bad climbing gear
Rock Climbing

Worst Climbing Gear Ever: The Don’ts of Vertical Adventures

In the climbing world, the evolution has been striking.

Imagine, just a few years back, climbers were grappling with bulky helmets and cumbersome ropes.

Now, take a glimpse into the current climber’s pack—lighter ropes, sleeker carabiners, and shoes with soles that seem to defy gravity’s hold.

It’s a testament to innovation and how even the most resistant materials have bowed to the march of progress.

However, it’s not all accolades and successful summits.

The journey to today’s high-tech gear has been sprinkled with missteps and gear that missed the mark.

Choices abound, yet not every piece of equipment ends up being a mainstay in a climber’s kit.

Some finds become classics, treasured and trusted on every ascent, while others fade into obscurity, remembered only as lessons learned in the continuous climb towards perfection.

Stubai Marwa

The Stubai Marwa, often likened to an ice screw that resembled a distorted wire coat hanger, ranged in size from four to nine inches.

It was a tool climbers would twist into ice during ascents in the latter part of the 1970s.

However, the screw’s design made it challenging to insert and was not particularly robust, leading to precarious situations if relied upon during a climb.

Benefits of the Stubai Marwa included:

  • Aiding Ascents: Before advancements in ice climbing equipment, the Marwa provided a means to progress up vertical ice.
  • Innovation Catalyst: Due largely to its deficiencies, the Marwa inadvertently encouraged the development of more effective ice climbing gear, contributing to the evolution of modern tube screws.

Forrest Mountaineering Titons

The Titons were an attempt to create a versatile piece of climbing protection.

Made primarily of aluminum in a T-shape, climbers had the option to slot them into rock crevices much like the larger Stoppers or hexes.

Their sides tapered, suggesting they might be used as camming devices, though they often proved unpredictable in camming mode and would dislodge.

Key Points:

  • They were essentially leftover T-stock aluminum scraps.
  • Functioned as large passive nuts but were heavier compared to similar gear.
  • Despite owner loyalty, they were not as reliable or effective as hoped.

Although they were part of a climber’s arsenal, many figured out over time that their performance was lackluster.

This gear was a rare miss in Bill Forrest’s otherwise innovative lineup, which included other cutting-edge equipment:

  • The first sewn climbing harnesses.
  • Aluminum-shaft ice tools with glued rather than riveted heads.
  • Gear with replaceable picks, such as the noteworthy Mjollnir ice tool and Wall Hammer.

While the Titons may not have been a highlight, Forrest’s contributions to climbing gear were significant elsewhere.

Canadian Quest Technology Buddy

In the climbing community, the Canadian Quest Technology Buddy is now a rare collector’s item, noted for its distinctive design differing significantly from the more adaptable camming devices of its time.

Introduced as a rival to the popular Friend, the Buddy featured a unique mechanism:

  • Design: Solid cams on either side of a stem.
  • Operation: Unlike its contemporary counterparts with thinner, flexible lobes, the Buddy’s rigid structure was designed to function in parallel-sided cracks only.

This gear piece turned out to be less versatile in climbing scenarios, as it struggled with placements that weren’t perfectly parallel.

Despite its limitations, the Buddy contributed to the climbing gear evolution:

  • It sparked innovation, leading to the development of more advanced technology including:
    • TCUs (Three Cam Units)
    • Devices with flexible stems
    • Double-axle camming units
    • Specialized micro and macro camming devices

While not the most functional gear in a climber’s rack, the Buddy holds a nostalgic place in the annals of climbing history.

One Sport Resin Rose Climbing Shoes

In the vibrant 1980s, the One Sport Resin Rose climbing shoes hit the market with a distinctive look and a unique design feature.

They showcased a bold pink and blue color scheme which certainly made them stand out.

At their core was a tin midsole intended to provide support—a material choice that was as unconventional as the shoe’s color palette.

This unusual midsole did offer climbers an improved edging capability, surpassing that of other popular models like the Fire at the time.

However, the tin midsole proved to be a double-edged sword.

Its sharp edges eventually penetrated the shoes, damaging the seam that connects the sole and the rand.

This defect not only compromised the shoe’s structure but also posed a risk to the climber’s safety.

Consequently, they earned a reputation for their flaw, and refunds became a common occurrence for retailers.

Despite their potential, the One Sport Resin Rose climbing shoes serve as a reminder that innovative materials need rigorous testing before they can be deemed a success in the climbing community.

Coyote Mountain Works Samson

In the late 1980s, Coyote Mountain Works introduced the Samson, a camming device with a body made of plastic composite material. This gear stood out because it promised a significant reduction in weight compared to its metal counterparts.

Despite the innovative use of material, the Samson had a critical flaw—it lacked the strength to endure twisting forces and would break under such pressure, similar to how fragile glass cracks easily.

Posted by
Thomas Caplan

Thomas Caplan is an author and avid outdoorsman who draws inspiration from nature. He enjoys hiking, tree climbing, and rock climbing, which influence his vivid storytelling and passion for the natural world in his writing.

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