The tricam, is one of the most underused pieces of climbing protection in the UK. People who know how to use them, love them. Most know it exists, but don’t know what it looks like. For the ones that do, they find it a little weird or scary piece of gear, a bit like the clown from the film ‘IT’.
Invented by Greg Lowe in 1973, and can be used as passive and active protection. The name ‘Tricam’ comes from its camming action, and the three points it touches on the rock when placed. They are very well suited to pockets, awkward or narrow cracks, pods, placed either horizontal or vertical. Due to their narrow heads, they are able to fit where cams cannot. If you are a winter climber, you ought to have a set of tricams, as these are invaluable in iced-up cracks.
As good as they are, your second will be cursing your name in vain as they try to remove your well-placed tricams. Often, two hands are necessary to remove these, especially if these have been fallen on, as the pointy bit of the tricam bites into the rock very well.
There are currently only two companies that produce the tricam, one is CAMP, the other is Rock Empire. I’m not aware of any other company manufacturing these. The main difference between the two is that CAMP produces Tricams with a nylon loop, whereas Rock Empire’s Abalaks (their name for the tricam set) have metal wire loops. Both have their benefits and disadvantages.
Personally, I think that the tricam is an invaluable piece of trad climbing protection, and certainly worth investing in. Cheap, lightweight and very versatile.
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