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First Trad Rack!


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I'm working on putting together my first trad rack.


I'm looking at:


Set of BD Nuts

Camalot C4 .3-#4 (8 total Cams)

00-2 Master Cams as "doubles" of the lower C4's (this was a recommendation)

Slings and Biners.


What I'm looking for is OPINIONS, DISCUSSION, SPRAY, whatever...


I've done a lot of multipitch CLEANING and am pushing myself to hopefully do my first trad lead this summer and I'd like to do it on my own gear (like my first ice lead was...)


Anyhoo, I'd love to hear reviews of Cams, the makeup of your rack, what you've learned over time, etc.



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Look at the ABC Huevos nuts. They're the same sizes as the BD ones and usually a little cheaper.


When I first started I had cams from .3-3 with some doubles in the mid range of .5-2. When you start, most of the easier climbs are in this range. Then as I started to climb harder stuff I got smaller and bigger gear as needed.


I do like my little mastercams though.

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I think you're off to a good start for most of the moderate trad climbing in Washington.


I'd drop the #4 C4 and double up in the .75C4 or 1 C4 since you're way more likely to be climbing hand sized cracks than wide stuff early on in your leading. Also, you might consider getting Fixe Aliens or Metolius Power Cams instead of the Master Cams (though this is another personal preference). You could also wait for the new BD X4 cams since they are pretty nice. No need for the tiniest cams (e.g. metolius 00 and 0), but rather I'd double up in the fingers and hand sizes.

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Pretty often I find myself wishing that I bought gas instead of gear. Sitting at home staring at gear just ain't as fun for me as climbing and wishing I had more gear.


I can understand wanting to have your own shiny rack, but there are so many people out there with tons of gear sitting around. Borrowing is a great way to get a feel for what you want to drop the coin on when you finally do.


Without posting what kind of budget you're working with and what kind of routes you're climbing it is really hard to give good recommendations. Though if money isn't an issue then no worries eh?

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A few more thoughts:


- DMM Wallnuts are nicer than the BD nuts, though a bit more expensive

- I'd get C4's in 0.5 to 3 - I rarely use my .3 and the 4 isn't a common placement either

- I'd go with either the new BD X4 or the Fixe Aliens over MasterCams - but I prefer cams with more flexibility

- Camp Photon biners are awesome for draws - big but light

- DMM Phantom biners come in cam-matching colors for your racking pleasure

- Mammut slings have a sewn-over label over the sewn juncture, making them less snag-prone than any others I've seen (you'll need to see this to understand)

- don't underestimate the importance of hexes, especially for alpine / winter mixed

- I wouldn't double-up on anything until I knew what I really used a lot (C4's .75 to 2 in my case, and green and blue aliens)

- depending where you are, some pins can be very useful

- and if you get pins, don't get a hammer that's too light, or too heavy

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I started out with all passive pro, because it was what I could afford. It was a good way to learn nut-craft, and is generally sufficient for anything 5.9 and under.


The totem basics paired with metolius tcus are what I'd recommend for little cams. I wouldn't by bd in anything under .5. The new bd x4s are probably going to be cool, but I always wait a couple of years before I get the new toys, it seems like they always make improvements. Probably start out with a single set of totem basics and play with friends gear until you decide what you want for your second set.

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This is great folks! Thanks for all of your awesome input.


Some thoughts:


- Yep, was waiting on the X4's simply because it's new tech and you never know about recalls and such before they really get in the field

- Really appreciate all the talk about the lower sizes and will likely integrate that by skipping some of the smaller cams

- I'll check out some of those DMM Wallnuts, good stuff.

- Double up finger & hand sizes, check!

- JoeR, credit goes a long way to buy gas. I'm using up much of an REI dividend that was bolstered by a bunch of logistical purchases for a Denali trip on my REI card... LOL.

- Gene, I forsee my first trad lead coming at Leavenworth, Mazama, Index or X38. Probably not Vantage but who knows. I have only climbed at Leavenworth & Mazama so far in WA (with about 5 minutes at X38). So, who knows. Just turns out that I can get started using my dividend to be ready. You'd be surprised, I bought my first ice tools FOUR YEARS before I actually used em - and they got so much use that I'm on my 2nd pair.


Thanks for all the input, if anyone has any other thoughts, I'm still open for ideas! Thanks all!

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1. what you propose will work fine for the stuff up here in squamish ... the cams and nuts all work fine, different people have different preferences


2. DO NOT buy your own gear before leading with more experienced partners ... youll use their gear, find out what you like or dont, and they can inspect yr placements


3. squamish is probably the best place to learn, and you dont need to wait till summer ... weve had a week of sun right now and its DRY ... the rock is excellent, the protection straight forward, theres tons of moderate cragging and multi, and even on many moderates the falls are decently clean ... its known as the kiddie playground of trad for a reason ;)


4. dont bother with doubles as you should be climbing with experienced people who have at least part of a rack when starting out ... usually you need to decide what NOT to bring with 2 somewhat experienced trad leaders ... single + single = double =P



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After a summer of borrowing gear or climbing on partners racks I started with:


-1 set of BD nuts

-Metolius TCU #1 and #2 (I recommend the TCU in the smaller sizes)

-Metolius Power Cam #3, #4 and #5

-#1 and #2 Camalot


This is the perfect balance of what you need to get started and not breaking the bank, imo. Over the subsequent years I picked up:


-#3 and #4 camalot (which I rarely place)

-#1 and #2 Rigid friends I picked up at a gear swap and had re-slung (doubles for finger size cracks)

-#8, #9, #10 and #11 Hexentrics (picked up at a gear swap)


I LOVE my hexes!!! Great way to double up on larger sizes without breaking the bank or weighing you down on those alpine approaches. They also provide a secure placement where nothing else will (like inward flaring cracks). Just put a long sling on them. Nobody has mentioned it here yet, but I know alot of people like tri-cams for this same reason. Pink seems to be a popular size.


Good luck






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Yeah, I don't agree with the "You'll piss people off". I've climbed on many different types of cams as a follower and never had any problems with people complaining. C4's seem like the most popular, but it looks like many of the other cams have their uses and/or niche. I think where this gets interesting is when you're using older cams with more difficult cleans or placements where there are double stems and such. If it's too hard to clean, that's been a problem for me. However, that's more about the choice in leader's placement than the type of cam IMHO (unless we're talking over cammed or under cammed units).

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You'll piss off your partners if your full size cams are anything but C4s. I have a few big Metolious cams but use them rarely.


A relevant message, just maybe using the wrong words. With anything but Camalots you will potentially make it more difficult for your partners. Everyone knows C4s, the colors and sizes, not so with other cams. Also C4s because of their double axle have a wider size range per each individual cam, so they have a better chance of properly fitting any given placement.


The only exception to this rule might be DMM Dragon Cams, which match the C4's in size, color, and double axle. Smart marketing from DMM, they obviously saw that the Camalots were the go to cam on the market and decided to build to this standard.


On harder climbs I carry the full range of C4's to at least #2 and the Master Cams down to #0. Master cams are quite a bit narrower in the axle length direction than C4's so they work in more restricted placements. They also may have some of the benefit of being widely used like the C4. Also of note is the fact that the sizes and colors match Metoleus's earlier TCU cams, which were quite popular. So if you learned that cam line it carries over to the Master Cam.

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Set of nuts...bd's or hueavos.


BD's .75 - 3


Alien Clones (fixe, totem, master) down to yellow or green (alien)/blue (metolius).


Then start buying doubles in those sizes. Larger and smaller then that are less frequently used and can be bought later if you find yourself needing them. Nuts overlap with the smaller cam so double up on the BD's first so you can climb long hand cracks.


Lots of slings.

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My two cents..


Metolius TCU's are great for the smaller stuff. I find myself place the yellow one a lot as it is right on with my finger size.


Camp pink TCU, surprised no one mentioned that yet, is a piece I take with me almost everywhere.


Hexes are lighter for larger pro, but the are a bit trickier to place. This is a cheaper way to cover that size without throwing down for a spendy, large cam.


Not having C4's will only piss off gumbies.


You'll want DMM offsets if you ever come down and play on the basalt down south here in the Gorge, but why would you ever do that?!


Rad was spot on about cleaning pitches.


And.. nutcraft, good stuff.


Play with other folks' gear to find what you like and can place confidently. Then when you build your own rack with it, you will have confidence in it.



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I don't spend alot of time analyzing fine points of gear, mainly because most of the pro I acquired in the 80s and 90s is still working fine. Lessons:


* Wild Country makes durable/light nuts and cams that are under-appreciated (under-marketed?) in the US


* Sling rack for trad/multipitch: 2x48", 8x24", 4x12". The 12"-ers are fine on bolts and better on nuts than the dog-bone style. The 24"s can be shortened by doubling or tripling up.


* Don't waste your money on the ultra-thin slings, which are less durable and don't save much weight anyway.


* Use your savings to buy nice wire-gate biners which will be well appreciated on long approaches. Tiny biners are not fun.

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With regard to slings, I carry about 6-8 single length (60cm) and 4-6 double length. I don't carry any 30cm slings (no real point, and not versatile for other things) nor do I carry any dog bones. I guess if you were going to a sport crag, dog bones would work fine. And its definitely worth getting a noseless biner for your slings, I use the DMM Alpha.

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