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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Umbilicals...something to think about and it aint good.

Photo courtey of http://colinhaley.blogspot.com/


Like may of us I suspect, I have thought that factory umbilical attachments were best done in a steel or aluminum "loop" that could be directly clipped with your umbilical biner of choice.   Having climbed a bunch on Cobras, the newest Fusions, new Ergos and Nomics (old and new) and the original Quark I am rethinking that idea.

photo courtesy of http://colinhaley.blogspot.com/

I really rely on my umbilicals.  As much as they are a moving belay for me I also have come to rely on them to retain my tools while climbing leashless.  On the occasions I do climb without umbilicals I am very careful to watch where my tools are all the time and that they are securely placed.   And I don't worry about my partners kicking or bumping them off the climb.  May be I should be more concerned all the time..



I've notice that those that don't choose to use umbilicals aren't always very careful on where they leave their own tools.  To the point of a couple of winters ago we picked up several sets of tools left behind simply because the climbers who owned the tool forgot them at a rap station or even just left them on the ground at the base of a climb. (hard to blame that on umbilicals I guess :)  Or just as bad, set them somewhere they could easily be knocked off (by the owner, their partner or rock and ice fall) at a belay station.



But the issue that just became readily apparent to me is clipping carabiners to a metal umbilical attachment points has a huge disadvantage.  That is, the wire gate biners tripping themselves open and dropping the tools in use.  You can't just ignore where the tool is and what is happening when it is a metal to metal contact between umbilical and tool.  None of the carabiner based umbilicals have any advantage here..."no matter how strong the the biner gate is" as one manufacturer's rep told me.



Rope tie on points won't solve the entire issue.  But they will help make the umbilical biners less likely to pop off the tool.  Tonight, as good as the BD tool design work is, I added perlon loops to both my Fusions and Cobras all the while negating the full strength metal attachment points on both tools.  The reason?  I'd rather have a less than full strength umbilical attachment point than loose a tool because the umbilical biner ever so easily snapped off the tool by accident.


photo courtesy of  http://www.alpineexposures.com/pages/chamonix-conditions


Pays to always think and rethink your own systems.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why dont you use http://www.grivel.com/products/ice/accessories/41-double_spring if you are afraid that the wiregates will unclip?

Dane said...

Simple...ignoring the size issue. Screw gates freeze up. Then you can't easily move the umbilical attachment point or remove it as required.

Anonymous said...

Why did you paint your tools gray?
I'm color blind, if I dropped them it would be the end of em, I'd never find them in the snow.

Louis-Alexis

Anonymous said...

First two times I used BD umbilicals (with Cobras), the karabiner unclipped on three occations. All while downclimbing. Not suprising if you play around a bit pulling upwards on the umbie clipped to the spike.
I will tie on some 4mm cord, will eliminate the rattle too.

/Magnus

Reggie said...

good stuff to think about Dane. I was using BD spinner leashes on my old-gen cobras this december when one of the gates hyperextended past the nose and unclipped. I fixed it and re-clipped it, and it happened again. I don't know how it broke, but some torquing of the gate probably occured. loops of cord are a good fix.

Dane said...

Gray? I suspect you are looking at Jack's Nomics in the blog. They have been wrapped with black and white foam bicycle handle bar tape on the tool shaft. And Jack NEVER drops his tools so no worries.

Anonymous said...

Dane, check out the last picture of your thread. The one with the fusion and nomic next to each other on the carpet, they look gray.
Louis-Alexis

Dane said...

Louis-Alexis

Just the bad lighting. My Fusions are BRIGHT green :) Just the rubber handles showing is all.

Although I was climbing on borrowed chrome Fusions last weekend...hard to miss those in the snow!

Daniel Harro said...

I use the BD spinner with the new Quark and I have not had any issues, about 6 days total use. I think it is due partly to shape of the spike that Petzl uses. I did use them on the fusions and has some issues.

morgan said...

I've got a homebrew setup using the metolius FS mini's as my attachment point...haven't really been worried about a magical unclipping, but tonight i'm going to check how easy it is. those 'biners are *pretty* small though so i wouldnt be surprised that they'd be harder to unclip than others...

Stephen said...

I've had no problems with the solid gate 750kg accessory biners on the grivel. Go solid gate and you will drastically reduce the chance of unclipping. I, and many of my friends will never rack wires (nuts) on wiregate biners because they freqently unclip themselves, the same rarely happens on solid straight gate biners.