Editor’s Note: Yes, we’re all shut inside dreaming of getting back to the rock during the COVID-19 pandemic, doing our part to help flatten the curve. But that also means that it’s a good time to drool over the latest gear, and think about how we’ll put it into play when the cliffs and the gyms reopen. As they’ve done for the past three years, our friends over at Black Diamond have rolled out a new piece of equipment for April 1: the No. 21 Camalot C4, for protecting chimneys. We wanted to get our hands on one to test, but then were told shipping and handling for this ginormous cam would have been $200—and traveling for climbing is verboten anyway, to avoid spreading the virus. Those desert chimneys will just have to wait….
So, is the No. 21 real? Is it a prank? Is it a little bit of both? (And moreover, which side of your harness should you clip it too while climbing?)
You be the judge!
From Black Diamond
BD Athlete Alex Honnold has never been a fan of wide cracks. Or as he puts it a little more bluntly: “Offwidth climbing sucks.” But even Honnold has to thrust his body into deep fissures from time to time.
“Many of the most classic routes in the world, like the Freerider (VI 5.13a) on El Cap, or great desert towers, have heinous wide pitches guarding the summit,” says Honnold. “I wanted to find a way to make chimneys and wide cracks a little more mellow. Luckily I knew just the folks to talk to.” Enter Black Diamond’s climbing category director Kolin “KP” Powick. [See Climbing No. 372, our current issue, for a Faces profile of Powick.]
“When Honnold has a problem, we solve it,” says the inveterate gear guru. “And this was a particularly challenging project.”
KP and BD’s crack crew of engineers and designers quickly defined what Honnold needed and came to a conclusion—the perfect size Camalot to protect the BIGGEST, BADDEST cracks out there was a No. 21.
“Once we settled on a size,” says KP, “then the real work began.”
By re-engineering the traditional lobes of a Camalot, the team was able to create a cam that not only could protect a chimney pitch but would also be light enough to carry on a rack.
“The spacing and the diameter of the axles was a challenge, as well as ensuring the stem tube was stiff enough to withstand the increased head weight of the monster cam,” explains KP. “This was accomplished via FEA (finite element analysis) 3D printing samples, and iterative field testing.” The finishing touch was integrating the trigger keeper, developed last year for the largest C4s [No. 4 on up], to keep the massive #21 retracted until it’s time to whip it out.
- Innovative trigger keeper for compact racking
- Sling is updated visually for easier differentiation when racking
- Double-axle design offers the widest range ever invented
- C-Loop continuous cable stem design is strong and durable
- Color-coded for easy identification