Dropped Cam... Still good?


Original Post
Nick Niebuhr · · Telluride, CO · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 460

So today I accidentally dropped my friend's #1 camalot about 50 ft while cleaning a route. When we got down we inspected it and it only had a little ding on a lobe and one of the wires needed to be moved a bit on the trigger. It looks fine, but are there potential problems that we can't see? Like some kind of hairline fracture that'll explode it if it's fallen on or something?
Thanks

Ross Ayer · · Southington, CT · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 40

Stress fractures are a very serious concern and often cannot be seen. Best bet is to retire it as a Christmas tree ornament.

Danger-Russ Gordon · · Tempe, AZ · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 200

Pics would help, but odds are very good its fine. At the end of the day the only opinion that really matters is yours, but if you decide to retire it, let me know and I'll buy it from y'all ;)

Xam · · Boulder, Co · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 8

Ross Ayer: Are you joking or serious?

Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 163

Send it to me and I will dispose of it properly.

Lee Green · · Edmonton, Alberta · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 50

If it's mechanically sound, don't worry about the aluminum. There is still a persistent myth out there, believed even by some AMGA guides, that dropped aluminum hardware (carabiners, belay devices, etc.) develop "microfractures" that you can't see and yer gunna die. That was debunked in 2007 in testing at the University of Colorado and has been proven false several times since. I asked my son about it (he's not a guide but his masters in materials science engineering and research in aluminum alloys should count for something, no?), and he says the same. If it looks significantly damaged, don't use it; if not, don't worry about it.

apoet · · AZ · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 183

If the cam (or basically any other protection for that matter) operates correctly and passes visual inspection, there is no reason not to use it. I will change my opinion on this if anyone has evidence which shows dropped gear fails to perform as expected.

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128

This is one of the longest-standing myths in climbing. There was once a time when dropped gear could possibly in small fractures, but that became history before many of us were born. There is little, if any, gear still in active use that will develop micro fractures if dropped. This myth only continues to propagate and exist because people tend to believe that if something is commonly mentioned then it must be true.

Ball · · Oakridge, OR · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 45

Unless you're having to bend the lobes back into alignment by 90° you're fine (unless they're the original chouinard u-stems which were 7000 series aluminum)

Hell, the original friends were so overbuilt they could be that bad and you could hammer them straight and call them good.

If the axles are bent or the axle holes oval-ized then you might have to retire them.

Muscrat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 3,040

Proper gear disposal and recycling is the next big issue in eco-friendly climbing. Please e-mail me for the address to send this obviously DANGEROUS item and i, we, will recycle it into it's proper place.
(My rack)
thank you

NorCalNomad · · San Francisco · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 55

YER GUNNA DIE

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,865
J Marsella wrote: Was wondering who would be the first to say it
I'm only surprised that anyone out there still thinks this is clever or witty.
will ar · · San Antonio, TX · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 215

Manufacturers are probably going to err on the side of caution when recommending to replace gear. It wouldn't hurt to see what they say. In the case of BD I think they say look for visible damage.

As an engineer I agree with all the previous posts that you don't need to worry about micro fractures.

Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 21,755

In the early 90's, then the BD ATC was out in the first generation (to replace stitch plates & Figure-8's) I dropped one about 200' onto rock. It got dinged up pretty hard when it bounced about 20' up and went spinning into the woods.

Anyway, I recovered it and a lot of folks had a lot of ideas about it's future. So we decided to test it. But not as is, we wanted an extreme case.
I put it on a rock and pounded the shape out of it with another cinder-block sized stone for quite a while.

Then we sent it back to BD for testing.

They gave us a full report with the data. They said it was hard to run the test because the slots had been beaten almost too narrow for the standard set up, but the data for it was pretty close to a normal failure in the end.

That's right, the thing beat down to paralleled failed about as normal.

While this does not prove anything about the viability of any other particular piece in any other particular circumstance, it hardly feeds the 'yer gonna die' narrative.

As for your cam? I'd climb on it so long as the action was smooth. The lobes can get pretty high forces and good dents on them when placed in uneven surfaces and fallen on, and we don't retire them on that alone either.

Brendan Blanchard · · Boulder, CO · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 475
apoet wrote:If the cam (or basically any other protection for that matter) operates correctly and passes visual inspection, there is no reason not to use it. I will change my opinion on this if anyone has evidence which shows dropped gear fails to perform as expected.
This. Though it's important to note that this DOES NOT APPLY to soft goods. Slings, ropes, harnesses etc can all have less-than-visible chemical, UV, or age damage and should be treated with more caution. However, in the case of physical damage, don't worry about slings etc unless they're hanging by threads of course.
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

It's fine.

Nick Niebuhr · · Telluride, CO · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 460

Thanks for the good news! Everything on it works fine and looks fine so I won't be needing to send it to anyone for 'proper disposal'

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438

I dropped my #1 off the top of a pitch this spring, it's caught a few falls since.

Ross Ayer · · Southington, CT · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 40

I was serious, but I have researched the issue. I don't think that you should drop gear, but it seems that it is not as huge of a concern as I originally thought. I apologize for my error.

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 165

I have had multi pieces of gear dropped 50ft+ by followers cleaning it. I have also fallen on this gear after it was dropped and they are fine.

Cory Furrow · · Blacksburg, VA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0
Lee Green wrote:There is still a persistent myth out there, believed even by some AMGA guides, that dropped aluminum hardware (carabiners, belay devices, etc.) develop "microfractures" that you can't see and yer gunna die. That was debunked in 2007 in testing at the University of Colorado and has been proven false several times since.
Do you have a link to this study and/or more information? I'd love to read it.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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