Monday, 2 February 2015

Gucci Karabiners: Black Diamond Magnetron vs Grivel TwinGate

Black Diamond Rocklock (top)
Grivel TwinGate (bottom)
Back in 2011 I posted about the  up and coming releases shown at OutDoor 2011. Amongst these was the Black Diamond Magentron karabiner; a locking karabiner with a magnet to keep the gate closed. Emma got me one for Christmas and I have to say it's pretty cool. At the same time I noticed the Grivel TwinGate karabiners on the market at a decent price, and so I decided it was time to revive my gear reviewing with a head to head karabiner competition between these 2 bad boys!

First up then, the Black Diamond Magnetron.The Magnetron karabiners come in 3 different versions; the Gridlock from (£27), the Vaporlock (From £24) and the Rocklock (From £21). The gridlock is a magnetron version of Black Diamonds Gridlock karabiner, the Vaporlock is a small pear shaped karabiner, and the Rocklock is a larger HMS karabiner, all are available with different colour gates and all 3 feature the Magnetron locking system; meaning all you have to do is to gently apply pressure on either side of the karabiner gate to unclip the magnet system allowing the gate to open. On releasing the gate the magnet re- engages and the karabiner locks closed automatically. This is incredibly easy to do, and allows for
Bent spine shape allows for maximum gate opening
easy one handed operation. Applying pressure only one side will not open the lock, meaning the chance of accidental opening is limited. For the purpose of this review my comments will be based on the Rocklock version only. At 87g the karabiner feels light in the hand, with the usual high build quality you would expect from Black Diamond. The shape of the karabiner maximises the gate opening meaning you could easily sneak 2 clove hitches on (I tried this with 10mm rope!). I used a Rocklock on my belay device on a recent climbing trip, and I can honestly say they feel very secure, coupled with an ease of use I haven't experienced with a quicklock karabiner before. I would definitely recommend these karabiners to anyone who wants to use a quicklock karabiner but has never got along with other models.

Now onto the Grivel TwinGate series. There are 2 versions of the TwinGate karabiner; the Sigma and the Mega. The Sigma is a smaller snap gate style karabiner, whilst the Mega is a slightly larger HMS karabiner. To save me having to explain the TwinGate system, please see this video: which explains the various ways you can use the karabiner. Personally I have found the TwinGate system a little fiddly compared to other karabiners, the idea of having to fiddle one gate up, whilst holding the other open also, is exactly as annoying as it sounds! At 79g it is lighter that the Magnetron, however it is worth bearing in mind that the TwinGate is is smaller than the Magnetron, which would account for the extra weight. I would also add at this point that the TwinGate has a much smaller gate opening, owing to its double gate system, so don't rely on being able to easily clip multiple clove hitches, large knots etc onto the TwinGates. One massive plus for the TwinGate however is the cost, at £11 each for the Mega or Sigma, you can buy 2 TwinGates for each Magnetron. The question is, would you want to? For me, no, no I wouldn't. I just don't like the TwinGate system, it's fiddly, and goes against the reflexes I have built  up over 10 years of climbing, my reflex isn't to open 2 gates at once, my reflex is to do **something** which opens the gate, however that **something** is a single action, and doesn't involve doing 2 seperate things! Perhaps it is just me, at £11 it's worth you trying it for yourself and not taking my word for it. I will persist with the TwinGate system, perhaps in time it will grow on me.....

Return to duty! Birchen Edge trip Jan 2015

Emma gearing up!
Well it's been a long time since I wrote anything on here, in fact May 2012 was the last time I took the time to write anything on my blog. Why the long absence? I suppose in part it was due to going into teaching, the long 60 hour weeks, endless marking, and copious amounts of planning left little time for a social life, or even anything resembling fun, I lost interest in climbing, mountains, gear and many other things I had previously loved. Recently however I have rekindled my love of the outdoors, due in no small part to meeting Emma, who is not only the most incredible person I have ever met, but also the source of my current outdoors revival. Me and Emma made an agreement; I would learn to ski, and she would learn to lead climb. So to that end we set out to Birchen Edge in the Peak District, in search of Emma's first lead climb. Despite the snow in the Peak District the conditions weren't too bad, if a little cold! After arriving, me and Emma did some last minute gear placement practice, before Emma decided on climbing "Stokers Wall" a VD located on Stokers Wall. Em geared up and
Concentrating face!
zipped up the initial part of the climb, placing a couple of pieces of gear as she did. Towards the top it appeared there were a couple of tricky moves, but despite this Emma climbed up the final part of the climb and finished. It was only later that we discovered the reason for the tricky crux moves towards the top was that she had in fact climbed onto "Stoked" an S 4a climb, oops! But I was incredibly proud to see Em almost effortlessly climb a Severe for her first ever lead, Emma was naturally very happy to have her first lead out of the way, and we can now work towards getting all the leads she requires for her SPA training in April, something which we will both look forward to. For those of you who are interested in reading more about Emma's adventures, she now has a website/blog which can be found at . We are heading out with a group of cadets on Sunday 8th Feb, so
Stoked S 4a
hopefully we will be able to squeeze a few leads in during that trip too! So Emma has been working hard on her leading what have I been doing on my side of the deal? Well I've had a few ski lessons, and aside from the fact I'm terrible I'm doing ok! I managed to zip across the entire slope, and the ski lift and wind up crashing on the tubing range however, but I will keep trying and we shall see how I go. Me and Emma have a number of trips this year, through the cadets and on our own, including both America and Morocco (Toubkal), so expect to see a fair bit more action on here than you have for the last 2 years. For those of you who have continued to visit, thank you very much. I haven't forgotten about the gear believe me! I will be reviewing the Black Diamond Magnetron, Grivel TwinGate karabiners, and SPOT GPS tracker system over the course of February so stay tuned!