Tuesday, January 4, 2011

UIAA Gear Testing Videos

Some time ago, we posted a video of a carabiner strength test. The video was very popular and we got to see a press destroy a carabiner! Videos of gear breaking are always engaging. As a result, today we have posted a few more climbing gear testing videos from the UIAA. These are both terrifying and a lot of fun all at the same time!

--Jason D. Martin


Douglas Lee said...

I just came across this web site, and I just watched the first video; breaking biners, hangers, and harnesses. The videos are very good. I have two suggestions for whoever is creating them. The first would be to add a VERY slow motion version if possible. The other is to add a note about the pounds of force that each piece failed at. It was very interesting to see that the first thing that happened with each biner, even the screw lock types, was that that gate blew open.

I used to work in an R+D Engineering lab (Scimed Life Systems, now part of Boston Scientific). One of the dozens tasks of designing, prototyping, fabricating, and testing product was doing destructive testing on materials. We used a machine called an Instron. I'm sure there are many companies that make similar testing equipment, possibly MTS (Minneapolis Minnesota) or Hurst. I don't really know. But the primary use of all of these force testing machines is to watch the Force Meter as the item under test deforms. And it is not necessarily linear. We sometimes had data recorders attached to the Instron, which plotted a curve of the force as it was increasing. Having a view of the Force Readout while watching the piece deform would be extremely useful (and very comforting, I think) to any climber who watches it. I am personally very comfortable with the quality of the biners I buy (and any other hardware). I still have trouble putting the fate of my life on an 11 millimeter rope, but hopefully I'll get fully comfortable with that eventually. When I used to climb, it was usually the human at the other end of the rope that I worried about, more than any piece of equipment.

I started climbing in about 1974, and I quit around 1980 or so. I'm now 53 (whoops, 54 in two days), and I'm just starting to try to climb again. Not even sure if I can do it. I have a lot of structural and back problems. But we'll see.

But over the last year I've been buying all new gear (I gave away everything I had when I quit climbing). When I went to the stores, I was AWESTRUCK by the quality, the design and engineering, and just the sheer beauty of the hardware that is on the shelf now. For all you young people who are climbing (young being anybody under about 35, from my perch), you don't know how lucky you are to have what is available. All we had back in the day were oval biners and 1" webbing and CMI figure 8's-for belaying and rappelling. And sometimes we had to use the 6 crossed biner method for a belay or rappel. I bought a few magazines last year and was mesmerized by all the equipment. Ascenders? Descenders? Belaying devices? Triple action locking biners? Back in the day we thought that having one screw lock biner was big time. And of course all the screw barrels wore out almost immediately.

I never even had chalk, couldn't afford it (we were POOR).

I'm sitting here looking at my very limited rack, and there are 4 pieces that could be on display in a museum. The utter simplicity and beauty of the Omega Pacific bailout ring (20 Kilo's!). The triple action gate Petzl biner (28 kilos - more than 6 thousand pounds !!!). The mammoth size of a huge Omega biner. And at the moment I can't find it, so I don't know what brand it is, but I've got a huge steel biner that's rated at something like 53 Kilo's !! That's nearly twelve thousand pounds, folks. :)

So anyway, just wanted to share my thoughts on the video, and I got carried away gabbing about all this incredible gear that is around. I now have GEAR LUST, for which there will never be enough money to satisfy.

For me, rigging the gear, playing with it, and trying to figure the best vector physics for a redundant anchor was half the fun of climbing.

Best Wishes, and Everybody Be Careful out there.

January 7-2011

American Alpine Institute said...


Thank-you for the thoughtful comments. We didn't actually make the gear testing videos, but simply found them on the web. However, I will forward your comments to the UIAA who did make the videos.

And of course, we are very happy to hear that you are getting back into climbing!

If you're ever looking for a course that explores all the changes in equipment and gear and demonstrates modern climbing technique, please give us a call.

Thanks again for your comments!