Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Introduction to Carabiners and Uses

There are a lot of different types of carabiners out there. In this particular post we'll look at some basic elements of carabiners. Each of the following videos discusses different aspects that you should be aware of when looking at carabiners:

Carabiner Basics:

The following video defines the parts of the carabiner and hits on some baseline knowledge that you should have.

Most climbers will need an array of lockers and non-lockers. For entry level toproping or baseline mountaineering, you should probably start your rack with four lockers and six non-lockers. You'll be able to do quite a lot with that.

Offset D Carabiners:

This particular video looks at two offset-D carabiners. These carabiners are designed with a large basket and a small neck to ensure that slings and draws stay where they belong when in use.

The brand shown the video, the Camp Photon, is promoted as a particularly light carabiner. This is an important consideration as you build your rack. Ounces equal pounds, and when you're only carrying a few carabiners, it may not feel like it's adding up. But once you have a full rack things might be different.

Separately, gate flutter is mentioned in the video for solid gate carabiners. In the video, the demonstration is done with a locker. This isn't realistic. The problem with gate flutter isn't with lockers, it's with non-lockers with solid gates.

How big a problem is gate flutter? Is it worth the extra money?

It can certainly be an issue. But there are very few obvious accidents that have come from this.

On the other hand, there have been a lot of accidents from nose-clipping. This is where you accidentally clip the nose of the carabiner on a hanger and then fall. Carabiners do break under those circumstances.

Innovative Locking Carabiners:

Innovative locking carabiners are a bit more expensive, but they have their place. Here are a couple videos about them.

The downside to the Magnetron carabiner model is that sometimes dirt can get inside the magnets, which causes them not to lock super easily. But this is rare.

The Gridlock was designed to ensure that the belay loop is in the neck and that the carabiner is not crossloaded. But climbers should be aware of another potential problem with this carabiner:

In the photo, the arrow points to a tab that must be above the belay loop when operating. The belay loop should be in the neck below the tab. If the belay loop is above the tab, and you're belaying, and the climber falls, this tab can break. The broken tab is often razor sharp.

This is an uncommon issue, but users should be aware of this potential problem.

Tri-lock carabiners are nice because they are considered an equivalent of two locking carabiners. These can be used in critical points -- like in a toprope master point, or holding a portaledge -- where you cannot have failure and you need security beyond a single locking carabiner.

So do you need an innovative carabiner, or several? Maybe. Each of these provides something. Some are faster, and others provide more security. And while you might want one or two innovative carabiners, your rack should be dominated by workhorse screwgate lockers and non-lockers.

There are a lot of different types of carabiners out there, many more than what's been described here. As you develop as a climber, you should try different types of carabiners and see what works best for you and what you're doing.

Finally, many climbers use the word "biner" for carabiner. This is a pejorative word for certain populations and probably shouldn't be used. If the word carabiner seems too long to say all the time, then you might use "snap-link" or the British word for carabiner, "krab."

--Jason D. Martin

No comments: