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December 20, 2012

Magnetic Carabiner

Screen Shot 2012-12-19 at 7.37.05 PM

From Black Diamond comes a reinvention of the climbing carabiner, replacing locks with magnets enabling one-handed locking and unlocking.


December 20, 2012 at 08:01 AM | Permalink


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Interesting link, Mark.

I presently use an 8 ring for raps, and have for so long that my Clog descender had enough wear that I retired it and replaced it with a Mammut.

I'm old enough to have used 25' of 1" tubular webbing for my Swami belt. I also have a slew of old belay gear (not counting the Munter Hitch) and like to keep my belay tools separate from rapping tools.

Still, you might Google KJ Magnetics for a great site for all things magnetic.

Back to J-Tree for me this holiday!

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Dec 22, 2012 2:22:47 AM

I don't know about effects of overheating on magnets — however, the carabiner and belay/rappel device can become extremely hot due to friction. It's not often that a simple fall will generate enough heat as most are short and modern belay devices are quite effective. The odd way-whipper on an ice or alpine route will usually have other consequences that push any carabiner-related concerns way down the hierarchy — i.e., the self-rescue and hospital visit will come first. That said, rappelling (or lowering a leader from the anchors) will heat up both the carabiner and belay/rappel device. Lowering won't be more than 30 meters due to the accepted norm for rope and route length. Rappels may be 55-60m and while the heat generated by friction can be enough to burn skin, again, I have no idea how that might affect a magnet. Seems of trivial concern, though, because by constantly handling the carabiner the user is inspecting it — so any change in its locking characteristics will be noted. Besides, this is easily solved by choosing other locking mechanisms. I like this one: http://www.rockexotica.com/products/carabiners/ORCA.html
which is downright ingenious.

Posted by: Mark Twight | Dec 21, 2012 2:19:09 PM

Graeme / Avo,

I no longer climb with this guy. He felt belaying was beneath his skillset anyways. Last I heard he was recovering from a fall in Utah where he now climbs 'professionally'. Professionally meaning couch surfing because he can't pay rent, eatting cans of cat food, and hitchhiking...while getting some free gear and occasionally winning a few hundred that should go to paying friends back that loaned money, but instead converts one green to another green.

Posted by: clifyt | Dec 21, 2012 12:38:56 PM

This 'biner has a specific use: it attaches a belay device to one's harness. The "foot" swivels when the gate is open and you place your harness tye-in loop through to the bottom loop of the 'biner. The rope and belay device retention loop go into the large loop. When closed this 'biner segregates the harness from the working rope.

I own a number of these with a more conventional locking mechanism. I'm not buying the magnetic lock version for a number of reasons. One excellent reason is that the rare-earth magnet will lose its magnetism if it is heated. A significant fall will pull several meters of rope through the belay device and, in the process, the friction of the rope running over the 'biner will heat the magnet. How many falls will it take before the lock ceases to function?

Sport climbing in a gym would see dozens of falls every day. While those gym climbs are top-roped climbs (mostly) and the majority of falls will be stopped with little or no friction, but I expect that the magnet would fail over time.

Ice climbers and Trad climbers have the potential for taking long falls. How much heat will it take to defeat the locking mechanism? Will one long fall suffice? I don't know and I don't want to find out.

Clifyt's "belayer" is apparently unaware that Gravity is a constant.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Dec 21, 2012 11:39:40 AM

Ouch clifyt! I do hope you don't climb with him any more! Thankfully all my climbing mishaps have been minor, due in the main to having decent partners.

Posted by: Graeme | Dec 20, 2012 8:52:38 PM

These sorts of things scare me. What is so different about these and the springloaded carabiners that the hotshots use and end up getting hurt (and others hurt) with?

When I climbed, there were two groups of people...those that wanted the lightest possible gear and safety be damned, and those of us that just enjoyed climbing and didn't feel like getting killed. My last climbing partner (over a year ago) was the former. He ended up dropping me with a 5 story whipper after not actually anchoring in, nor taking up the slack as I climbed. If his shorts hadn't got caught in the belay device, I probably wouldn't be mentioning this now. His excuse was that I shouldn't have fallen on an easy hold.

Posted by: clifyt | Dec 20, 2012 11:30:07 AM

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