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Gear Review - Metolius Master cams
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By John McNamee
Administrator
From Littleton, CO
Apr 7, 2008
Artist Tears P3

This is a cross post to rc.com. There's a nice review on the master cams.

www.rockclimbing.com/Articles/Gear_and_Reviews/Metolius_Mast>>>

Thanks John for testing them for us!


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By Chris Owen
Administrator
From La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Feb 13, 2009
There's more than one use for an Ice Hammer. Lake District (UK) late '70s

Thanks for all of the reviews guys - reviewing protection equipment is a curious process which generally fails to address the main issue - will they protect you? It's kinda like doing a road test of a car and doing everything except actually driving it.

I'd like see a comparative lab destructive pull test one equivalent size from all of the cams maufacturers available randomly purchased from multiple outlets. They would all have the same mounting interface.

Any thoughts one which one would fail first and which one would fail last? Some might slip. Different parts of different cams might fail first. I think it would be a very telling test.


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Feb 13, 2009

Chris Owen wrote:
...reviewing protection equipment is a curious process which generally fails to address the main issue - will they protect you?.... I think it would be a very telling test.


I think it would be a useless test. With the exception of the odd Alien, holding power and ultimate strength is never the issue in practice. They all hold or bodies would be stacking up like cordwood at the base of popular crags. The issues are "does it fit", which is a function of design attributes like head width, stem and trigger design, "is it durable for repeated abuse/hard use", "feel", and to some degree "range". Which are typically the things reviewers address.

The "will they protect you" is much more a function of whether you can actually place the thing in a given spot rather than weather is breaks at 10kn or 17kn.


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By Aric Datesman
Feb 13, 2009

I've been slowly working my way through whatever retired/bootied gear people send me over on RC, but if someone wants to donate samples for this I'll gladly do the testing all at once (drop or slow pull- your choice).

Will has a point though- the gear is more than strong enough for how its used and is rarely the cause of failure of the system; improper placement or abuse is the most likely cause.

That said, looking at failure modes is quite interesting and most likely worth looking into in a comparative sort of way. Some failure modes I have no problem with... For example on a Pre-C4 Camalot the sling is the weak point and will break before the hardware itself, judging from the testing I've done on them.

Other failure modes are not as nice... The pair of U-stem Camalots I tested failed by way of the axles bending, which lead to them tipping out and slipping from the fixture (below their ratings, I might add).

But in both cases it was above 10kN so most likely "strong enough". Still, you won't see me climbing with U-stem Camalots anytime soon. I'm just not comfortable with that failure mode.

-aric.


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By Evan1984
Feb 15, 2009

As an anecdotal story, I was not pleased with the durability of the mastercam trigger cables.

I placed my friend's near new blue master into a shallow vertical seam. Because it was shallow, I placed it nearly straight in( a narower unit like c3 could have been placed more in the direction of pull, but that's another post and what the flex stem is for). I body weighted it on aid, and, upon cleaning, found that the cables had tweaked to the point that the lobes no longer had proper action, and the unit was useless.

Long story short, at crag and home repair attempts failed. I felt like a sod for ruining my buddies cam. Metolius had him send it in and said they'd replace it. This was recent, so time will see if they come through, but at the moment, he is one piece short on his rack.

Evan


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By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From Bend, OR
Feb 15, 2009
Racked and loaded... name that splitter behind me? Hint, its on Supercrack Buttress

Evan1984 wrote:
As an anecdotal story, I was not pleased with the durability of the mastercam trigger cables. I placed my friend's near new blue master into a shallow vertical seam. Because it was shallow, I placed it nearly straight in( a narower unit like c3 could have been placed more in the direction of pull, but that's another post and what the flex stem is for). I body weighted it on aid, and, upon cleaning, found that the cables had tweaked to the point that the lobes no longer had proper action, and the unit was useless. Long story short, at crag and home repair attempts failed. I felt like a sod for ruining my buddies cam. Metolius had him send it in and said they'd replace it. This was recent, so time will see if they come through, but at the moment, he is one piece short on his rack. Evan


I agree... love the cams, hate the durability of the trigger cable. I've already busted two in some jagged cracks.


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By Greg D
From Here
Feb 15, 2009
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W. <br />

Disappointed with this review. No falls? Its like going to the car dealer and getting into the car, starting it up, checking out the stereo, power window, sun roof, etc and never driving it. 99.9% of the gear I place is to fall on. Granted, trigger action, ease of placement, ease of removal, ergonomics are important. But, if I haven't fallen on the gear I haven't tested it.


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By Pete Spri
Jun 11, 2009

Any updated opinions on Master Cams? Pros? Cons?

I'm contemplating getting a set, but most of the reviews on these cams really haven't had much climbing on them, or many/any falls.


Soooo... anyone care to update their thoughts on them?


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By Phoenix
From louisville, colorado
Jun 12, 2009
hiking 8-5-09 (Don't chase the rabbit!!!)

Whipped on every one of the Mastercams, they're every bit as bomber as the placement. I do agree that the trigger "cables" could be more sturdy however.
-Z


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By Aaron Martinuzzi
Jun 12, 2009
end of the day in the black canyon.

I haven't fallen on mine, but have a couple complaints. As with most of the Metolius cams I've used, there isn't decent overlap between the sizes. I've got 0, 1, and 2 Mastercams, and I come across cracks that are too big for my #1 (tipped out) and too small for my #2 (overcammed). With pieces this small I sort of hoped that wouldn't be a problem. Also, the head of the cam, like, the metal piece in between the lobes, is rather bulbous. On the smaller units - 0 and 1 - this thing has a tendency to get lodged in imperfect cracks, almost like a nut, making the units difficult to clean.

Those are my gripes. They do place really well in funny pods and shallow cracks thanks to their surprisingly narrow head, and I have been happy to have them. Mastercams and DMM Peenuts are my first forays into the world of small/tiny pro, and it's been nice to have them on my rack.


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By pfwein
Jun 12, 2009

Aaron Martinuzzi wrote:
I haven't fallen on mine, but have a couple complaints. As with most of the Metolius cams I've used, there isn't decent overlap between the sizes. I've got 0, 1, and 2 Mastercams, and I come across cracks that are too big for my #1 (tipped out) and too small for my #2 (overcammed). With pieces this small I sort of hoped that wouldn't be a problem. Also, the head of the cam, like, the metal piece in between the lobes, is rather bulbous. On the smaller units - 0 and 1 - this thing has a tendency to get lodged in imperfect cracks, almost like a nut, making the units difficult to clean. Those are my gripes. They do place really well in funny pods and shallow cracks thanks to their surprisingly narrow head, and I have been happy to have them. Mastercams and DMM Peenuts are my first forays into the world of small/tiny pro, and it's been nice to have them on my rack.

With all due respect, I think it's possible that what you consider to be "overcammed" is actually a good, bomber placement. IMHO, small cams especially should be placed so that they are tight (just not absolutely as tight as they can go so they don't get stuck--if you back it off just a tad, you should be fine). I've seen many comments where people think the "rangefinder" feature on Metolius cams encourages too tight of placements. I'd submit that maybe Metolius has a good understanding of how tight its cams should be placed, and that is tighter than many users think. I've heard the view expressed that an "overcammed" cam is somehow dangerous in that it can come out. I called Metolius and asked them about that--they said a stuck, overcammed cam is as bomber as a cam can get.
Just throwing this out there and don't mean to be critical, and certainly anyone can reasonably disagree here.


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By Brian Scoggins
From Eugene, OR
Jun 12, 2009

Call me crazy, but if a cam is difficult to remove because you can't really retract it anymore, I'd say that's the definition of overcammed. Sure its safe, but its also hard to remove.

I try to avoid overcamming pieces, if I can avoid it, because its a $60+ mistake. The fact that it so consistently happens with metolius cams (even pre-range finder) means that its something with the cam angle. I disagree with the rangefinder definition of a good placement only because the edge between yellow and green is actually a very good placement. The way the rangefinder system works encourages overcamming simply because what's called a good placement is towards the small end of the range.


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By Chuck Parks
From Atlanta, GA
Jun 12, 2009
Chuck in the final mellow section of Te Dum at the Near Trapps.

springs wrote:
Any updated opinions on Master Cams? Pros? Cons? I'm contemplating getting a set, but most of the reviews on these cams really haven't had much climbing on them, or many/any falls. Soooo... anyone care to update their thoughts on them?


I took a good fall on my blue #1 Master Cam last year. Probably a 15-20 foot fall with maybe 40-50 feet of rope out? (I didn't really stop to measure!)

Placement was in a horizontal slot. It lined up so that the bottom edge of the slot was lined up right on the dreaded "trigger cables". As you can see in the picture below, there was some crimping of the bottom trigger cable. This did interfere with the action of the cam. But I just stuck a screwdriver tip in there and pried it back out a little bit, and it's smooth as ever now.

Shows impact point and trigger cable damage to Master Cam from fall on horizontal placement.
Shows impact point and trigger cable damage to Master Cam from fall on horizontal placement.



The lobes, axle, etc. are just fine. The only other damage of note from that fall is that the thumb loop elongated a bit. You can kind of see that in this picture:

Shows elongation of Master Cam thumb loop caused by fall.
Shows elongation of Master Cam thumb loop caused by fall.


I consider that to be normal wear and tear for just about any "loopy cam".

Overall, I think it's held up better than I expected. I still think the trigger cable design is a bit weaker than Aliens. But it's probably more of a concern in aid climbing, where you're essentially "falling" on every piece.


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By Pete Spri
Jun 12, 2009

Brian Scoggins wrote:
Call me crazy, but if a cam is difficult to remove because you can't really retract it anymore, I'd say that's the definition of overcammed. Sure its safe, but its also hard to remove. I try to avoid overcamming pieces, if I can avoid it, because its a $60+ mistake. The fact that it so consistently happens with metolius cams (even pre-range finder) means that its something with the cam angle. I disagree with the rangefinder definition of a good placement only because the edge between yellow and green is actually a very good placement. The way the rangefinder system works encourages overcamming simply because what's called a good placement is towards the small end of the range.


I agree on the extreme "green" range-finder comment. However, the more than I've used my tcus, esp. the small ones, I've gotten to a place where I like having them close to fully cammed. Call me crazy but I've never had a stuck tcu, and I cam them close to the full range. 4CU small units might be more of an issue because they can walk in tighter (as opposed to tcus than tend to pivot instead of walking) and take out that bit of play that you need to release them.

So yeah, I agree with you that maybe the last green dot on the rangefinder is a bit of overkill, but beyond that, I wouldn't change it. IMO, good camming is retracting the lobes so that they have at leased passed opposing lobes, and in my experience are a ways beyond that.


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By jbarnum
From Denver, CO
Jun 12, 2009

I agree that with the ranger finder it appears that Metolius Cams are "overcammed" when placed correctly. Most stores have a demo, with various placement sizes in a metal box, demonstrating the "range finder". When using this, is does appear that compared to most cams, Metolius visually look overcammed, but that is how they are made. I personally own Master Cams, have fallen on them and noticed the loop becomes elongated, but that is about it. I will continue to use them, as I know this company is bomber, and will stand behind their product. A safer alternative to the smaller gear options out there.

As for durablity, keep in mind that most gear can reach then end of its life the first day you own it. 50-60 foot whipper on a #1, stopping your ground fall--I'd say the piece did its job. Perhaps you no longer can trust it and are out $60, but that is the price of admission. Use a nut if you want to save money.


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By Mike
From Phoenix
Jun 12, 2009
Doing the jump-across off The Mace.  I never get tired of this climb.  Photo by Wednesday Hugus.

springs wrote:
Any updated opinions on Master Cams? Pros? Cons? I'm contemplating getting a set, but most of the reviews on these cams really haven't had much climbing on them, or many/any falls. Soooo... anyone care to update their thoughts on them?


Last week I was climbing in Sedona with my friend Joe. He took a good whipper (30' or so) in a tips crack and ripped out 3 aliens. One of the aliens was a crappy 'psychological pro' placement, and the other 2 blew pods out of the soft rock. The only thing that kept him from decking was my orange master cam. Other than an elongated thumb loop (similiar to Chuck Parks picture earlier) it certainly appears to still be in good condition. HTH.

-Mike


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By Entropy
Aug 5, 2009

Here is an extensive discussion of master cams, their pros, cons and limitations.

BEFORE YOU BUY MASTER CAMS, KNOW THEIR LIMITATIONS (discussed here!):

www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_f>>>


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By Casey Lems
From Lakewood, CO
Aug 6, 2009
Scenic pic from 2nd belay station on Spire One in the Black Hills

Entropy wrote:
Here is an extensive discussion of master cams, their pros, cons and limitations. BEFORE YOU BUY MASTER CAMS, KNOW THEIR LIMITATIONS (discussed here!): www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_f>>>


Make sure you read the whole thread. Metolius made an official statement on the discussion in the thread which is found on page 8. There were no "limitations" found in the end as none of the initial test results could be reproduced (even by the initial tester) because the initial tests were found to be flawed.


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By Mike Dudley
From Vegas
Aug 6, 2009
Cracker Jack on lead.

The more and more I climb on my master cams the more I love them. Just my $.02


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By pfwein
Aug 6, 2009

I followed that rc.com pretty closely. From my point of view, it just sort of died without revealing whether there is a potential problem with the MasterCam trigger or not in certain placements (in the vast marjority of placements, inlcuding horizontals, there is clearly no problem).
I have exactly one MasterCam--I've used it a fair amount and like it very much, but I'm still vaguely troubled by the potential trigger issue. That could just be my paranoia, and it's clear if there is any problem at all, it's minor and only relevant to a subset of marginal placements. Probably no need to repeat the entire rc.com thread, but if anyone has deep insights on the MasterCam trigger issue (or lack of issue), I'd love to hear them.


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By Greg D
From Here
Aug 6, 2009
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W. <br />

I did have one problem with a master cam. I took a modest fall (gear @ my feet, 40' of rope out) onto a blue. Apparently, the rock was contacting the lobe precisely where the trigger wire goes through the lobe. At this point on the lobe, the lobe is quite thing. The lobe got crushed in this spot. Not complaining. It did hold my fat ass. Perhaps a crystal was at this precise spot when I fell generating excessive force on this thin spot. Anybody else have this happen?


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By BIATHLON
From Duluth Mn
Nov 6, 2009
Leading Barnburner

I bought a whole set of master cams (00-6) in march 09 and have used them quite a bit and taken falls on almost all of them. I really like them although not as much as C4's. One problem I did have with one is after taking an approximant 5-10 foot fall on the size 00 cam. It was placed in a horizontal crack and held the fall just fine. After cleaning the route I noticed one of the lobes would no longer open all the way after the trigger was released. I contacted Metolius and sent it back to them. They sent me a brand new one free of charge plus they paid for all the shipping. Their customer service was great and they kept me informed throughout the process. Other then that I have had no other problems with them.


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