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  • 5 months later...
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I think BD did some testing on the screamers some time ago and basically there is no science behind them, The same way as placing screws at 90 degrees plus makes them more prone to failure.


Rigging for Rescue in Ouray did testing on screamers and it was very positive actually. The screamers decreased peak force and deployed with amazing predictability.

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  • 8 months later...
I had a screamer deploy once, and after it was over both she and I were exhausted. The only thing I can reccommend is maybe some soundproofing, as it can get out of hand, especially if you still live with your parents.

Steve that is why I love to climb with you. Off the wall funny dude.


To all: I place screamers on the first two screws regardless of the ice. After that I expect the ropes to do their job. I have not taken a fall either. There is a good reason they are called screamers. Good discussion about the screamers though. Continue.....

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Dear All,

All I can add to this thread is some anecdotal thoughts. I have taken two "for real" leader falls on vertical ice (i.e., more than several body lengths long). Both times the screw held. Both times the screw did not have a load limiting device (screamer, etc.)on it. Both times the ice into which the screw was threaded was suboptimal (average quality--not solid "blue"). Both times I was using a 10.5 mm rope (not overly "stretchy"). One time I was near the start of the lead, the other time about half way through the lead. This is not much data to go on, but it does suggest that screamers are definitely a good idea (I use them), though not absolutely essential to a safe lead. I have taken one leader fall on a screamer--it was while leading an aid pitch on El Cap, and the piece was not great so I added the screamer. Higher up a piece blew and I loaded the screamer. The screamer partially separated and the piece held (thankfully). On reflection I think the value of the screamer in that situation is limiting the "stop-start" action in an aid fall--i.e., fall, temporarily load the piece below--it blows, fall, repeat the process on the next piece below--i.e., the sharp load peaks and valleys which comes with "zippering" gear. I am not a scientist who has studied this in a controlled experiment, but my hunch is a screamer might be nice when the leader thinks "zippering" gear could occur. The down side to the use of anything like this is psychological dependency. The safe leader is one who can maintain his/her focus and emotional calm while on the sharp end. Part of this mental skill is the ability to maintain composure when things are less than ideal. Here is an extreme example--one time while in Leavenworth, at Castle Rock, I witnessed a climber back down from a lead because he had left his chalk bag in the car and felt "unsafe" leading with his partner's chalk bag. This was decades ago, but clearly this climber was not confident leading unless all the stars were aligned just right and all his gear was perfect. Such a mental state makes this climber weaker--i.e., less flexible, adaptable, perservering, etc. So in this context if an ice climber gets into the mindset that the only safe screw is a screw with a screamer, this mental state can actually put the climber at greater risk (ex., what happens when the leader drops a screamer, brought too few for all the screws on the lead, left them in the car at the trailhead, etc.). The ability to stay focused and calm when setbacks occur is integral to safety. My few leader falls on ice suggest that one can be fairly safe on lead without a screamer. That said, I use them, but not on every screw, just where I think the screw could use a little help.


Cheers and safe climbing,

Bob Loomis, Spokane, Washington

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