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Active Pro In Passive Placement


Original Post
Josh Vondran · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 86

Everyone is well aware that BD C4s are rated to be used in a passive placement if really necessary due to their dual axle design. This came up at the crag the other day while I was following for a buddy, giving him some feedback on his placements, as he is a newer trad climber. A piece he had placed but not extended walked its way back into an inward flaring crack, basically becoming a passive placement. He has a mixed rack of a couple new C4s but mostly old single axle cams (not sure what brand). I went about explaining why the C4s were okay when placed "passively" in his case, and why the older cams were not. This got me thinking. I have a set of Metolius UL Mastercams from 00 to 3. These cams have a tooth on the top of each lobe to prevent them from umbrella-ing, does this tooth make passive placement of the ULs acceptable if necessary? Does it vary by size? Should this be avoided all together?

Trevor. · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 834

My recollection is that the smallest Metolius Master cam with load bearing cam stops is the orange. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, I don't have any on hand at the moment  

On a similar line, anyone know what's the smallest passively rated cam out there? I'm guessing the little blue C4. 

sclair · · SLC, Ut · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 30
Josh Vondran wrote:

I have a set of Metolius UL Mastercams from 00 to 3. These cams have a tooth on the top of each lobe to prevent them from umbrella-ing, does this tooth make passive placement of the ULs acceptable if necessary? Does it vary by size? Should this be avoided all together?

Just to clarify, isn't it the double axel that allows the cam to be used as passive pro, not the textures lobes? C4s also have 'teeth' but their function, if any, is not for what is in question. I followed someone who fell on a completely undercammed  .5 in a parallel crack and somehow that held. Good stuff!

Josh Vondran · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 86
sclair wrote:

Just to clarify, isn't it the double axel that allows the cam to be used as passive pro, not the textures lobes? C4s also have 'teeth' but their function, if any, is not for what is in question. I followed someone who fell on a completely undercammed  .5 in a parallel crack and somehow that held. Good stuff!

The teeth I am speaking of are not the ones that make contact with the rock. They are on the side of the lobes (piece of metal between lobes as seen in image below).

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530
sclair wrote:

Just to clarify, isn't it the double axel that allows the cam to be used as passive pro, not the textures lobes? C4s also have 'teeth' but their function, if any, is not for what is in question. I followed someone who fell on a completely undercammed  .5 in a parallel crack and somehow that held. Good stuff!

The poster above is referring to a 'cam stop' when he mentioned the 'tooth' on the lobe- its a protrusion sticking out of the side of the lobe to prevent the cam from doing an umbrella if loaded passively. 

I cant remember what the stop rating is for Metolius and their site doesn't have it at first glance- i'd be hesitant to trust a milled stop versus the cam axles, though. 

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,470
Josh Vondran wrote:

Should this be avoided all together?

Yep

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348
Josh Vondran wrote:

The teeth I am speaking of are not the ones that make contact with the rock. They are on the side of the lobes (piece of metal between lobes as seen in image below).

Those are called cam stops and among other things they prevent the spring from spinning the lobes until the spring loses tension. The smaller cam stops on the smallest cams wont hold jack--possibly not even a bounce test. The old 0 and 00 Master Cams were notorious for very weak cam stops which broke on many people including me. Metolius stopped putting "teeth" on the lobes on the two smallest sizes to try to fix the issue if I recall correctly. Anyway, I dont know what the cam stops are rated for on the larger sizes. They likely will hold a fall. However, possibly not to the full breaking strength of the cam. Metolious could tell you what their official strength rating is, if any.

With regard to the Camalots, yes, it is the double axle design that allows it to hold passively. Pretty much any double axle cam should be able to hold a fall passively, although again possibly not to the full rated strength of the cam.

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

My recollection is that the smallest Metolius Master cam with load bearing cam stops is the orange. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, I don't have any on hand at the moment  

On a similar line, anyone know what's the smallest passively rated cam out there? I'm guessing the little blue C4. 

Smallest would be the smallest Wild Country Zero that's rated for whips. They all have camstops rated to the same strength as the entire unit. Metolius used to have info on their website which cam sizes had full strength cam stops but apparently not anymore. WC tech friends also have full strength cam stops on all of them above a certain size, as do all of the DMM single axle cams.

Dylan B. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 938
eli poss wrote:

Smallest would be the smallest Wild Country Zero that's rated for whips. They all have camstops rated to the same strength as the entire unit. 

My Z3 is rated to 6kn, but I'm extremely skeptical those tiny tabs that pass for cam stops are rated to that strength. 

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456
Dylan B. wrote:

My Z3 is rated to 6kn, but I'm extremely skeptical those tiny tabs that pass for cam stops are rated to that strength. 

According to Wild Country, they are. 

"Zero cams are the first micro cams to have cam stops rated to the strength of the unit."

From their cam book, page 14 at http://www.wildcountry.com/Content/Images/uploaded/Wild%20Country%20Cam%20book.pdf 

Regardless, I wouldn't want to whip on them, but apparently they're full strength

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

My recollection is that the smallest Metolius Master cam with load bearing cam stops is the orange. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, I don't have any on hand at the moment  

On a similar line, anyone know what's the smallest passively rated cam out there? I'm guessing the little blue C4. 

Thought it was the grey 0.4.  Either way, I wouldn't intentionally place cams passively, nor say that a completely uncammed unit was "ok," but that's me.

edit: you're right, it's the blue 0.3.  Apparently, they're rated the same passively as they are actively, but that doesn't mean they'll actually hold, as the ratings are based on equipment failure, not placement security.

http://demandware.edgesuite.net/aakn_prd/on/demandware.static/-/Sites-bdel/default/dw4ed898ac/instructions/F16/MM5865_F_Camalot_IS-WEB.pdf

sclair · · SLC, Ut · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 30

thanks for the clarification. Learn something new every day :)

Stagg54 Taggart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 10
20 kN wrote:

Those are called cam stops and among other things they prevent the spring from spinning the lobes until the spring loses tension. The smaller cam stops on the smallest cams wont hold jack--possibly not even a bounce test. The old 0 and 00 Master Cams were notorious for very weak cam stops which broke on many people including me. Metolius stopped putting "teeth" on the lobes on the two smallest sizes to try to fix the issue if I recall correctly. Anyway, I dont know what the cam stops are rated for on the larger sizes. They likely will hold a fall. However, possibly not to the full breaking strength of the cam. Metolious could tell you what their official strength rating is, if any.

With regard to the Camalots, yes, it is the double axle design that allows it to hold passively. Pretty much any double axle cam should be able to hold a fall passively, although again possibly not to the full rated strength of the cam.

I have a TCU where one of those stops is sheared off.

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70
Josh Vondran wrote:

Everyone is well aware that BD C4s are rated to be used in a passive placement if really necessary due to their dual axle design. This came up at the crag the other day while I was following for a buddy, giving him some feedback on his placements, as he is a newer trad climber. A piece he had placed but not extended walked its way back into an inward flaring crack, basically becoming a passive placement. He has a mixed rack of a couple new C4s but mostly old single axle cams (not sure what brand). I went about explaining why the C4s were okay when placed "passively" in his case, and why the older cams were not. This got me thinking. I have a set of Metolius UL Mastercams from 00 to 3. These cams have a tooth on the top of each lobe to prevent them from umbrella-ing, does this tooth make passive placement of the ULs acceptable if necessary? Does it vary by size? Should this be avoided all together?

I question whether a single axle cam with cam stops, or a double axle cam that walks into a inward flaring crack and umbrellas is a good placement. Of the two companies mentioned, Black Diamond is the only one that mentions anything about passive placements. And what they show as a good passive placement in illustrations of their user manual is a significant amount of flat edges of rock that the back sides of the lobe rests on with all the lobes fully opened. Not the tips of the lobes resting on the rock like this example of an inward flaring crack. Has anyone ever fallen on a cam like in this example and have it hold? It's nothing I've tried intentionally or unintentionally.

With the Master Cams and Ultralight Master Cams it varies by size. Having just looked at my Ultralights, sizes 00, 0, 1, and 2, the cam stops are really small and very likely not going to hold much if anything. I'd avoid it in those sizes. Like user Trevor mentioned, starting with size 3 Orange, the cam stops get significantly bigger. And this is in my unprofessional opinion where I'd potentially start trusting a passive placement with these cams. Metolius mentions nothing about cam stop strength in their user manual. The only thing they do say is:

"Look at the springs and cam stops, which can break if the unit is improperly placed and then loaded."

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

Considering that Metolius specifically shows tipped out cams in a flaring crack as a 'Do Not Use' placement, I would guess that they are not tested and rated.  They may hold a fall, they may not.  Another issue is that single axel cams have more rotation in the head.  So if the load is a bit off axis, the head may rotate and thus get way smaller.  A double axel cam should be more resistant to this.

Josh Vondran · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 86
Matt Himmelstein wrote:

Considering that Metolius specifically shows tipped out cams in a flaring crack as a 'Do Not Use' placement, I would guess that they are not tested and rated.

Keep in mind that a similar placement with a C4 (or any other cam for that matter) isn't considered a good placement either, despite having double axles and rated for passive placement. I don't think this has anything to do with being passively placed.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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