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The Black Diamond Journal recently posted an excellent article that discusses some of the characteristics of various types of carabiners. It’s an excellent overview of carabiners in general, but also contains some details of interest to seasoned climbers. I’ll post an excerpt here- for the rest, check out the original post on Black Diamond’s blog.
By Kolin Powick
With dozens of companies making untold numbers of carabiners these days, it can be a real chore to navigate through countless different models to choose the one that’s right for your type of climbing. Wiregate vs. standard gate. AutoLock vs. screwgate. Ultralight vs. heavy. What biners should I use on my slimmed-down alpine rack as opposed to my daily sport cragging kit? As with most pieces of climbing gear, there is a certain amount of inherent versatility, but often certain products are better suited, and more often than not designed specifically for certain applications. As with almost anything, it’s always prudent to select the right tool for the job. This month we’ll attempt to distill the basics of carabiner usage to help you figure out what’s the right choice for your type of climbing.
Differences between Industrial and Recreational Carabiners
We’ll start off with a quick word on basic carabiner use because we get this question all the time.
I get lots of random calls from arborists, fire departments, rescue workers, marinas, yachting folks, Jeep guys and warehouse personnel wanting to know if it’s okay to use our carabiners for their particular application. The official answer is always no, not recommended. Just as all of our instructions say, our gear is “For Climbing and Mountaineering Only.” But why?
The simple answer is that we are climbers and mountaineers, we know climbing and mountaineering, and we design, test and certify our gear for climbing and mountaineering. We’re not as intimate with the loads, the uses, misuses and abuses of these other applications.
What many people may not realize is the different ways that recreational gear is designed, tested and rated compared to industrial equipment. Industrial carabiners are usually made of steel, are much heavier, are much stronger, and rated differently than aluminum climbing carabiners.
An industrial carabiner is usually rated to a SWL (safe working load, or safe working limit)- of let’s say 30kN. This means that you can load the carabiner safely to 30kN. And in industrial applications there is almost always some kind of safety factor say of 2 or greater, which means that the carabiner won’t actually break until around 60kN. However, climbing gear is rated to the load at which it will actually break. So a 20kN carabiner actually breaks at that load. There’s a big difference.
Bottom line: Climbing gear shouldn’t be used in industrial applications—it just isn’t designed and rated for those types of loads and situations.
This is only a small excerpt of the complete article- to see the rest, visit Black Diamond’s Journal here.
The climbing rope is responsible for saving thousands of climbers’ lives every single day. No piece of gear more important than the rope. It’s not only your lifeline, but a link to your partner—and your ticket to a wild, high place. It’s a metaphor for everything that is truly meaningful in this vertical sport. It’s also a pretty cool piece of gear.
Andrew Bisharat is a prominent climbing blogger, publishing at his site Evening Sends. A few weeks back he published How to Choose a Climbing Rope, which contained a good bit of information for people looking to purchase a rope or simply desiring to know a bit more about them. The paragraph before the break above is from his article, as is the excerpt below. To see the rest, visit his blog.
Early climbing ropes (from the 1700s up to the 1930s) appeared around alpine villages like Zermatt, Switzerland, and were made of braided hemp, flax, manila, cotton or horsehair. These early experiments resulted in climbing cords with terrible strength-to-weight ratios, poor durability and low elasticity. They snapped in falls easily, often resulting in tragedy. The mantra of the era, “The leader must not fall,” wasn’t just a catchy phrase.
World War II was a catalyst for innovation in the climbing world, with advances made in carabiners and pitons. However, nothing revolutionized climbing as greatly as the introduction of ropes made of nylon, a material Arnold Wexler of the U.S. Bureau of Standards concluded, in 1945, was superior to all other materials for this application. In 1953, the German rope manufactuer Edelrid introduced the kernmantle rope, an even bigger innovation that resulted in extremely durable ropes that didn’t kink or twist—and best of all, they could handle repeated lead falls. A kernmantle rope has a strong braided-nylon “core” of strands (the kern) that are encased within an abrasion-resistant sheath (the mantle). All modern climbing ropes now use the kernmantle design.
Today, climbing ropes are extremely reliable. “The leader must not fall” has been replaced with “If you don’t fall, you’re not trying hard enough!” There are over 100 different climbing ropes on the market, all of which come in various lengths, diameters, and categories. It’s important to understand how ropes are classified before making a purchase. Here is a basic primer for getting onto the sharp end.
Static vs. Dynamic: This is the most general categorization of ropes, but also the most important to not confuse. Static ropes do not stretch. Dynamic ropes stretch a lot. Static ropes are not for lead climbing! Because static ropes don’t stretch, climbers typically use them for hauling loads on big-walls, or fixing lines on new routes. Static ropes can be used for top-roping, but, again, never for leading. The elastic qualities of a dynamic rope are what make falling on lead safe because, with rope stretch, the forces on the gear, belayer and climber go way down. Dynamic ropes are what you will use 99 percent of the time.
There’s more to this story! Visit Andrew’s blog here to read the rest of this article.
You know the nifty little instruction and warning labels that are usually attached to new climbing hardware? You know, the ones that are usually printed in microtext and folded into a tiny, dense pellet? The good folks at Petzl have decided that it’s best to ensure the safety of old Saint Nick, and have designed a special version just for his use. Enjoy- and Happy Holidays from all of us at Nomad Ventures!
(click to enlarge)
The Black Diamond ATC-Guide is an excellent device for belaying and rappelling and has features like a high-friction mode that make it a very good choice for users of all ability levels. However, with a little training the device can be used in “Guide mode” which allows the belayer to belay or lower two seconding climbers simultaneously. Check the video for details!
From September 15-25, all C.A.M.P. Photon carabiners and quickdraws are 25% off. If you need to add to your rack, replace old gear, or just like shiny new hardware, this is an awesome time to do it!
Coming July 2012 from Black Diamond– the Magnetron!
You can read the entire post about the Magnetron at Black Diamond’s Journal.