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Tricams....A thing of the past?
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Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Another day at the city.
2 years ago I purchased my first set of Camp Tricams. I initially purchased them as a cheap way to supplement my rack in place of cams since I couldn't afford many at the time. At first, I was somewhat hesitant about placing them since it took so long for me to get them set right. After a season of practice I finally got it down and they have now become my main go to piece on most routes. For me, they're by far the most versatile piece of pro on my rack. With that being said, I have yet to climb with anyone who uses or has used them. Everyone I've ever climbed with seems to be taken by surprise when cleaning a pitch I've lead and they come across one. So my question is this, Do you still use tricams regularly or have you replaced them with more modern gear such as cams, Big Bro's, etc.? Is the lack of tricam usage an area type thing? They still sell them and Camp has even improved them in recent years so that means someone is still using them. Thoughts? Bonneville
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Joined Dec 2, 2013
154 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Profile pic taken at Muir Beach.
What's a tricam? Gary N
From Durango, CO
Joined Jul 26, 2010
568 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: girl40
They had their time and still have a lot of utility in horizontals at places like the Gunks or Lovers Leap. I thought they were good when modded, but personally haven't carried them in about twenty years as they aren't the best option for our local basalt.





Healyje
From PDX
Joined Jan 31, 2006
226 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Another day at the city.
Healyje wrote:
I thought they were good when modded


What was the tape mod for? To keep the sling from pivoting? If so, was this to use them more as an odd shaped stopper?
Bonneville
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Joined Dec 2, 2013
154 points
Administrator
Mar 12, 2016
Bonneville wrote:
2 years ago I purchased my first set of Camp Tricams. I initially purchased them as a cheap way to supplement my rack in place of cams since I couldn't afford many at the time. At first, I was somewhat hesitant about placing them since it took so long for me to get them set right. After a season of practice I finally got it down and they have now become my main go to piece on most routes. For me, they're by far the most versatile piece of pro on my rack. With that being said, I have yet to climb with anyone who uses or has used them. Everyone I've ever climbed with seems to be taken by surprise when cleaning a pitch I've lead and they come across one. So my question is this, Do you still use tricams regularly or have you replaced them with more modern gear such as cams, Big Bro's, etc.? Is the lack of tricam usage an area type thing? They still sell them and Camp has even improved them in recent years so that means someone is still using them. Thoughts?
I've never used tricams. I use standard cams and stoppers, that's it. No hexes, tricams, bigbros, ect. There is really only one route ever that I can think of in which I really wished I had a tricam and I dident. Otherwise, I've always made do just fine with cams.
20 kN
From Hawaii
Joined Feb 2, 2009
1,214 points
Mar 12, 2016
i used them quite a bit on moderate long trad routes in the canadian rockies ...

Cr@p limestone, chossy quartzite where you never know if a cam might pull ... not to mention suspect rock where you may not want to put too much outward force on big flakes and blocks

of course you could just not place any gear and at all and do 100+ foot runnouts =P

they are also great for less travelled routes where the cracks may not exactly be totally clean, having some dirt, moss, mud, and sometimes even ice in em .. not to mention its cheaper to bail off them than cams

they are a cheap and fairly light piece of insurance for when yr not certain if you need more gear, or if you may need to leave gear behind ...

the also take the place of larger size nuts

the tape (and a plastic packing strip or straw underneath) is to stiffen them up so they can be placed one handed

however this also increases the chance of them rattling out, so i always use a 60 cm extendible on em

also remember that while you can place em one handed, its much harder to clean em one handed for the second

;)
bearbreeder
Joined Mar 1, 2009
3,068 points
Mar 12, 2016
Tricam are the best pro for certain kinds of solution pockets found at Whitehorse ledge. But yeah I'd consider them a specialty or budget kind of pro. I'd much rather fall on a cam or nut than a tricam. They just seem unstable. HarryN
Joined Dec 21, 2011
115 points
Mar 12, 2016
I rarely use them but when I do its because nothong else will work.

Rock Climbing Photo: Laurel  Knob, NC pockets.
Laurel Knob, NC pockets.
nbrown
From western NC
Joined Nov 6, 2007
5,509 points
Administrator
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Leading "Clocher - clochetons Traverse" ...
I carry and use them, routinely. Doug Hemken
Joined Oct 1, 2004
5,783 points
Mar 12, 2016
I have a biner racked with several pieces of specialized gear, the stuff that will work when nothing else will; my pink tricam stays on that biner. fromtheestuary
Joined Sep 21, 2014
61 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Belaying 2nd (or was it 3rd? 4th?) on Turk's Head ...
Tricams...you love 'em, or you hate 'em. Personally, I think they're great and place them fairly often. They're super light, cheap, and you barely notice them on your rack. I think some people (particularly cam users) get weirded out by how little surface area the point comes in contact with the rock, but IMO this is what is so beautiful about them, because they can place well in funky pockets/flares where anything else would be garbage. Ted Pinson
From Chicago, IL
Joined Jul 11, 2014
183 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Old school liebacker
What the other proponents have stated, I have also found true. They also seem to set better in soft rock. I do not leave home w/o them. Well over a decade back there was a fun moderate at Courtright resevoir CA called Aplodontia that had only one or two bolts in 5 pitches. The rest of the pro was tricams in erosion pockets. Fun line! Roy Suggett
Joined Jul 20, 2009
6,245 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: girl40
bearbreeder wrote:
however this also increases the chance of them rattling out, so i always use a 60 cm extendible on em


I always found them fairly rattle-resistant and by and large rotated securely even if this is less than desirable. As you say, and it 'bears' repeating,it doesn't matter what the pro is, you should always sling / extend appropriately.

bearbreeder wrote:
also remember that while you can place em one handed, it's much harder to clean em one handed for the second


As for this, it depends. Most placements you just push in on the stem and they come right out. But, you have to be conscious of your placements and thinking of the poor sap who has to clean them. Doing a lot of rope-soloing, I was that sap so over time learned to have a lighter touch.
Healyje
From PDX
Joined Jan 31, 2006
226 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Me on Sneffels
12 years of use and I love mine. Don't use them all the time but bring them all the time.

I tend to use them as one piece in a 3 point anchor. Usually, it seems they fit in odd and awkward placements. And agreed, I always take the time to talk to my 2nd about them before leaving the ground as to this day, people aren't familiar with them or have never removed one. Like you, once I learned to place them, they are as solid as my other passive/active pro.
climbnowworklater
From Colorado Springs
Joined Sep 23, 2015
15 points
Mar 12, 2016
I carry them all the time, have for years and can't remember a trad pitch where I have not used them. (Been climbing mostly in NH and the Adirondacks.) beensandbagged
From R.I.
Joined Oct 20, 2013
16 points
Mar 12, 2016
As healyj said, they are very useful in horizontals. Here's a Gunks anchor from a year ago:

Rock Climbing Photo: 4 piece anchor
4 piece anchor
Gunkiemike
Joined Jul 29, 2009
2,658 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Seneca mist
As someone once said on MP "it's not a trad rack unless it has tricams"
I have doubles from 1.5 down. There's a lot Tricam love at Seneca.

Rock Climbing Photo: tricam
tricam



Rock Climbing Photo: tricam2
tricam2
McHull
From SCPA
Joined Aug 29, 2012
250 points
Mar 12, 2016
I carry them, I love them, I place them more than anything else. But, I generally climb trad below 5.10, so I'll usually have stance for placing gear.

I like them because they double both cams & nuts, without weighing or costing as much as cams. I like them, because I'm far far FAR happier with a tri-cam in a wet, dirty, mossy, or slimy placement. For example, I was out climbing yesterday afternoon, which is very early season for Ottawa, Canada, and the rock was wet in places, and even where not wet, still humid and/or dirty from the winter ice and run-off. In the 3 routes I lead, I place no cams, a couple nuts, and the rest of the placements were all tri-cams. Several of them came back to me soaking wet after being cleaned.

I also do some first ascent stuff -- if I've just scraped the mud/moss/dirt out of a possible gear placement, I'm going to be a lot happier with a tri-cam in there than a cam.

Finally, the rock in my area does not lend itself to nice, parallel-sided cracks. So, I'm often needing to find "unusual" placements -- this is another place where tri-cams excel.

I have:

White, Black, Pink, Red, Brown, all x2; blue (2.0) x1; blue (2.5) x 2; dark blue (3.0) x 1; white, green. I also have doubles of the white & green that I don't usually rack.
David Gibbs
From Ottawa, ON
Joined Aug 18, 2010
10 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Acquisition of Knowledge
I can't speak to their utility on any route in the 5.10 or over range, but on moderates I find tricams extremely useful.

I've found secure placements for them where I couldn't fit a cam or a nut. I also like them for anchor building (hexes too), to avoid using up cams in the anchor. And on the rare occasion I've climbed a roof or bulge with a crack for pro, I like to use a tricam to back up a cam placement because once they're set, they don't walk.

If I were wanting to take a very light rack (maybe for an alpine traverse that was mostly scrambling), I take a set of tricams before anything else because they're so versatile.
Mathias
From Loveland, CO
Joined Jun 4, 2014
313 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogsti...
There does seem to be a love-hate relationship with them...

Before finger-size cams were available, Tricams were the only game in town for many horizontal placements, but the currently available cams have relegated Tricams to more of a specialty piece for placements that are either too shallow for a cam, in some kind of hole too small for a cam, or in various types of mild flares that are however too flared for cams. I still usually have a black, pink, and red on the back of my harness somewhere, but nowadays use them rarely.

Something that doesn't seem to be much appreciated is that Tricams make excellent nuts. When I carried a few more (up to brown or blue), I used them primarily as nuts rather than in their cammed orientation. Viewed that way, they are a nut with some highly effective if unusual additional placement options.

Pushing Tricams back to remove them doesn't always work; sometimes you have to try to hook a nut tool behind the "stinger" and then push the upper part of the Tricam back while pulling out on the stinger---the idea is to rotate the cam rather than moving it horizontally, which may not be possible. Obviously, this is a two-hand operation, and that is one of the drawbacks of Tricam use: the second may have to hang in order to get the damn thing out, and this is especially true once the Tricam has been fallen on.
rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Joined Feb 15, 2008
544 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: 2016
I've never placed one on lead but I carry the pink-bown sometimes blue, tri-cams for anchors so I can conserve my nuts/cams for the next pitch andrew thomas
From Eastsound, WA
Joined Jan 15, 2015
62 points
Mar 12, 2016
I've been meaning to ask:

Do tricams have a constant cam angle?

There seem to be opinions on both sides in this thread:

rockclimbing.com/forum/Climbin...

If the angle is increasing, would that mean that a less-cammed placement is less secure than an otherwise equivalent more-cammed placement?

This is somewhat counter-intuitive to me, because if anything it seems to me that they set more securely (in terms of "bite") when then are not completely cammed.
mbk
Joined Jul 3, 2013
0 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Another day at the city.
mbk wrote:
I've been meaning to ask: Do tricams have a constant cam angle? There seem to be opinions on both sides in this thread: rockclimbing.com/forum/Climbin... If the angle is increasing, would that mean that a less-cammed placement is less secure than an otherwise equivalent more-cammed placement? This is somewhat counter-intuitive to me, because if anything it seems to me that they set more securely (in terms of "bite") when then are not completely cammed.


This is something I have never given much thought but would like to know as well.
Bonneville
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Joined Dec 2, 2013
154 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing: Protection By Nate Fitch, Ron Funderburk...
Climbing: Protection
By Nate Fitch, Ron Funderburke


from good ole Mal of trango fame ...

Each tricam has a varying angle and it rotates through its range. Greg designed them this way for the soft sandstone flakes in Zion. The theory goes that as the cam rotates, the angle steepens, reducing the outward force so destructive to the soft sandstone flakes and, at the same time, increasing the rate of expansion. It's this increasing angle that makes tricams feel so secure in the small end of the range and tippy at large end.

----

The engineers are going to crucify me for this but here it is in plain language.

All cams and sliding nuts, and, in fact, anything that will hold in a parallel sided crack, somehow convert downward force into outward force. Outward force is what will dislodge blocks and pry off flakes.

A passive nut in a constriction in a crack also generates outward force but because of the huge amount of friction between the nut and the rock, that outward force is less that what a cam would produce.

Since one side of the Tricam must slide along the rock to generate the outward force, some of that energy is lost (I can feel the engineers wince at that one!), therefore a Tricam will generate less outward force than an active cam.

Flame on engineers!
Mal


rockclimbing.com/forum/Climbin...

;)
bearbreeder
Joined Mar 1, 2009
3,068 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Acquisition of Knowledge
I don't believe tricams have the same outward force as SLCDs. But not being an engineer I can't do the math so I don't KNOW that, and can't accurately explain why. It's just something I'm visualizing. The closest I can come to explaining is by using a system where the forces are reversed, and even that probably won't be clear. But I'll try.

If you have a rope running a straight line between two points, and you put a give weight in it's center, it exerts far more force to both ends of the rope than if you side that weight all the way to one side of the rope (adjacent to the anchor point). The weight represents the axle of either type of camming device.

Poor explanation, I know.
Mathias
From Loveland, CO
Joined Jun 4, 2014
313 points
Mar 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Profile
Great discussion, all!

We're a bit biased, but indeed, we love our Tricams. The new configuration (tapered in their "wide" orientation) gives the Trimcam EVOs three potential placements, rather than the two most of us learned on. We also added the .25---black---to offer another size just below the ever-popular pink (.5). Note, too, that the black .25 offers a strength rating of 5kN--pretty great for a smaller nut. It's as strong in its cammed position, too--5kN. (Check out our smallest size, too--the white .125. Rated at 2kN when camming, it's more of an aid piece, but at 9g, it's a great option for tiny, funky placements.)

We tend to see more of the pinks and reds stuck than any other size. The guides we work with report that unless their guests have been thoroughly schooled on cleaning them, the smaller sizes can get stuck--especially when the follower begins pushing the Tricam deeper into its placement in an effort to remove it. With less experienced folks, it's nice to have both hands available for cleaning them.

Eldo, Gunks, Dolomites, alpine, we end up finding tons of places for Tricams. They replace medium-large nuts on your rack, while offering another camming option for parallel-sided cracks at the same time. They're also great in icy, muddy, dirty cracks--and if you gotta bail, you'd rather leave a couple of these, rather than a couple cams.

So--here's a quick incentive to get somebody new to Tricams into a set. Post your best "wish I had a Tricam" pic in the next few days and we'll send you a set--black to brown--for your rack. Your pic could be of a rattly nut or a perfect horizontal--any time you wished you had a Tricam, but didn't. We'll give it a week to pick a winner.

Go!
CAMP USA
Joined Jun 12, 2009
50 points


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