• Will Dog Urine Harm My Rope?
  • What's the Point of Spotting Highball Boulder Problems?
  • Closet Car: Is it Safe to Store Climbing Gear in Your Vehicle?
  • Can a Belay Device Jam Open?
  • Marking the Middle of a Rope
  • Fitting Rock Shoes to Problematic Feet
  • Defining the Cheater Stick and Stick Clip
  • When Your Partner Steals Your Gear...
  • Can You Climb on a Wet Rope?
  • Can You Decrease Fall Factor?
  • Should You Be Allowed to Practice Lead Falls in the Gym?
  • Rope Certifications: Twins, Doubles, or Both?
  • Are Cam Placements Compromised in Wet Rock?
  • What's the Correct Way to Girth Hitch to Your Harness?
  • Choosing Ice Screw Length
  • The Holding Power of Nuts
  • Should You Clip the Belay As Your First Lead Pro?
  • Should I Worry About Spinning Bolt Hangers?
  • Belay-Loop Myth
  • Rock Cleaning Made Easy
  • More, on the EDK
  • Why Not Clip Directly to Cam-Stem Loops?
  • Can You Recommend A Self-Release Knot?
  • What's The Protocol For Naming a Route After Yourself?
  • Is Dropped Gear Still Safe?
  • Can Ropes and Slings Be Contaminated By Essential Oils?
  • Is It Okay to Wear Socks with Rock Climbing Shoes?
  • How Should You Test Gear Placements?
  • Can You Use Adhesive Tape on Ropes, Cords, Webbing?
  • A Better EDK?
  • What's the Difference Between a Double and a Single Rope?
  • Does It Count As a Free Ascent If You Grab the Anchor?
  • Can You Use Cams As Passive Pro?
  • I Found a Rope - Is it Safe to Use?
  • Am I Using a Daisy Chain Wrong?
  • Should I Buy a Plastic or Foam Helmet?
  • Why Doesn't Anyone Climb in Knickers Anymore?
  • Is Weight or Range More Important in Cams?
  • The Mysterious Phenomenon of Rope Shrinkage
  • Worst-Case Scenario - A Factor 2 Fall
  • The Trouble With Glue-In Bolts
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Nuts and Bolts
  • Why Are Climbing Shoes So Expensive?
  • Flaws in the Yosemite Decimal System
  • How Durable is Trad Gear?
  • Using Super Glue on Your Fingers
  • The Worst Gear Ever Invented
  • Rap Ring Strength
  • Spinners and Losers
  • Why Do People Use Oval Biners?
  • Is it Ethical to Clean a New Route?
  • Aid Climbing = Moped Riding
  • Cam Care and Maintenance Guide
  • Will Sweat Harm My Harness?
  • Should You Use Rope or Webbing to Connect to an Anchor?
  • Choosing Between C4s and Friends
  • Can You Lead On a Static Rope?
  • Can I Use Climbing Bolts For Anchors in a Gym?
  • Are My Modified Crampons Safe?
  • Are Falls Held or Breaking Strength More Important In a Rope?
  • Does Poop Harm a Climbing Rope?
  • Are Homemade Draws Reliable?
  • Shopping for Economy Carabiners
  • When You Fly, Can You Carry On Climbing Gear?
  • Can I Trust Fixed Draws?
  • Which Helmet WIll Fit My Big Head?
  • Are Adjustable Leg Loops Useful?
  • Should I clip Ice Screws with Screamers?
  • How do I Make a Bomber Anchor?
  • Can I Modify my Crampon Without Compromising the Integrity?
  • How to Place Ice Tools and Crampons - Will Gadd's Tips
  • How to Place Ice Screws - Will Gadd's Tips
  • Hot Versus Cold Forging
  • Caring For Your Fingertips
  • Are Sewn Slings Stronger Than Knotted Ones?
  • When to Replace Climbing Webbing
  • Using Grip Dip To Color Code Gear
  • The Benefits of Cotton
  • How to Pull a Rappel Rope
  • How to Properly Orient a Carabiner Gate
  • Are My Fuzzy Quickdraws Safe?
  • How to Stretch Climbing Shoes
  • Are 1/2-inch bolts really better than 3/8-inch?
  • Should I Resole My Rock Shoes?
  • How to Hand Drill
  • Lonely Climber Looking for Woman
  • Is My Invented Knot Safe?
  • Difference Between Double and Twin Ropes
  • Dealing With an Argumentative Partner
  • Will Antifreeze Ruin Rope?
  • Why Is a Rack Called a Rack?
  • Rock Shoes For a Big Guy
  • Do They Kill Geese To Get Down?
  • How to Wash a Rope
  • Do Cam Teeth Do Anything?
  • Can I Fix Delaminated Rock Shoes?
  • Can I Mix a Static With a Dynamic Rope for Rappelling?
  • Should You Lower Or Rap Through Anchors?
  • How Should The Middle Man Tie In?
  • How Do I Get a Good Climbing Man?
  • Do Falls Weaken Bolts?
  • Should I Rope Solo?
  • Should I Angle Ice Screws Down?
  • How Should Old Climbers Train?
  • Can I Make a Belay Loop?
  • Reusing Ice Screw Holes
  • Overcoming the Fear of Falling
  • Choosing a Stove Fuel
  • Will My Hiking Boots Work With Crampons?
  • Do Heavy People Shock Load the Rope?
  • Can Offset Cams Subsitute for Regular Cams?
  • Can I Resling My Cams Myself?
  • Are Older Alien Cams Safe?
  • Will sports drinks freeze more slowly than water?
  • The Truth About Climbing Supplements
  • Can I Make My Leashed Tools, Leashless?
  • Rope Stretch Facts
  • How To Cut a Rope Without a Knife
  • Secrets of the Toprope
  • How to Sharpen Crampons
  • Should I Become a Climbing Guide?
  • Preventing Climbing Rope Wear
  • How to Remove an Old Bolt
  • How to Customize Ice Tool Picks
  • Double Rope Facts
  • Do It Yourself Fruit Boots
  • Climbing Rope Sheath Slippage
  • Rockfall Safety
  • Do Screamers Work?
  • Climbing Skin Care
  • Selecting a Gym Rope
  • Quick Links for Climbing
  • Are Russian Cams Good?
  • When To Retire Climbing Gear and Ropes
  • Should I Get a Link Cam?
  • How to Get a Climbing Mate
  • Using Steel Carabiners for Fixed Quickdraws
  • Petzl Tibloc and Climbing Rope Sheath Damage
  • Overcoming Anger
  • Fixing a Spinning Bolt
  • Video Spotlight
    Joe Kinder On the First Ascent of Bone Tomahawk (5.14d/5.15a)
    Joe Kinder On the First Ascent of Bone Tomahawk (5.14d/5.15a)
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    Weekend Whipper: Chris Sharma's 100-foot Pont d’Arc Deep Water Solo

    The Worst Gear Ever Invented


    Since you are Gear Guy, I imagine that you use a lot of gear, and if you don’t, ignore my question because you are a big faker. If you are real, then what is the worst piece of gear you have ever used?

    —L.T. via rockandice.com

    Cams of the past that never caught on: The Titon and the Buddy.In the interest of transparency, I’ll say that I am not sponsored, and never have been sponsored, but that some gear is sent to me for free, and other gear I purchase. I like most of the gear I use and have used, and almost all of it is great compared to even state-of-the-art equipment of just a decade ago. Shoe rubber is better. Ropes are lighter, helmets are no longer big eggshells, carabiners are easier to clip and weigh less. You get the picture. I can’t really single out one bit of gear for being the worst, because there have been so many flops, but I have narrowed it to five:

    1. Stubai Marwa

    This was also known as the “coat hanger” ice screw, because it was seemingly fashioned from a twisted coat hanger. The Marwa came in lengths from four to nine inches, and you screwed it into the ice. I used these in the late 1970s and they were so difficult to place and so flimsy that if you attempted to place one, you yourself were screwed. The Marwa was good for two things. In the days before modern ice tools and crampons, you could aid up vertical ice with it—if its bending action didn't frighten you tooooo much. And, the Marwa was so horrendous it spawned attempts to improve it, giving us today’s awesome tube screws.

    2. Forrest Mountaineering Titons

    These were bits of aluminum T-stock with the sides tapered so you could place them (or try to) like large Stoppers or hexes, and had and I imagine still have die-hard supporters. Supposedly, you could cam Titons, but they only ever rattled down the rope whenever I tried that. As large passive nuts they were OK and similar to the Chouinard Tube Chock, though heavier. I actually bought a full set of Titons and carried them for several years before figuring out that they didn’t really work. To be fair to Bill Forrest, the rest of his gear was revolutionary to borderline so. My first sewn harness and first aluminum-shafted ice tool were Forrest, and he was the first in the climbing world to dispense with riveting and use glue to attach the tool head to the shaft, on his Mjollnir ice tool and Wall Hammer, and to produce a tool with replaceable picks.

    3. Canadian Quest Technology Buddy

    I got one of these in Yosemite, out of the back of a car for $10 sometime around 1982. Worst 10 bucks I ever spent. Well, I take that back because I like having this rare and useless artifact in the Gear Guy Climbing Museum.

    The Buddy was an attempt to best the Friend, which was still patent protected at the time, by having a long solid cam on either side of the stem, instead of two much thinner cam lobes that could move independently and adapt to the shape of the placement. On paper that might seem like a bright idea, but in the field the Buddy never fit anywhere except for perfectly parallelsided cracks, and you are more likely to stumble across a pink diamond than one of those. Like the Marwa, the Buddy did at least get people thinking about other ways to improve the camming device, leading to TCUs, flexible stems, double axles and micro and macro units.

    4. One Sport Resin Rose

    Yikes. Besides being pink and blue, this rock shoe had a tin midsole for support. You heard that right: “TIN.” This midsole might have been hacked out of a beer can, but it did let the shoe edge better than the Fire, the leader of the time. Problem was, the sharp piece of tin cut its way through the shoe like a festering thorn, eventually emerging at the seam between the sole and rand. I’ll guess that almost every pair ever sold was returned: I know that nearly everyone who bought a pair from me (I had a small mail-order business way back then) got their money back … if you didn’t, sorry, the warranty has expired!

    5. Coyote Mountain Works Sampson

    I didn’t have or use these plastic camming units from the late 1980s because they were yanked from the market before I could buy one. I wanted one because a composite cam seemed to have advantages over a metal unit. The Sampson was lighter, primarily. Unfortunately, the cam couldn’t handle a torquing load and shattered like carnival glass. Still, the idea of using composites in protection was revolutionary, and I suspect that we haven’t seen the last of its likes. Gear Guy has spoken!


    This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 230 (November 2015).


    GOT A QUESTION? E-mail Gear Guy! rockandicegearguy@gmail.com

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