For decades British trad crags have maintained some of the world’s strictest climbing ethics. We refrain from using fixed gear to keep the spirit of adventure and avoid altering the natural beauty of the landscapes that play host to our climbing exploits. The Offwidth feels that now is the time to talk about the one form of fixed gear that has so far slipped under the radar. Tri Cams.
The Offwidth secured an interview with one disgruntled second Tom Hayes to discuss the issues around tri cam use. “It’s not on is it?” says Tom. “It’s all fine for the leader who places the tri cam, but has she thought about her poor second who has to get the bloody thing out? No of course she hasn’t.”
“A bolt will rust in a couple of decades and the hole it leaves will have eroded in a few million years. You call that fixed gear? That’s nothing compared to how long I’ve spent trying to remove tri cams from limestone pockets.”
“I don’t see what all the fuss is.” says Tom’s leader and tri cam fan Sarah Green. “You just give them a prod, then a quick flick and out they come.”
We read this quote to Tom who promptly turned a funny shade or red and started frothing at the mouth. “A prod and a flick?! That’s just a myth leaders like to repeat to ease their guilty conscience, don’t listen to a word of it. Us seconds know the truth. The only way to remove a tri cam is to howl and swear at it whilst stabbing at it with a nice sharp nut key. Eventually your bloody knuckles and tears of frustration will work up enough lubrication to slide the bastard out sideways.”
It’s not just seconds who are at risk from tri cams. Research from The Offwidth Institute suggests that as many as 78% of leaders who use tri cams have formed an unhealthy attachment to one or more tri cam. This figure rises to a staggering 98% when ‘users’ are asked to choose a favourite between their ‘Pink 0.5’ and their spouse.
We showed Tom these figures and asked if it’s something he’s noticed. “Oh yes definitely” he replied. “Only last weekend I picked up Sarah’s 0.5 without asking and she hissed at me and screamed “My Precious” with a fiery look in her eyes.”
“There’s nothing unusual about how often I place tri cams” maintains Sarah. “I can stop whenever I want…”
The Offwidth recommends that tri cams are phased out of use with immediate effect. We also call on the BMC to provide support for traumatised seconds and heavy tri cam users.
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