South Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Mt Rose, Mammoth, Alta, Snowbird
I would suggest to start with a BD C4 purple #0.5 to blue #3 set + blue #0.3 and gray #0.4 X4s. And a set of nuts for sure.
There is no "better" small cam. Metolius TCU, Metolius Master, BD C3, BD X4, Aliens - they all are good. Some are better for Indian Creek splitters, some are better for Yosemite pin scars, some bite better, some last longer, etc. There is no "the best overall design". I would say that X4s, and Masters, and Aliens are a good start point but this is just my subjective opinion. Some climbers prefer C3s, other folks are stuck to Zeroes, etc.
When climbing long thin line it is important to have a variety of small protection. Sometimes TCU goes just fine and fits bomber in the spot no other small piece can protect. Sometimes it is a Master Offset, sometimes an Alien Offset, sometimes C3.
I like C3 in purple, green and red sizes. These 3 pieces often fit bomber where nothing else goes. Did not yet placed the gray and almost always prefer an X4, or Master or Master Offset in the "yellow C3" size.
Do not really like the mess with X4's color scheme but it's OK - it took only two days for me to figure out how to mix and rack C3 and X4.
Good solid protection for small irregular cracks.
A perfect BD and DMM Dragon cams racking binner. The perfect color match, lightweight, no bulk, easy to operate, no snagging, feels bomber.
The only issue is a lack of orange color which means not so perfect match with Metolius cams.
I got a pair of Stonelands Slippers for the gym. After a while I found myself using them for everything from narrow cracks to face climbs and from gym or random cragging to long multi-pitch routes.
Stonelands Slipper vs Anasazi VCS quick comparison. Those owning Anasazi-VCS-shaped-feet will find them to be of almost the same size and shape. They are a bit more stiff and precise then Anasazi VCS, a bit less sensitive and feel a bit less secure when heel hooking.
They are good comfy all-around shoes (if your feet are of "Anasazi shape").
I used #0.75 green and #0.4 gray, and #0.3 blue. Blue and gray are perfect (at least while new). The green was good-enough. I mean it was really good, stable and easy to operate. But not perfect - a bit on a soft side. With aging it probably could ("probably could" is far-far away from "definitely will") become dirty and begin to "taco". Thus I decided to keep both C4 and X4 in a green 0.75 size - I will use C4 as an universal green size piece and reach for X4 when I need a narrow head in this size (not too often).
For blue 0.3 and gray 0.4 sizes X4s are hard to beat.
- If you are building a rack it is probably better to get X4s up to gray 0.4 and C4x purple 0.5 and up.
- If you are extending your existing rack go for X4s in all sizes.
Just a right size, great weight and profile. Feels bomber (as always when using Metolius hardware).
And sooooooo slow screwlock action. It takes forever to lock or unlock it.
It is good when you need a bit of extra safety (e.g., when you want to KNOW that your locker will not open by an accident by moving back and forth along some grainy rock).
I would prefer CAMP Photon screw locks to this for most applications.
It is a good aid piece for narrow placements.
A bit hard to retrieve especially after high stepping on it but that's an adequate price for the job.
Fits my old bulky 70m lead cord + whole trad rack (doubles up to blue C4 + 1 ea #4 and #5, plus nuts, binners and slings) + shoes and harness and chalk + water and snaks for a day + guidebook. And there is still a bit of space for extra luxiry items (e.g., a beer can or two).
One don't need a rope tarp with this bag - it serves as a perfect rope buckle. Just pack a lead line ready to go to the bottom of your pack (do not forget to tie a huge knot on the "upper" end of the rope).
It can stand by itself and it really makes difference. Very easy to pack and unpack.
The Blue/Green, 60m is $189.95, the Blue/Green, 70m is $189.95, the Sprout/Red, 60m is $220.00, the Sprout/Red, 70m is $220.00. It's an obvious mistake - both 60m should be $189.95 and both 70m should be $220.
Anyway, it's a cool option to get a 70m double dry skinny lead rope for $190 + tax + free shipping!
It is simple, compact and versatile device.
I use it as the high (chest) piece when TR soloing, indoors, outdoors cragging, multipitch climbing, as a backup device when jugging, etc.
I prefer Cinch to Grigri 2 by the following reasons:
1. Ropes glides better thru Cinch. When you belay your second off an anchor again and again this really makes difference.
2. It is more versatile (you can use it unmodified as a jug backup, as a top piece for solo TR, etc).
3. It is less bulk (more compact, takes less space on my harness).
4. It can be put on and taken off of a weighted rope. Trick you can never do with figure 8, ATC or Grigri.
I prefer Grigri 2 to Cinch by the following reasons:
1. Grigri is intuitive, Cinch is counterintuitive. One takes a Grigri and in five minutes is able to give a belay. One takes a Cinch and in five minutes is ready to drop you to the ground after shortroping you badly on every clip.
2. Virtually everybody knows how to belay with Grigri.
Thus for cragging with semi-random people I prefer Grigri 2, for all other applications (especially multi-pitch and aid) I prefer Cinch. Also prefer Cinch indoors because it is more smooth.
Warning! One MUST watch an instructional video (on Trange web site) before an extensive training on this device usage. It is smooth when and ONLY when used properly.
It's ultralight and compact.
1. Paints ropes badly.
2. Has too big screw nut made from too soft aluminium. Try to not to allow rock/nut contact.
3. High friction when used as a rope-end anchor binner.
I have 4 of these on my harness to build anchors on bolted routes and for "just a case" usage - it's always good to have 2 extra lockers.
Personally I think the Quicklock DMM Big Boa is the best rappel binner on the market. It is very roomy and fits a lot of ropes. It is easy to open and close with both left or right hand.
Locksafe is a little bit awkward and hard to operate with one hand.
If you are ready to invest $20 in rappel/belay locker just get DMM Big Boa Quicklock.
BTW, Black Diamond Rocklock is a close competitor with much better price tag. If you are on a budget or if you already have Rocklock you do not really need this binner.
upd Jun 5th, 2013. After couple months of intensive usage my Boa got really grooved. Much worse then my BD Rocklock in several years. Thus I decrease rating from 4 stars to 2 stars. Probably 1 start would be more adequate for this metal quality.
I use Micro Traxion (lower piece) + Trango Cinch on a chest harness as my TR solo setup. Light and easy to setup, glides well, easy to take out before rappelling (do not overweight the rope, full quart water bottle is enough).
They can climb up to easy 5.11 (face/friction/wide cracks, do not even try to climb ringlocks/fingers in them).
They can survive many long approaches and hard descends.
They are way better any climbing shoes (including the most stiff) for doing stuff like Generator Crack.
They are comfortable when aid.
They are probably the most versatile shoes for rock climbing. Typically I grab them and supermocs for narrow cracks.
The only drawback is heel fixation. Not a World Class Problem, but could be better.
It's a bomber pro for irregular cracks. In Yosemite and South Lake Tahoe area the 4 small pieces (gray/purple to yellow/orange) almost always fit better then regular (non-offset) cams.
The two biggest pieces are not so useful - heavy lobes and soft stem makes them hard to place as they wear a little bit.
If you climb in Yosemite or South Lake Tahoe area you want to have 4 smallest offset cams for sure. A good alternative is Fixe offset aliens.
12cm DMM Shield QD is a great quickdraw - light, smooth, easy to grab and handle. Binners are top quality (as expected when you buy DMM gear).
18cm is so-so. Dogbone twists, bolt end binner twists.
If you are not on budget grab 8 or so 12cm DMM Shield QDs and 8 or so 18cm Petzl Spirit. 8 12cm DMM Shields will serve as short sport draws and trad draws, 8 Spirits will serve when pushing up on your next extra hard sport project. Thus you will have a universal "do it all" set of quickdraws.
I use 12cm and 18cm 14mm width BD Dogbones to make a custom quickdraw set.
These dogbones are light, comfortable and feel bomber. The bolt-end loop is wide enough so there's no need to unclip the bolt-end binner to link two or more draws.
The only drawback is that rubber insert on the rope end can be easily damaged. Not a World-class problem, but I would prefer Metolius JIG like design.
Yes, they really do not pop out. For the well known price - sometimes it's next to impossible to clean them out.
I feel myself as Buridan's ass:
1. It's cool and safe that they do not pop out.
2. But it's hard to clean them and they're soooo pricey.
3. But safety more important.
4. But it's unethical to leave something on a route (ref. "leave no trace").
A comfortable well sized strong and durable binner. Probably it can survive an atomic bomb blast.
Seems it paints ropes less then other modern hot forged binners.
Not as light as BD Oz or DMM Phantom and has a snagging nose. Thus only 4 stars.
At just $7.50 it's a bargain.
It's a comfortable wire gate binner. I like its smooth action and overall feeling.
The only flaw has been found after two seasons of intensive use is that it wears off too fast. Ropes groove MadRock Ultralight much faster then BD Oz or Metolius Inferno. Thus probably it's not as bargain as it seems at the first glance.
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