Monday, August 13, 2007

AAI presents Black Diamond with 2007 Guides Choice Award

Photo: BD receiving AAI’s Guides Choice Award, from the left: Kevin Newell (AAI Guides Choice Test Director); Bill Belcourt (BD Climbing Hardware Category Manager and principle design engineer for the C-3); Peter Metcalf (BD CEO); Dunham Gooding (AAI President); and David Mellon (BD Vice President for R&D and Product Category Management).

Black Diamond was one of five companies that received AAI’s Guides Choice Award for outstanding gear for 2007. The award was for the C-3 Camalot, and it was presented at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show in Salt Lake City on August 8th. Approximately thirty-thousand industry professionals attend the OR Summer Market to show and view new products, to set up new accounts, to take or make orders of gear for retailing during following spring and summer seasons, and to launch new products and brands.

The announcement of the annual Guides Choice awards are eagerly awaited by the industry and climbing community. Manufacturers value the award because it brings more public attention to the product as well as more industry press, with writers always eager to spotlight particularly innovative gear. Climbers and mountaineers appreciate feedback and nominations to aid their personal selection of and hunt for the best gear on the market.

During the award ceremony, AAI President Dunham Gooding noted that the guides who tested the C-3’s were particularly impressed by the low profile and narrow head width of the unit: “It’s almost 30% narrower than other micro cams and fits in places where other cams won’t go or are more difficult to place.” He also said, “The guides doing the testing were impressed by the C3's ability to keep a maximum amount of cam surface area in contact with the rock. They also appreciated the stems’ length and stiffness for precise placement. And while it’s stiff laterally, it is very flexible over its flatter dimension, nicely accommodating bends over sharp edges.”

Some of the testing was done in weather that was cold enough for the AAI guides who tested the cams to need gloves. Test Manager Kevin Newell said, “It was unanimous that the big thumb loop and easy grip action makes the C3s easy to use with gloves on; besides being the standard for warm weather rock climbers, C3's continue to be the most functional cam for alpinism in mixed conditions. They are lighter, have a wider expansion range (making them more versatile) and are less prone to freezing in cold and wet conditions than any other cam on the market."

AAI tests gear throughout the year by putting it through demanding paces in some of the six states and sixteen countries where it operates. In the case of the C-3s, they were tested in the rock climbing areas of Squamish, BC, Leavenworth, WA, and Red Rock, Nevada, and on alpine routes in the Cascades and Sierra.

Thirty-one companies currently hold Guides Choice awards for fifty-six products, with Black Diamond and Petzl setting the record for recognition with seven awards each. BD’s other awards have been for their Camalot C4s, Express Ice Screw, Guide Glove, Dry Tool Glove, ATC Guide, and their Alpha Ice Boot.

AAI's Guides Choice website has more information on the testing program, including all current Guides Choice winners.

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