30 September 2013

Black Diamond testing lab: Acid damage to climbing gear

Kolin Powick has added another excellent article to the Black Diamond QC Lab blog about acid damage to climbing gear. He received an email from a climber whose harness had inexplicably failed while being lowered on a top rope. It turned out the harness had been exposed to an acid - an interesting tell-tale sign is discolouration in the stitching of the waist loop. Otherwise the harness looked in generally reasonable condition, but the stitching had turned pink/red as opposed to the normal grey colour.

The left hand harness has been exposed to a household product containing hydrochloric acid, and sulphuric acid on the right. Image from Black Diamond

Kolin tests the effect of about a dozen different household goods on the strength of a harness. Some are catastrophic, some have little effect - but it's not always obvious which will cause damage and which won't.

20 July 2013

New DMM gear: Thor carabiner with 11kN open gate strength, Rhino belay carabiner with 'horn'

DMM have announced a few new products at the OutDoor Friedrichshafen trade show in Germany. First, the Thor carabiner - a crab with 11 kN open gate strength and extra material in the high wear areas (where the rope runs and the bolt or gear touches). It weighs in at 36g, so a touch heavier than the Spectre 2 (33g) or Alpha Trad (34g). Although ideally the gate should stay closed when climbing, some may find it reassuring for their carabiners to be strong enough to hold a large fall even if the gate were to come open.

Image from DMM

Another new carabiner is the Rhino belay screwgate. This interesting looking crab has a 'horn' which they say "prevents assisted locking belay devices rotating off the top bar and on to the spine reducing the risk of cross loading, it also works well with selected DMM pulleys".

Image from DMM

15 June 2013

Load testing real trad gear placements

Michael Law has tested a collection of trad gear placements to see how solid 'real' placements are in real rock. He used a hydraulic piston to pull each placement until failure. Some of the results are quite surprising - with some very marginal looking placements taking surprising loads. He tests Camp Double nuts, a Wild Country Hex, an HB Quad Cam, a Camp Tricam, and a tied off chicken head.

This extremely marginal looking hex took around 14kN before failing:

2 June 2013

The anti cam by Matt Maddaloni - cam for large detached flakes

Matt Maddaloni designed and built an ingenious anti-cam in 2010. The anti-cam is designed to attach to large flakes by gripping to only the two sides of the flake itself (as opposed to the inside of the flake and wall). He documents some of the process on the rockclimbing forums

Image from  Matt Maddaloni  on rockclimbing forums 

There's also some vimeo clips of the process and of the antic-cam in use:

The Season Episode 9 from Duct Tape Then Beer on Vimeo.

The Season Episode 15 from Duct Tape Then Beer on Vimeo.

Other parts: http://vimeo.com/11641154 and http://vimeo.com/11745783

20 April 2013

Black Diamond: the dangers of modifying climbing hardwear

It's not surprising to hear a manufacturer asking its users not to modify their climbing hardware, but it is interesting to hear why. Black Diamond have written an interesting article about the various modifications that they are often asked about; re-slinging cams with extender slings, using a screamer between you and your ice axes to hold a fall, swapping the bails on your crampons. They carried out tests on each of these - and generally the result is not ideal; with failures at relatively low loads.

13 April 2013

Edelrid Mirco Jul and Mega Jul belay devices

An interesting new pair of belay devices from Edelrid - the Micro Jul (for narrow ropes) and Mega Jul are assisted braking device which can also be used in 'guide mode' where two seconds can be brought up at the same time. It looks like there's a fairly easy way to lower fallen seconds when on guide mode too. It appears to be similar to the Mammut Smart in the way its assisted braking works, so it will be interesting to see if it also suffers from the awkward rope-feeding.

EDELRID Micro Jul & Mega Jul EN from EDELRID on Vimeo.

3 March 2013

Petzl Laser Speed Light ice screw

One of the more interesting of Petzl's latest product announcements is the Petzl Laser Light Speed ice screw - a screw with an aluminium main body and a steel tip. It weighs 100g (for a 17cm screw) and has a folding handle. The older Laser Sonic weighs 185g for a 17cm screw, while a Black DIamond Express weighs 145g even with a slightly shorter length at 16cm. I would be interested to see exactly how they have made the connection between the two types of metal, because seamlessly joining steel and aluminium has in the past been a bit of an engineering challenge.

Image from UKC

5 January 2013

1972 Chouinard Equipment Catalogue

A fascinating piece of history: the 1972 Chouinard Catalogue has all kinds of interesting snippets and historical info.

Cover of the 1972 Chouinard Catalogue (image from Black Diamond)

The history part of the Patagonia website is also very interesting.