Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Spinner

All this spring I tested the Black Diamond Spinner set-up for leashless ice tools. I went mostly leashless a couple of years ago, but I’ve always worried about dropping a tool on big climbs. In fact, I’ve had a couple of scary bobbles. But I haven’t been able to buy a commercial tether in the States—Grivel made one, but I’ve yet to find it at a shop—and I’m too inept to make my own. The Spinner, which will be available this fall, is a sweet solution to the leashless dilemma. It girth-hitches to your belay loop with a 360° swivel device to minimize tangles, and it’s outfitted with easy-to-use clips for your tools and bungied tethers that extend to full arm’s reach for high placements.

The Spinner really eased my mind on long mixed climbs in Rocky Mountain National Park and Chamonix. I could climb quicker without having to worry every second about dropping a tool, and sometimes I’d let one tool hang from its tether while I fiddled with gear or bare-handed a move. Only occasionally did the tethers get in my way, and now and then I had to untwist them, but I think this is just a matter of learning how best to use such tethers—it’s not a flaw of the Spinner set-up. Plus, the tethers are rated to 2kN—that’s probably not enough to hold a fall if your feet cut out and you drop hard onto your tool, but it’s more than enough for body weight, which does offer a measure of comfort.

The Fang grips that I’d installed on my old Viper tools covered the clip-in holes, so I had to thread a loop of thin nylon tape behind the Fangs as clip-in points; they’re ugly, but they work fine. Newer Viper and Cobra tools don’t have this issue.

All in all, the Spinner is a great simple tool at $49.95—a total bargain for the peace of mind it offers to leashless climbers.

4 comments:

Jeff said...

I saw these at the Ouray Ice Fest this year. I'd just made my own for about $10 and these are $50? They do look lighter and smaller than mine, and I like the swivel. I might have to get some anyway!

AlpineEssence said...

These are great, and I have had success and ease with them in the mountains as well. Now we need the fusions outfitted with a clippable hole.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Like you I have 1st gen Vipers, and have yet to climb long routes leashless due to fear of dropping a tool. How did you get the webbing past the Fang? When I mount my Fangs I'd swear I couldn't get anything larger than 1 - 2 mm cord threaded through the clip hole...

Dougald MacDonald said...

With a bit of work, I could fit super-thin webbing—the kind used for tie-offs and hero loops in aid climbing—inside the Fang attachment. This webbing is about half an inch wide and very thin and flexible. It's not super-strong, but neither is the tool's spike or the Spinner itself. I'll probably have to replace the webbing every season, but it's a decent solution for a Scottish Yankee like me.