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Lessons learned from stuck cams.


Original Post
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

This is a public service announcement for new climbers.

I've stuck a cam or three in my life. In 20 years I've lost 4. 2 of which I was unable to try to work on due to time. The other two, totally my bad.

I just returned from a bout of trade routes, something I haven't done for a while. I saw loads of irretrievable stuck cams and it got me to thinking about brands.

How often do you come across a stuck Camalot or Friend? It's not unheard of but it's rather rare. Compare this to how often you come across a stuck Trango, Metolius, Link Cam, Salewa, or other off brands? It's probably 10 to 1 that a stuck cam is a cam I wouldn't want.

To me there are three cam companies out there, BD, Wild Country, and CCH (may their soft lobes last until the end of days). There are exceptions where Metolius seems up to par but those are exceptions (blue and yellow) and not worthy of an entire rack.

Fact is, the weird brands have hard to predict expansion ranges and poorly thought out springs and triggers.

When you shop for gear, let others loss be your gain. Buy a good brand.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:This is a public service announcement for new climbers. I've stuck a cam or three in my life. In 20 years I've lost 4. 2 of which I was unable to try to work on due to time. The other two, totally my bad. I just returned from a bout of trade routes, something I haven't done for a while. I saw loads of irretrievable stuck cams and it got me to thinking about brands. How often do you come across a stuck Camalot or Friend? It's not unheard of but it's rather rare. Compare this to how often you come across a stuck Trango, Metolius, Link Cam, Salewa, or other off brands? It's probably 10 to 1 that a stuck cam is a cam I wouldn't want. To me there are three cam companies out there, BD, Wild Country, and CCH (may their soft lobes last until the end of days). There are exceptions where Metolius seems up to par but those are exceptions (blue and yellow) and not worthy of an entire rack. Fact is, the weird brands have hard to predict expansion ranges and poorly thought out springs and triggers. When you shop for gear, let others loss be your gain. Buy a good brand.
Perhaps those theoretically "off" brands are cheaper, hence purchased by newbies, who are not particularly experienced with cam placements and judging size? IOW, the stuck cams might have nothing to do with the brand?
Brian L. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 90

I haven't encounter a whole lot of stuck gear yet, but so far I've only seen a green alien, and a red C4.

Seems like you have a lot of brand bias going on though.

Mike13 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 10

The last four stuck cams I've seen were all BD. A #4 C4, #1 C4, .3 X4, and a .2 X4... Although I would bet that the larger range on the double axle cams might make it easier to grab a proper cam.

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 650

The fixed gear I've seen this year:

Black Diamond Camalot #4
Black Diamond C4 #.3
Black Diamond C4 #1
Wild Country Tech Friend (unknown size)
About 20 pitons
About 6 nuts

The real lesson here is to never place pitons if my own circumstantial evidence is to be believed! Or maybe we should encourage new climbers to learn to place cams without getting them stuck.

Brett Kitchen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 10

Just by raw numbers, if BD cams are the most popular (as I believe they are), won't they be the ones most often found stuck?

BigNobody · · all over, mostly Utah · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 10

Impressive you guys remember what fricking stuck cams you ran across THIS YEAR. I think I had a doughnut for breakfast???

Pat A · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 20

If I come across a stuck C4 I'm much more likely to spend 10min on getting it out then something i wouldn't use like a link-cam. This would mean there are less stuck C4s out there cause people like me took them.

Also the bigger gear is definitely easier to remove once stuck.

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 125

I don't think I have ever come across a stuck cam. But I own plenty of Metolius in the smaller sizes, and I don't consider them junky or cheap in the least.

As far as issues, only the BDs actually give me issues WHILE climbing. More than once I have had a trigger wires slip out of the trigger, meaning I can only contract 2 lobes while climbing. It is not a hard fix, but it does require fiddling about with the cam, something I may not want to do on the sharp end. My rack is mainly comprised of BDs, but they are not without issues of their own.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

I've come across 3 stuck cams in my time and had a partner get one of mine stuck. I bootied a stuck green DMM dragon after spending an hour getting it out, I saw a hand sized forged friend stuck at T-wall and there's a Gen 3 #1 camalot that's been stuck for years at the local crag and my partner stuck a blue WC Zero at red rocks. So your brand bias doesn't add up in my experience.

Matt Carroll · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 35

Maybe noobs tend to buy cheep cams first, then get them stuck because they are still new to the game.

Luc-514 · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 8,989

Last cams I saw:
Wild Country Master cam #2, walked out of reach...
BD C4 #0.3 walked and overcammed out of reach of the lobes, all wires busted.

Ryan Hill · · Oakland, CA · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 30

I am sure they are gone by now, but for a while there were 4 #1 C4's stuck within 15 feet of each other on Frogland in Red Rock.

As for brands, I've seen more Link Cams stuck in cracks than I've seen on climbers' harnesses.

Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35

I'm going with Link Cams as the most stuck cam I've seen as a overall brand. When they get over cammed deep in a crack on their smaller lobes...good fucking luck.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480
Luc wrote:Last cams I saw: Wild Country Master cam #2, walked out of reach... BD C4 #0.3 walked and overcammed out of reach of the lobes, all wires busted.
Was that .3 on Tilman's Arête by any chance?
Harry Netzer · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 125

I saw three stuck cams in six pitches yesterday. It's kind of a problem at the gunks.

Jplotz · · Wenatchee, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 1,025

First pitch of the Stovelegs on The Nose, there is a stuck yellow Omega Pacific Link Cam that's been there for a few years. Last week, which stuck cam was one foot below it? Yup, another yellow Omega Pacific Link Cam. Made me chuckle.

There's still room for a 3rd...

I seem to run across a lot of yellow link cams. And red, medium HB offset stoppers. Those things weld in like crazy.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65

Are there still all those cams wedged behind Thank God Ledge on HD-RNWF?

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

I see stuck C4s all the freaking time, probably the most common stuck gear besides nuts at Devil's Lake.

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,045

i think the main issue is that people need to learn how to clean gear, and not learn how to post about their stuck/lost/whatever gear. in 27 years of climbing i have never lost a cam. period. sure, there have been a few times where i had to work hard to get something out, but nothing like i see on MP. there are literally people who are a walking yard sale around here.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,745
Tylerpratt wrote:I'm going with Link Cams as the most stuck cam I've seen as a overall brand. When they get over cammed deep in a crack on their smaller lobes...good fucking luck.
I've noticed that. There's very little chance of getting a Link cam out when it's fully compressed. And I've tried! (and, if I may be so bold, I'm pretty good at getting cams unstuck - I've retrieved close to 20)

The other design that poses special problems is Totem cams. Not the Basics, but the fancy ones with dual stems and lots of sling. The lobes on those are "taller" than conventional lobes, and when they get fully compressed the "back end" of the lobe presents itself. Get that part of the lobe in contact with the rock and it's physically impossible to relieve the tightness i.e. fixed for life.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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