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Rigid-stem friends
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By agd
May 1, 2012
alaska

Without regard to countervailing disadvantages, can anyone name some advantages that rigid stemmed cams offer over the modern variety?


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By Tombo
From Boulder
May 1, 2012
1/3 of the way up Spire, just above where my piece blew.

Sometimes easier to get unstuck because leverage on the cams can be applied through the stem. However, the ridgid stem contributes to walking in my opinion.


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By flynn
May 1, 2012

My experience has been that they're more predictable and generally more stable, but if you sling 'em short or omit a 'draw, the motion of the rope can make them walk a little more readily than the flex-stems will.

Since I'm kinda short, I like the fact that they extend my reach. Their rigidity is key to that advantage.

I also think that the old ones, at least, are less attractive to gear thieves. Never mind that some of the ones we use are the original nutted axles, nearly 30 years old and working just fine.

Lastly, you don't cry as much when you leave them on a retreat as you would if you left something more modern, a.k.a. expensive.


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
May 1, 2012
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

flynn wrote:
Lastly, you don't cry as much when you leave them on a retreat as you would if you left something more modern, a.k.a. expensive.


Ha ha ha. This is definitely the only advantage I can think of.


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By Dane
May 1, 2012
Cham '11

they are lighter in many cases


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By Ben Sachs
May 1, 2012

They will occasionally work in a flared horizontal placement where no other cam will hold. This is due to the bar stock acting like a lever. Sounds crazy but it's true.


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By john strand
From southern colo
May 1, 2012

i just went and counted...33 rigid Friends,, and paid for.

They last forever and they work.


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By Edward Medina
Administrator
From Charlotte, NC
May 1, 2012
The FA of Full Scholarship

I've found that in horizontal placements the rigid stem acts as a lever (with the bottom lip of the crack acting as a fulcrum) to press the cam even more forcefully into the sides (top & bottom) of the crack.


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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
May 1, 2012
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard

I think at tied-off rigid stem cam is the strongest horizontal crack protection there is, and, again with the tie-off, they are stronger in shallow featured vertical cracks where the cam has to be placed perependicular to the cliff face. The tie-offs are, however, critical, because otherwise the torque on the stem can be too much and the stem breaks.

In the first case, the downward load on the stem produces an outward force on the cam which is a fraction of the total load, so it would take a lot to extract the cam. I know of some rigid-stem placements that were made in flaring horizontals in the Gunks BITD that might not hold at all with today's flexible stems.

In the second case, a flexible stem loads the cams almost perpendicular to their expansion plane, nearly nullifying the mechanical principles that make a cam work. The rigid stem provides torque that gives the cams a chance to expand against the crack walls.


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By crewdoglm
From TAFB CA
May 2, 2012
78 degrees north at 40,000 bearing about 220. Five hour sunset.

Hi Alex. (I have at least 25 rigid Friends myself.) Somebody else asked a question similar to yours here a while back and I felt motivated enough to write the following:

Friends are really TOO good i.e., they almost never wear out because it's a big chunk of aviation grade aluminum. I think they were over-designed for an industry where consumers with sort attention spans want something newer and more high-speed every year. Friends are the 1911 Colt .45 of cams - a tad heavy, forever reliable and not as sexy as plastic stuff. Limits: rigid friends are not what you want in sizes less than a #1.5 (Red Metolius) because the stem takes up too much space and they will get stuck easily. (You will find old #1's and #1.5's out there welded to eternity and they would probably still save your life.) Also the Friend should not have stem cross-loaded as in a horozontal placement. However, people needlessly regard that limitation as though it were some huge threat which is completely solved by a cable. Horozontal placements are rarely ideal and not that common either. Even then, you can often bury a Friend back in there with the sling running over the edge instead of metal. Honestly if you fell far and hard on a cable that was bent 90 degrees over a horozontal edge, there is a good chance of cutting the damn cable and anyway, I would toss it even it it held. I recommend having a pile of rigid friends...and a 1911 for that matter. Keep both clean, loaded and ready to go.

Anyway it's pretty clear that their popularity has waned despite Wild Country's improved the design in last couple of years they were made (1999 or 2000?).


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By wivanoff
May 4, 2012
High Exposure

alexdavis wrote:
Without regard to countervailing disadvantages, can anyone name some advantages that rigid stemmed cams offer over the modern variety?


I have a set of tied off rigid stem Friends and a new set of Camalots. Still prefer the tied off Friends in horizontal cracks (Gunks). The 5mm tie offs are long enough so there is no crossload on the carabiner. And they last forever - I've been using them for over 20 years and they're still in great shape.

They just feel better and stronger to me. Don't know about lighter.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
May 4, 2012
Stabby

They're old school, which always makes everything superior.


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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
May 4, 2012
Colonel Mustard

I only have one bootied rigid stem. I've never had any problems with it, although I should look into that tie off to make it a little safer. I really didn't know they were considered more solid in horizontal placements with that mod.


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By Gunkiemike
May 4, 2012

Rigids are light and durable.

And the 1911 .45 kicks a$$. Best handgun I ever shot.


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By DexterRutecki
From Cincinnati, Ohio
May 4, 2012

Old Custer wrote:
I really didn't know they were considered more solid in horizontal placements with that mod.


Really? I would have thought as old as you are you would have known that.


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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
May 4, 2012
Colonel Mustard

DexterRutecki wrote:
Really? I would have thought as old as you are you would have known that.


Gee golly, I just switched over from hexes, so these SLCDs are a whole new can of worms.


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By SexPanther aka Kiedis
May 19, 2012
Thumbtastic

I like how she tries to flirt with the boys. Charmed I'm sho.


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By Alex Stenzel
Nov 29, 2012
Drifter 5 star, 12a, Malibu Creek

I also have a brand new complete set of rigid stems from 1991(never used). I love them! Should I resling them. You guys think the nylon is bad?


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By dancesatmoonrise
Nov 30, 2012
avatar

agd wrote:
can anyone name some advantages that rigid stemmed cams offer over the modern variety?


I've relegated my old rigid stem Friends to the alpine rack. The're lighter than BD Camalots, and seem to work just as well.

And it's nice to get a little nostalgic at altitude.


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By AnthonyM
Nov 30, 2012
Maroon Bells-Bell Cord Couloir

I have one set of flexible stems and Rigid-stems, as well as a variety of smaller sizes/models... Love my Rigids. Buy one and test it out-You will see. I fell in love with one when we decided to test an old worn out/rusted/seen better days Rigid-Stem in a class. That thing held everything in a variety of placements. Obviously certain placements are ideal for flexible stems but isn't that the point of gear? Pro's/Con's to each piece?

Try one. You will see.

Cheers!

-A


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By pooler
From Albany, NY
Nov 30, 2012

+1 for rigid stems. Got a set for free from one of the coolest dudes Iíve never met and I love them, they are bomb proof. I now have both types of cams and still find a situation on almost every climb where the rigid is a better suited placement. Although I do agree the smaller sizes have much fewer applications. But hey what do I know I still mostly use my nuts.


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By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From Lander, WY
Nov 30, 2012
The Shield

lighter


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By JLP
From The Internet
Nov 30, 2012

They're marginally lighter than C4's in some sizes, but not enough to make up for being awkward, energy sucking POS antiques to place and clean, never mind the walking. This is why you generally only see them being used on easy climbs. If they were actually better, we'd all be using them and they'd be dominating the market.


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By Peter Stokes
From Them Thar Hills
Nov 30, 2012
Wall Street, Moab, UT

They seem to walk more, but I also find them a bit easier to clean. As for the greater weight, well, let's just say if an extra half pound of gear keeps me from sending then I probably wasn't going to succeed with something modern either.


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By patto
Nov 30, 2012

This thread makes me regret selling my forged rigid friends. :-(

That said I like my cams, and I love Totems! I've never seen something grip as well as a Totem cam.


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By Alex Stenzel
Nov 30, 2012
Drifter 5 star, 12a, Malibu Creek

What about the nylon webbing on my rigid stems? You think it's safe to climb on 20 year old nylon webbing that never has been used. It looks brand new. Supposedly nylon, even when never used has a max life expectancy of 5 years. What you think?


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