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Tricams...point up or down
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By Dgillis
Oct 3, 2012
Started climbing again after about a 12 year lapse. Love moderate trad and enjoy figuring out gear solutions when im not in iminent peril of peeling!

Anyway... Tricams. Some of my favorite. Love that they fit in places like the eyebrows of looking glass where other things can be tricky. So, I have always tried to place them rails down in a horizontal, but have seen them placed tip down. Other than the nuances of a given placement, any advantage to one way over the other? Opinions welcome.

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By Avi Katz
Oct 3, 2012
I <3 tricams too. In a horizontal I tend to go with the idea that if the mouse body (wide end" of the piece is placed down it'll be a bit more stable. If it fits better with the "mouse head"down then I'll do it.
Same with SLCDs

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By John D
Oct 3, 2012
I think stinger up is more stable

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By divnamite
From New York, NY
Oct 3, 2012
According to CAMP-USA:

The same is true in horizontal cracks. There are three common types of placements for Tricams in horizontal cracks: sling up, sling down and opposing in shallow cracks (fig. C, G). Use the sling up orientation when you can. It will not expose the webbing to sharp edges or abrasion so it will increase the lifespan and engages solid camming action whether the sling is being tugged upward (as with rope drag during upward progression) or downward (in the event of a fall). Sling down will perform best in the middle of true traverse where the climber continues past the piece in a horizontal progression. Place the cam so the webbing comes out of crack on the same side of the cam as the direction of the continued progression. There are no hard and fast rules for sling down versus sling up in horizontal cracks. Things to watch for include sharp edges, flares and the ability to set the cam.

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By Dgillis
Oct 4, 2012
Great info. Thx

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By TomCaldwell
From Clemson, S.C.
Oct 4, 2012
Me on One Pitch Wonder at Whitesides.  Photo credits to Kyle Jones and his lucky anti-rain jacket.
Some orientations are also easier to place one-handed. I find that in vertical, it is often easier to place one-handed with the "point" facing the climber and horizontal facing down. Trying to get the point to engage in the upwards position in a horizontal often requires two hands. One to hold the tri-cam still while the other engages the "point". With "point" down in the same horizontal, your wrist naturally rotates in the correct direction to set it one-handed.

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By Gunkiemike
Oct 5, 2012
Many folks cling to the mistaken idea that "rails down" i.e. point up, is somehow more stable. As if to imply that the piece can tip over if it's point down. That's total nonsense of course; you can't rotate something triangular when it's wedged between parallel surfaces. Bottom line - place the piece in whatever orientation makes best use of the crack's irregularities.

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By Charlie S
From Ogden, UT
Oct 5, 2012
Cams above the arm bar moves on Three Pigs in a Slot, Indian Creek.
When I do place them (not common), I'll try to put it in point down/rails up. Reason being that if the piece got jerked, the point would simply "fall" to a flat condition, and out of the crack.

However, after giving myself a bloody nose while trying to place one (granted, I was looking right at it as I was pulling), I've tended to rely more on cams...but that's unrelated.

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By nbrown
From western NC
Oct 5, 2012
Top of Shortoff with the Bonsai
Point down gives the unit more camming action but slightly less stability in larger sizes (roughly sizes purple and up.)

Rails down is more stable (again in larger sizes) but creates slightly less camming action due to the angle of the sling (less rotational force on the unit).

The larger sized tricams are narrower vertically. So, in a horizontal placement with the point down, it is easy for them to wiggle and fall out of placement if they are not set and slung well.

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By roger fritz from rockford, IL
From Rockford, IL
Oct 5, 2012
Wichita Mountains, Sunshine Wall
My $.02 in reference to the point up or down topic:

The criteria that I follow for an active tri-cam placement are:
1. The point should be blocked by a feature in the rock (This prevents the point from skating straight out of the placement).
2. The point should be pointing straight into the rock along with making full surface contact (this keeps the point from skating out to the side of its placement).
3. Both long rails should be making contact perpendicular across both rails.
4. The openness of the cam should be in the range of 25-50%.

If all 4 of these criteria are met, it maximizes the stability of an active tri-cam placement.

The consideration of whether the point should face up or down is a component of the tri-cams placement that typically makes small changes to its overall stability. It can, however, have a considerable affect on the overall quality of its placement. The points that many of you all brought up are valid and should be taken into consideration when tri-cam is being put into action!

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By roger fritz from rockford, IL
From Rockford, IL
Oct 5, 2012
Wichita Mountains, Sunshine Wall
Dgillis wrote:
Started climbing again after about a 12 year lapse. Love moderate trad and enjoy figuring out gear solutions when im not in iminent peril of peeling! Anyway... Tricams. Some of my favorite.


Welcome back to climbing! After a long time off, I came back also. In my situation, I think it was good for me to get out of the climbing scene. It kept me from climbing in my "not-so-mature" years of my life. By avoiding the climbing errors of my youth, I aspire to climb maturely for a long time!
Tri-cams are awesome! Place em well, climb up and enjoy the catch if you fall!

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By Gunkiemike
Oct 5, 2012
nbrown wrote:
Point down gives the unit more camming action but slightly less stability in larger sizes (roughly sizes purple and up.) Rails down is more stable (again in larger sizes) but creates slightly less camming action due to the angle of the sling (less rotational force on the unit).


It's a bit more complicated than this. For placements close to the lip of a horizontal crack, you have to weigh the difference in friction as the sling sits on the rock edge (point up placement) vs. riding on the smaooth aluminum (point down situation). But point down allows the sling to run closer to the point - which is effectively the center of rotation if we want to compare torque - which reduces the rotational force AKA torque. Opposite of what you state above.

Both issues go away as the placement gets deeper into the crack.

Bottom line - go with the orientation that better fits the irregularities of the crack.

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By jim.dangle
Oct 6, 2012
On a related note: has anyone ever whipped on a cammed tricam?

I place them a fair amount but I'm always a littler nervous when I get above them. It just seems like even though the cam action obviously works, because there is so much force concentrated on the little tip/point/nub, the placement will blow out easily with any real fall.

The safest placements seem to combine camming with a little passive action (a pocket with a solid shelf to seat them behind), which cuts down on their usefulness. At least in relatively smooth granite.

They are also pretty unstable and make it hard to judge the true direction of a potential fall.

I'm complaining but I still place them.


Jim

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By nbrown
From western NC
Oct 6, 2012
Top of Shortoff with the Bonsai
Jim,

I know what you mean, I prefer a good cam to a good tricam just about any day. However, we do use those suckers A LOT down here in NC due to some of the bizarre rock features in the region. I have fallen, hung, and even aided on these things quite a bit. Once they're set, they are set (often times for life). Just did a new route last weekend that requires the pink one for pro at one of the cruxes because absolutely nothing else would work.

Gunkiemike,

We'll just have to (respectfully) agree to disagree on the intricacies of placing them up or down. It has been my experience with shallow placements (you made a valid point about the depth of the placement) that (and given the crack is uniform - which is not all that common) the point down creates a better camming action, as the weight of you on the sling effectively "squeezes" or "pinches" the unit harder into the placement, as opposed to the sling pulling away from it in the point up orientation. I've tested this numerous times aiding up on shallow, sometimes flared eyebrows.

Of course, I agree with the bottom line of placing it how it best fits the crack.


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By Gunkiemike
Oct 6, 2012
Ah, I see what you're saying. And it makes sense - in the absence of a real positive divot to place the point in, having the sling pull (down) in that direction would produce a better bite. More of the force is pressing the point into the rock surface. Which is not inconsistent with there being less rotational torque. I have placed exactly one pink Tricam in a flare for aid; my general placements are in featured horizontals where the point is really well supported. And - to put this thing to rest - in placements like these, the subtle diff. in rotational torque is of zero concern.

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