Carabiner care

If you are a beginner climber and want to ask other climbers any questions - then this is the place to ask.
Post Reply
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:20 pm
Real Name: Edwin van Tonder

Carabiner care

Post by Edwin » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:36 pm

Hi there

I've heard recently that dropping an aluminium crabiner from as little as a metre high can result in hairline cracks and should then be disgarded, even when no cracks are visible to the naked eye. Is this accurate?
Seems a little extreme to me.

Posts: 727
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:59 pm

Re: Carabiner care

Post by pierre.joubert » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:18 pm

Nic le Maitre wrote:Aluminium is quite susceptible to micro-fractures
...only if you have cast carabiners... hands up you over 80 traddies?

Oh microfractures. The thread is still somewhere on here... but anyway, here's how to rid yourself of them:
Ardito Gersen on rec.climbing a few years back wrote:You know I have discovered the truth about dropped gear. It is not microfractures or any other such crap that can cause it to fail. Actually when the gear is dropped the universe has to, for a microsecond, face an incongruent situation. IT expected you to fall, not for you to drop the gear. During that microsecond it takes for IT to adjust some of the common laws of Physics get suspended in a small area around the gear. The gear then does not "exist" anymore. Instead it enters a Schrodinger's Cat state of probable/improbable existence.

It is during that period with the gear quickly fluctuating among dimensions that it becomes possessed by demons. Yes, you have read that correctly. DEMONS!!. They intertwine with the gear and it is those demons trying to get out that cause the so called "microfractures". Man you gotta be really careful because your rack may now be a demon nest. All you can do is:

a) Destroy the gear, to prevent the demons from causing any harm. Dropping it into a volcano seems to be fashionable again due to the influence of major Hollywood productions but I suggest an easier
solution just dig a hole in the ground, put the gear in, cover with an adequate amount of thermite. Ignite a magnesium initiator on top of the pile. Watch the demons burn!

b) Exorcise the demons (please, not exercise, that'll make them fitter). Contact the local representative of the Roman Catholic Church, make sure that the Exorcist, if they send one, is properly authorized by the local bishop. There is only one authorized Exorcist by dioceses and he has to be appointed by the bishop. Wannabe exorcists are likely to compound the problem. If they are unavailable or too busy you can try the Shamanic method described below:

Take off your clothes.

-Use a permanent marker to mark the middle of your belly. But do it a few inches above or below true center: this is to avoid Demons focussing on your center. You will appear to them as a blur and if they try to posses you they are likely to come to the end of you and slip off. Unless they knot your ends first (in that case you're screwed).

-Cover the rest of your body with mysterious signs and inscriptions. They may read things like CE, EN 7306, 22KN, T, DMM, 9, C3, etc... those are there to protect you against the demons entering your body, the more you have the better.

-Cover yourself with lubricant oil, lest you get stuck in a different dimension.

-Using a rope make a circle in the ground around the gear. Drive five expansion bolts into the ground at regular intervals. Now the demons are contained. They would have also taken some of the qualities of the gear and they now hate bolts.

-Light fires around the circle. Attach headlamps to the top of ski poles and direct their beams towards the gear.

-Put a tape of "Macarena" into a jukebox and play in a loop as loud as you can!

-Get drunk and stoned (you do not need instructions for this)

-Run around the circle dancing with a bottle in one hand and an old issue of Rock and Ice on the other chanting the following formula: "Get the f*#k outta my gear you as#@&%es!!" or any other ranting of
your liking, to the rhythm of the music.

-Remember to fart as much as you can . That is to prove to the demons that you are a True Climber (tm). For an explanation of this do a Google search for "farts climber". If possible ignite a few of the
farts (you do not need instructions for this either).

-Keep on drinking!!

-Sh#t into plastic bags and toss them at the gear while crying "MUD BAT!! MUD BAAAAAT!! INCOMING!!"

-Read excerpts from the Rock and Ice mag (this is truly unbearable for the demons)

-Collapse, be taken to the ER. Wake up. Stay in a mental institution for a while. Be released (hopefully)

You can now use your gear without any fear, the demons have been now expelled to the nether regions where they lived before.

I hope you find this helpful, let us know how it all went!


Posts: 727
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:59 pm

Re: Carabiner care

Post by pierre.joubert » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:21 pm

Hey we run a service for recycling microfractured carbiners (at no cost, we'll even rufnd you postage!). If you have any, please PM me and I'll send you the address.

Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:20 pm
Real Name: Edwin van Tonder

Re: Carabiner care

Post by Edwin » Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:15 am

I still don't have a straight answer(I'm new at this,remember).So buying steel, altough adding more weight, would be the better option for us mere beginner noobs?

User avatar
Posts: 3889
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2005 8:31 am
Real Name: Justin Lawson
Location: Montagu/Cape Town

Re: Carabiner care

Post by justin » Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:30 am

Edwin wrote:I've heard recently that dropping an aluminium crabiner from as little as a metre high can result in hairline cracks and should then be discarded, even when no cracks are visible to the naked eye. Is this accurate? Seems a little extreme to me.
Do not buy steel biners to go rock climbing with, they're just too heavy. No one can give you a clear answer to your question and so you will have to read between the lines.

In theory, yes there is a chance you could cause a crack in the biner by dropping it from 1m - however this very unlikely! The only way to check for these cracks is to x-ray them (which is costly).

There is no clear / easy way to know if a piece of gear (any alloy climbing equipment) that gets dropped from a height (that you deem to be damaging) should be replaced (the landing ground can make a difference too e.g. solid rock vs beach sand vs bush).

It really is up to you to make the decision. If you dropped a carabiner from 1 meter and it bothers you to the point where it is constantly on your mind, I say remove it from your rack (rather than worrying about it later when you are 5 meters above it).

As you can see in from this thread, most of the dirtbags.. ehem I mean climbers ;) are keen to accept your freshly '1 meter dropped' biners (knowing that you to the sport) and put them back into service on their own racks. This is comforting to know, yes?

Biners are tougher than you think and manufacturers have to put their disclaimers in as the chance for failure is there.
There is no clear answer for this and each climber must make call on the gear that they drop (bearing in mind that your climbing partner will often be dependant on your gear too.

This come of the web and essentially tells you nothing as well:
During normal use a carabiner is likely to be dropped onto hard surfaces, aluminium alloy carabiners often sustain minor surface indentations and scratches from these impacts and continue to hold falls without failure. The drop height could vary from less than 1 m to hundreds of metres, although a carabiner is unlikely to be reused after a drop of that distance. A composite carabiner might incur defects or delamination from these kinds of impacts. This internal damage would not necessarily be visible [10] to the naked eye and other forms of non-destructive testing (NDT), such as ultrasound, would be required.

If you are still confused and unsure what to do, refer to Pierre's insert above 'Ardito Gersen on rec.climbing'
Climb ZA - Administrator

Posts: 727
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:59 pm

Re: Carabiner care

Post by pierre.joubert » Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:48 am

In summary there are 2 schools of thought:

School 1: Microfractures don't exist in the type of (relatively) soft aluminium alloys used in climbing carabiners. Supporters of this stance point out that the 'myth' started out when an El Cap climber somewhere in the 70's dropped a handled ascender (Petzl jumar) onto the rocks below a pitch, then while using it, the twisting motion of a locker in the lower clip in hole with a small/hairline crack running through it resulted in the footloop connection breaking off. Please note that the technique used to manufacture this jumar was not forging (hot or cold, as is used in most modern aluminium climbing gear manufacture) but rather casting - a process that results in harder but more brittle aluminium. A study or two [citation needed] has found that these cast parts are indeed susceptible to microfractures after an impact force (e.g. dropiing from height onto a hard surface), but nothing on my rack is cast.

As I remember, this climber didn't die (well of that anyway). This however gave rise to the spread of the whole microfracture thing. Most people who'll tell you that your carabiner is fked beacuse you dropped it have never seen a microfracture, in carabiner alloy or any other metals, or even know this little piece of history. Supporters of the first stance say that microfractures are a self-perpetuating fallacy: everyone telling each other how to avoid the dangers of this thing that just about no-one has ever seen. If you google around a bit, and sift through all the bullcrap, you'll find the report a couple of guys wrote about microfractures: they picked up over a hundred carabiners from the base of El Cap, dropped from the numerous routes above. None of them broke under their rated strength.

If you have a cast carabiner, please post a photo and don't use it if you dropped it from height. If you started climbing in this century, chances are you don't have any.

School 2. Crazy people.

There, balanced analysis for you.

Disclaimer: If I die because a microfractured carabiner breaks, don't believe the first part :jocolor: If that doesn't put your mind at ease, I recommend the recipe I posted earlier.

Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:20 pm
Real Name: Edwin van Tonder

Re: Carabiner care

Post by Edwin » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:32 pm

Thanks for the information, It really put things into perspective for me.

My argument is this:If micro cracks where possible from anything under 2 metres, then surely the carabiners would have been bubble wrapped and foam packed and what not, straight from the manufacturer onto the shelf where we buy them from.The best "packaging" is a clear little plastic bag, more likely the carabiner will be hanging from a display hook for anybody to take off,and most probably drop it on the shop floor, then simply putting it back in its place without a thought.
So my "brand new" carabiner went trhough plenty of hands from manufacturer to shop, ect.

Personally, I'll be using mine until I see some clear damage.

Thanks to all for input. :thumleft:

Posts: 1751
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2006 12:32 pm
Real Name: Willem Boshoff
Location: Cape Town

Re: Carabiner care

Post by mokganjetsi » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:47 pm

thread on this same topic: ... =ASC;mh=25;

it is concerning that no manufacturers have addressed the "myth" of hairline fissures, but i think it is to their advantage to not do that.

anyways, nothing a mudbat can't fix hehehe :mrgreen:

Post Reply