to find I could snap them out of my practice placements at the bottom of the crag with a sling, twas shiny limestone though.

 waitout 01 Mar 2021
In reply to Will Hempstead:

They're good. Extendable sling not a big issue as for much alpine stuff you'll extend it more than any extending sling will go anyway.

Where Totems have an issue is if they get snotted up with ice, the absence of a rigid stem and the complex off springs and wires makes them harder to just tap the ice out of. Not a deal breaker though.

 Mark Bannan 03 Mar 2021
In reply to Will Hempstead:

I haven't used Totems in winter, but ages ago when I was more proficient at mixed climbing, I took one of only 2 winter leader falls from Crest Route in winter onto a 0.75 Camalot. I fell about 3 feet, dusted myself off and led the rest of the pitch, using a mental hammered axe move.

The other leader fall also left me uninjured, but was terrifying by comparison. I rushed the top move on Temptress (Lochnagar; felt more like IV than III that day) and took a 15 foot flyer and landed in a snowdrift. This put me off mixed climbing very effectively, although I do appreciate that many Lochnagar mixed routes are far less well protected and "friendly" than those in the Norries or the 'Coe.

In my bumbly old age, I have a very strong preference for ice and low-grade mountaineering routes and I never take cams in winter. Firstly, I'm worried about trashing them and secondly I prefer to take 4 pegs, 2 warthogs and a bulldog to maximise my gear choice. That said, I 

 Mark Bannan 03 Mar 2021
In reply to Mark Bannan:

usually use the pegs for belays.

(soz - I cut my own message in half. Better that than my ropes!)

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