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large cam placement rotation


Original Post
Nathan Sullivan · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 0

As a new-ish leader, I'm wondering about bigger cam placements (#3+ new friend/camalot size) in straight parallel cracks.  Even when extended, I find the bigger cams like rotate to a stem out position if you look at them funny, typically while leading away from the placement left or right.  I see this in MP pictures as well - a leader up on a pitch, with sideways slings going to stem-out cams left and right of the rope line.  When placing medium cams, I tend to find features to prevent this, and the real small cams I find can often be slotted to totally lock them in place in wavy cracks.

How worried should I be about stem out cams in the larger sizes?  Assuming they don't walk into a bad position - will they rotate back down in a fall and catch me?  I've seen BD's take on this in other threads, but there's still something unnerving about spinning cams below you...

Sean Post · · Laguna Beach, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 24

yer gonna die

Josh · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 24

To avoid having bigger cams rotate or walk, you should use an "alpine" or "trad" draw in order to extend the placement. You should probably extend any size cam when a route tends to wander a bit because this will help to reduce rope drag (increased rope drag=cams more likely to walk). Ideally you want to avoid having the cams walk too much because they can often walk into a less ideal placement compared to how you may have originally placed the cam.

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 137
Nathan Sullivan wrote: How worried should I be about stem out cams in the larger sizes?  Assuming they don't walk into a bad position - will they rotate back down in a fall and catch me?  I've seen BD's take on this in other threads, but there's still something unnerving about spinning cams below you...

This is one of the main reasons I am shifting away from Black Diamond C4s for the big cams. The DMM Dragon 2s seem to rotate a lot less in these sizes.

Nathan Sullivan · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 0

Hmm, interesting.  Must be more lobe friction, or stiffer springs?

Live Perched · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 5
Nathan Sullivan wrote: Hmm, interesting.  Must be more lobe friction, or stiffer springs?

The Dragon springs feel snappier initially and after significant use than those on BDs but the biggest difference is the extendable sling is much floppier than the BD sling on a thumb loop.  The combination of the Dragon dynema sling and an alpine draw must be tugged tight before the Dragon will walk.  Rope movement through a biner on a slack sling won’t move the Dragon. 

In the absence of data, I don’t think lobe friction (metal composition) makes much difference between those two cams (Totems, Aliens...maybe yes).  

Also, to the OP, cams don’t walk back into position any more frequently than illiterate simians compose Shakespearean sonnets.  If your cam is walking, don’t count on it holding a fall (It might but might not). 
abandon moderation · · Tahoe · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 138

In a perfectly parallel crack it's not much of a problem. They will rotate to stem out, but when you fall they will rotate and catch you (or not fully rotate and still catch you). I've had this happen many times. It's more dangerous to place them stem out in a position where they can't rotate in a fall, cams have failed this way (though this is really hard to do with big cams).

As others have said extending, and also placing them tight (but not so overcammed as to get stuck) will help.

The real risk is them walking into a bad position, but that's a different topic.

Robert S · · Driftwood, TX · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 229
Live Perched wrote:

The Dragon springs feel snappier initially and after significant use than those on BDs but the biggest difference is the extendable sling is much floppier than the BD sling on a thumb loop.  The combination of the Dragon dynema sling and an alpine draw must be tugged tight before the Dragon will walk.  Rope movement through a biner on a slack sling won’t move the Dragon. 


I've noticed this as well. If you stick with BD, then go with more extension and maybe overcam them a little but not in get-stuck territory.

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 137
Live Perched wrote:

The Dragon springs feel snappier initially and after significant use than those on BDs but the biggest difference is the extendable sling is much floppier than the BD sling on a thumb loop.  The combination of the Dragon dynema sling and an alpine draw must be tugged tight before the Dragon will walk.  Rope movement through a biner on a slack sling won’t move the Dragon. 

Sling length could be a factor, but when I extended the C4s with 60cm dyneema slings, they were still prone to walking/turning more than the dragons (although, they obviously walked less than they did unextended).

In the absence of data, I don’t think lobe friction (metal composition) makes much difference between those two cams (Totems, Aliens...maybe yes).  


This discussion has come up before, and I think the popular theory was that the difference might be caused by the "tread" on the lobes of the Dragons, which wraps it around small protrusions in the rock to prevent it from moving. I'm speaking in the absence of data too, though, so who knows?
slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107
abandon moderation wrote: In a perfectly parallel crack it's not much of a problem. They will rotate to stem out, but when you fall they will rotate and catch you ...

hmmm, not always.  there have been a handfull of threads over the years, particularly from indian creek, where folks have fallen on cams that didn't rotate back and ended up buckling the lobes and pulling out.


in response to the OP, a couple recommendations would be slinging longer (obviously), trying to move past your cam without the rope yanking on it or your leg grabbing it (etc), and avoiding tipped out pieces which tend to rotate more easily.
Warriors · · Rock City, GA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 310
Nathan Sullivan wrote: Hmm, interesting.  Must be more lobe friction, or stiffer springs?

I'd gander it's a combination of those and that the DMM lobes are just plain wider but someone might check that...

Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,395
Warrior wrote:

I'd gander it's a combination of those and that the DMM lobes are just plain wider but someone might check that...

Gander, to glance.

Carry on. :)
Warriors · · Rock City, GA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 310
Jaren Watson wrote:

Gander, to glance.

Carry on. :)


See what I mean?
Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,395
Warrior wrote:


See what I mean?

I saw what you meant the first time. I was defining “gander” for you. 

Warriors · · Rock City, GA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 310
Jaren Watson wrote:

I saw what you meant the first time. I was defining “gander” for you. 

Hey thanks, as we say down here, you might could've...


Anybody got larger cams to compare? I ditched most all of my BDs back when Dragons were Demons... 


Edit: I think it's technically "might coulda" - next time I'm down Sand Mountain way will confirm...
David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 137
Warrior wrote:

Hey thanks, as we say down here, you might could've...
Anybody got larger cams to compare? I ditched most all of my BDs back when Dragons were Demons... 


Edit: I think it's technically "might coulda" - next time I'm down Sand Mountain way will confirm...

A brit friend of mine used to say "Might could have". Three words. Also "might should have" and "might would have".

Warriors · · Rock City, GA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 310
David Kerkeslager wrote:

A brit friend of mine used to say "Might could have". Three words. Also "might should have" and "might would have".

 I've read that Appalachian English is either "Elizabethan" or "Colonial" English...so makes sense to me.

Back to the matter, anyone got some #3s or 4s to compare? BDs always seemed a little sigogglin to me...compared to DMM anywho.
David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 137
Warrior wrote:

 I've read that Appalachian English is either "Elizabethan" or "Colonial" English...so makes sense to me.

Back to the matter, anyone got some #3s or 4s to compare? BDs always seemed a little sigogglin to me...compared to DMM anywho.

Yeah, I have the BD #3 and the Dragon #5 (these are the equivalent sizes). I usually don't carry doubles in this size so I usually just carry the Dragon.

If I lose/break my larger (4/5/6) C4 cams I'll replace them with Dragons where possible. But I don't carry the big stuff super often so it's not been a priority.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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