Wild Country is soon changing the official product lifetime. The potential lifespan of metal products is unlimited; however, since the effective lifespan depends on multiple factors we recommend replacing these products after maximum ten years. Under extreme conditions the lifespan can be reduced to a single usage.
So if one climbed every other day, WC recommends reslinging your cams every six months? A service not currently offered in Europe.
The guidelines just don't seem to relate to how people actually use their gear. My sense is that most climbers would reasonably expect to use their gear regularly (say, up to three times per week during the season, tailing off as it gets wetter) and go 5 years at least before even thinking about replacing cam slings, whilst many climbers would expect longer that that. I feel like this either needs a less conservative set of guidelines or some context as to why lifespan has been calculated as being so short.
What is "usage"? Carried up, but not placed? Placed but not fallen on? Placed and fallen on? Used to build a belay? Used to build a belay that is then used to haul an injured second?
Exactly, my camalots are 8 years old and will be reslung this winter. To suggest that they need to be reslung every 1-3 years as per their matrix is ridiculous, particularly as they dont offer that service.
Once a month = 5 years
More times a month = 3 years
Every week = 1 year
If you're climbing every week, just consider dropping one session a month and your cams will last three times as long!
That's a new harness every 9 months for a typical Tues, Thurs, Sun climber.
Only 10 years shelf life for synthetic fibres when properly stored in a dry, cool and dark place away from acids and other degrading agents? I don't think there is evidence for such a claim. The reason why manufacturers state a shelf life in the first place is, that they have to according to regulations. Probably to be on the safe side, they (not only WC) seem to have agreed on a maximum 10 years for all soft goods. But maybe they should be given a lifetime according to their chemistry and construction.
The UIAA website has a collection of research and information papers (link below) telling a lot about when and why to retire climbing equipment. TLDR: Nylon slings have a longer in-use lifetime (6-10 years) than dyneema slings (3-5 years) given their chemical and physical properties (Janotte et al. Panorama/DAV, 2015). Ropes have an even longer lifetime (up to 30 years) than slings given their kernmantle construction (Pit Schubert, UIAA Safecom, 2000). The worst enemy of soft goods is, with normal use, abrasion against rock, top roping and abseiling - and severe falls (> FF 1). UV radiation play role, but mainly for (semi)permanent installations like abseil tat. And then of course acids, rock falls and sharp edges which are absolutely detrimental.
Arse covering in the extreme!
> So if one climbed every other day, WC recommends reslinging your cams every six months? ...
In general, use your own judgement in respect of slings, ropes, and harnesses. Nothing has changed in that respect, and it is generally pretty obvious if they are showing signs of wear.
The encouraging aspect of the announcement is the prospect of a reslinging service.
> The encouraging aspect of the announcement is the prospect of a reslinging service.
Yeah, big woop for the grudging return of a basic service you should be able to take for granted from any decent manufacturer.
A re-wiring service would be good too - I'm sure that was once promised? Presumably commercial suicide?
> Yeah, big woop for the grudging return of a basic service you should be able to take for granted from any decent manufacturer.
'Grudging' defines your reply here.
At a crude market level: if you don't like their stuff, don't buy it.
Well if they were enthusiastic about providing the service I don't think they would have withdrawn it in the first place. There was no mention of that in any PR gubbins at the time, they just let individual customers discover it had gone for themselves after buying their stuff.
At a crude market level: if you want to sell your stuff, offer a comparable level of after-sales care to your competitors.
This would seem to be an own goal for WC. I would think like many who are using kit in a professional capacity and required to follow manufacturers reccomendstions this is is the basis to switch to vendors with longer shelf lives.
I'm not sure about that and had a similar discussion on here recently.
The manufacturing materials are the same across brands. The same alloys, same textiles and manufacturing techniques are used. All comply with the relevant certification bodies.
It could be viewed that WC are showing greater responsibility here.
An instructor/purchaser my baulk at this whilst his customer will likely feel reassured that the safety kit is replaced to such a periodicity. A climber without these commercial ties will make their own calls and be largely unaffected.
Were I a guide/instructor (heaven forbid). My actions would be to:
Incorporate replacement costs into hourly rate.
Use the increased replacement frequency in my marketing.
"Scrap" my old work gear onto my personal rack annually, happy in the knowledge that it was bought through the business and enjoy the tax efficiencies.
Does anyone know what % of gear sales are to guides/instructors etc. Is it sufficient for a manufacturer to lose sleep about?
I must say this thread is fairly typical UKDating. A week ago there was a great long thread about "f*ck WC - they aren't reslinging, it's an outrage!" So they pay attention and announce they are reversing their decision and it's still not good enough. You have comments about "well they should be doing it anyway" and quite honesty I agree with that. But you need to bear in mind that the brand has undergone massive change in the last 7 years. There is not a single person left at the company who was there when it was bought by Oberalp, and as a result it has taken them considerable time to really understand what they need to do. I myself have criticised them really heavily, particularly in the way they have managed the company and I have made my feelings known very explicitly to people within Oberalp who might hold some sway over what's going on. I really hope that this is them beginning to take their users a little more seriously again, so how about rather than being apoplectic with rage about something which really doesn't warrant it, we wait and see what their next move is? I know for certain there is a member of the distribution company here, reading these comments and who is trying to push them in the right direction because otherwise this thread wouldn't even exist. But trust me, directing Oberalp is like trying to wag the dog by its tail. It's not an easy task in the slightest. So have a little faith...
I have forgotten the reasons why but maybe you can help. Why is it that a manufacturer independent of the gear producer be it WC, BD, DMM cannot/hasn't taken on reslinging to rated standards? Is it simply a cost-quality assurance/size of market thing?
In europe its a CE marking liability issue.
As one of those who's said in the past that I will not consider WC cams for professional use because of the lack of a re-slinging facility, I am very pleased to see that they're working on introducing one. And I would like to say that I am grateful to you for pushing Oberalp in the right direction!
I'm a little cautious over the wording: 'we are working on establishing one in Europe' is not the same as 'we are going to establish one' but once the facility is there then WC will very much be back in consideration for me.
As regards the published lifespans: I replace my slings either when I think it's necessary, or when the manufacturer's lifespan expires. I don't have a 'personal' rack and a 'professional' rack! Are the periods given by WC too short? I don't know. In part I think it depends on what they're going to charge and how quickly they can get them turned around.
So for the benefit of the member of the distribution company reading this thread, think about how a working instructor is going to view this. For someone using their cams on a weekly basis, the suggestion that they need re-slinging annually is a tough one; if the job turned around in the space of a week and costs a few quid per cam I suspect it'll be bearable. If they take a couple of weeks and charge £10 a cam, I think that would still push them towards DMM or Totem.
> In europe its a CE marking liability issue.
That's odd, because I have had some of my gear re-slung in Poland, and they are EU-members since 2004. The slings are marked with the appropriate CE/EN numbers, company name (Lhotse) as well as month and year of making.
> That's odd, because I have had some of my gear re-slung in Poland
By the original manufacturer or by another company?
The gear was from various European and American manufacturers, not from the company doing the re-slinging.
> so how about rather than being apoplectic with rage
I'll put my hand up to mildly sarcastic, who on this thread are you characterising as "apoplectic with rage"?
Perhaps you could also link to the "f*ck WC - they aren't reslinging, it's an outrage!" thread from a week ago that you mentioned, I seem to have completely missed that one and I'm pretty sure I would have remembered it. I saw this one from a wee bit further back, but it can't possibly be this one that you're describing there can it? https://www.ukhillwalking.com/forums/gear/wild_country_gear_short_lifespan-720475?v=1#x9222987
Yeah that's the one. Although there is this one two with people saying "don't touch WC! They don't resling!" https://www.ukhillwalking.com/forums/gear/buying_new_cams_-_advice_needed-722540
Look, all I'm saying is that there's been a few recently and I think it's worth noting that they are doing something about it. And I might have been paraphrasing but you know how UKC can get a bit witch-hunty at times. The business is not always a straightforward one and I know how much chop and change there has been at WC during the last 7 years. DMM and most other companies have had very stable continuous leadership whereas at WC I think the person running it has changed just about every 1.5 years... I really hope they get back on the straight and narrow because the brand is iconic and worth saving if possible...
What each company is willing in terms of liability is up to the individual company. Strictly speaking if you resling a cam and certify it, you are recertifying the entire unit. If it was me, I wouldn't be happy doing that... Someone in Poland? Fine they can crack on with it - that's their (and ultimately you) look out.
If gear companies are trying to make things better for their customers then that's a good thing.
It's odd that we rarely have the same debate with ropes. It tends to rely more on the users judgement.
> That's odd, because I have had some of my gear re-slung in Poland, and they are EU-members since 2004. The slings are marked with the appropriate CE/EN numbers, company name (Lhotse) as well as month and year of making.
What's the EN number on the sling?
EN 566 - and CE 1019
> It's odd that we rarely have the same debate with ropes. It tends to rely more on the users judgement.
Ropes are way more durable than slings because of their construction with a sheath protecting the core. In 2000 Pit Schubert from UIAA Safecom reported to have tested 25-30 year old ropes still passing requirements. I have seen more recent tests on YouTube with similarly old ropes, stiff as cables from use and abuse, that passed too. So, discard your ropes at your own discretion, but maybe with more emphasis on visual and tactile inspection rather than the date of manufacture.
Lhotse have replaced the sling. The "CE" mark on the sling relates to the sling only (EN 566 is the sling standard). It is questionable as to whether this is the appropriate EN number as the regulations imply the sling cannot be separately certified, it is the unit in it's entirety that counts. Lhotse may say as they are not the original manufacturer of the entire unit, they can just re certify the sling, but I don't think that would hold any water against the regs.
If you return the unit to WC, they are required to certify the unit to EN 12276, the frictional anchor standard, as they have to "re-certify" the unit in it's entirety. They don't have the wiggle room Lhotse may believe they have.
Just because Lhotse have put the CE/EN numbers on their products, doesn't mean they are right. It would be interesting to see VVUU's certification documentation.
> Ropes are way more durable than slings because of their construction with a sheath protecting the core.
What's the implication here? That the sheath protects the core from physical abrasion (as it obviously does)? Or that the sheath also protects the core from 'aging' in other ways?
Yes, I was aware that it was the slings only, so maybe "appropriate" was a bit of a stretch, and I don't know if Lhotse are in line with the Czech certifying body. But apparently they re-sling climbing gear on a routine basis, mainly for local customers. The mixed nylon/dyneema slings and bar tack stitching looks and feels up to standard.
The gear I sent them was some pre-standard Camp (Chouinard) Hexentrics with water knot tied slings, HB Wales Quadcams and Quadratic with sewn slings and a few "newer" Rock Empire Robot cams with sewn extendable slings. All in all, it was way overdue to re-sling the bunch..!
Yes, the sheath protects the core from abrasion and UV-radiation. And contrary to common belief, the sheath also prevents dirt entering the core. I know because we use retired climbing ropes when equipping our local crag, and the oldest ones we have trashed for several years. When cutting them up, the core is white as snow!
The only people allowed to repair or modify PPE are the manufacturer or their appointed agents anyway.
Maybe you can answer then... Given dmm and bd will explicitly direct you their out of country reslinging service how does this fit with the standards? and why don't dmm or wc simply set up a trading company and do it all in the UK but through an offshore company in states or wherever who contracts the actual work back to the oem
> I don't know if Lhotse are in line with the Czech certifying body.
Czech or Polish? Do Lhotse have a website or something? Would you mind sending me details? I have some bits & bobs I've been contemplating sending off to the USA for new slings (but a bit put off by the cost of the postage and the time it takes).
I got embroiled in some lengthy debates about this a while back, it took ages for some very knowledgeable posters here (Jim Titt among them) to convince me that the PPE regs do indeed prevent someone from replacing the sling and then certifying the sling alone (as opposed to the entire unit). It isn't immediately obvious how they do, if you've a mind to interpret them differently.
Those regulations intended for industrial PPE really serve us recreational climbers badly in this case. If they've decided that there's wiggle room to interpret those regulations differently, or just to ignore them completely that's fine by me as long as they're a reputable maker of slings and the slings themselves are as they ought to be.
The company doing the re-slinging, Lhotse is Polish, the certifying body VVUU, galpinos lead my attention to, is Czech.
Good luck with google translate. One of my friends is a Danish/Polish climber and she made the arrangement for me. I have one gripe with their work though: Apparently the one sitting at the sewing machine is colourblind. Don't to expect them to pay attention to any colour coding...!
> Yeah that's the one. Although there is this one two with people saying "don't touch WC! They don't resling!" https://www.ukhillwalking.com/forums/gear/buying_new_cams_-_advice_needed-722540
Hm.. the merest hint of exaggeration in your characterisation of the tone of the comments there too I see..
> Look, all I'm saying is that there's been a few recently and I think it's worth noting that they are doing something about it. And I might have been paraphrasing but you know how UKC can get a bit witch-hunty at times.
Fair comment. But it's a bit much to expect rapturous applause for the return of a service that really should never have been axed in the first place, especially when they haven't actually done it yet. The odd "Well, it's about time!" just has to be taken on the chin I think, and it's hardly witch-hunty to mention to prospective buyers the current difference in after-sales service between, say, a DMM cam and a WC one.
Nor, since you mention the 'brand', which to my mind means something more than the name alone, the deep roots of the one company in Llanberis, and the connection of the other to its Tideswell origins by a financial transaction only - apparently nothing more than the buying and selling of a name, a logo and a few trademarks.
It's a little bit ironic I think, that you're defending WC from the witch-hunty outrage of people like me but by far the most damning thing I think I've read about them on UKC is what you've written on this very thread in their defence. If they're a new company run by new people keen to do the right thing and just finding their way I can support that, good luck to them, but if the name is all that remains of the original company it seems slightly weaselly somehow to be trying to co-opt a sense of nostalgia and the reputation of the original company rather than establishing their own. (Especially having dropped the ball somewhat and tarnished that reputation a little over the re-slinging thing.)
I have no doubt that the product is very good, but honestly I think I'd be more likely to buy a new 'Oberalp Friend' than a 'Wild Country' one.
> Website: www.lhotse.pl
Well, dur - I probably could have googled that.
Thanks for the clarification, and the heads up about colour coding and translation. Maybe I should send my old gear with the fuzzy slings off to the states after all, but it's nice to have another option..
> Hm.. the merest hint of exaggeration in your characterisation of the tone of the comments there too I see..
> Fair comment ... etc. etc. etc.
Christ. You do go on a bit.
Just on this point:
"... the return of a service that really should never have been axed in the first place ..."
Can you remind me/us of the timeline? When did WC first offer a Friend-reslinging service; when did they withdraw it; and what (if any) were the reasons given for the withdrawal? The service isn't something I recall from the very early days of Friends.
> Christ. You do go on a bit.
Yes, I know.
> Can you remind me/us of the timeline?
Oh, you want me to go on even more? Ok..
I don't know when they started doing it, or whether they were the first to do it. But it's the kind of thing that was easy to do back in the day when companies mostly manufactured their own stuff 'in house'. I have no idea if they did it back in the early days, way before the advent of social media. It wouldn't surprise me a bit though if it were possible back then to rock up in Tideswell with an early Friend and just ask nicely.
I worked with a chap back in the early '90s who was too skinny to get a standard Troll Ibexx harness to fit nicely, so he visited the Uppermill factory and they essentially made one to measure for him. That was never a service that they advertised or offered formally, they just did it occasionally when people asked them to because they were nice people and it was easy for them to do. Obviously that was no longer possible when Troll were bought out and the new owners closed the factory down.
As I understand it, mostly from beardy mike's explanations on previous threads, Oberalp discontinued the service when they bought the company because the manufacturing was outsourced and they didn't own the sewing machines or have personnel of their own to do it. Presumably they didn't think it was important, and for all I know they were right about that. The proportion of cams that come back for a new sling was probably very low. (For DMM, BD etc., too.)
Obviously it's not a particularly good look for them to have disappointed customers who tried to use the now non-existent service coming on here (and other social media) to have a whinge about it. Disappointing your customers is never good PR, especially if you've basically just bought the company name to take advantage of existing 'brand loyalty', but I have no idea if it's commercially important to them to offer the service now or whether they're looking to reintroduce it purely because they're nice people and it's something they want to do. Bit of both maybe.
Anyone anywhere can do the re-slinging as long as they are authorised by the original manufacturer to inspect and certify the cam as it is now a "new" product. For anyone but the manufacturer it's hard to see it would be worthwhile as it's a hell of a hassle.
You definitely go on. Blinkin nora.
Oberalp discontinued the service about 2-3 years after they took over the company. They moved sewing to a third party in the far east (most other stuff has been outsourced for much longer than that, whether it was to their then partner DMM, their manufacturing base in the far east or third party manufacturers ( just like just about every manufacturer in the business. It didn’t make sense in their view for them to retain sewing when they would have to employ a skilled sewing machinist for the sole purpose of reslinging. Obviously the new management didn’t fully appreciate the impact this would have. As I said above, trying to direct a large company like Oberalp is sometimes pretty difficult. To me the salient point of this announcement is that they have recognised its importance and if they have implemented the service in North America I see no reason to doubt they will do so in Europe as well.
Yes I have paraphrased and characterised comments, I’m fairly certain I have seen posts by yourself doing similar. I have exaggerated because I simply couldn’t be arsed to go back through the numerous occasions I seen people bad mouthing. So shoot me.
> Exactly, my camalots are 8 years old and will be reslung this winter. To suggest that they need to be reslung every 1-3 years as per their matrix is ridiculous, particularly as they dont offer that service.
Maybe they're suggesting they should just be slung
> In europe its a CE marking liability issue.
Roll on Brexit then
Sorry, I'll go and sit in the corner for a bit, and think about what I've just typed.
> You definitely go on. Blinkin nora.
I thought I was engaging in a discussion, quite politely, in good faith. You know you really don't have to reply if you can't be arsed, let alone match my word count with blether of your own.
> I have exaggerated because I simply couldn’t be arsed to go back through the numerous occasions I seen people bad mouthing. So shoot me.
People "bad mouthing" like me, you mean? Yeah, not going to shoot you, but actually quite resent that.
I also engaged in reasonable discussion. I don’t think I really went that overboard with what I was saying, so I paraphrased, not really pointing the finger at any one individual. You’re the one who has objected to me pointing out that people were giving the brand a hard time (badmouthing) for trying to correct their course. If you want to lump yourself in with them and resent me pointing it out, I don’t really have anything I can say or do about that. It has seemed a fairly consistent thing to do over the years, to give wc a hard time. For example I remember quite a lot of people going to town on them over the nut recall. Forward wind to BD’s recall which was due to their completely botching their QC when they brought production back from the far east, and there was no real hooha. I mean they were sending out slings quite literally stuck together with masking tape. WC basically killed their reputation over 7 nuts which were still on testing strong enough to take a decent lead fall.
As for going on a bit, it was tongue in cheek. But re-read your last post - para 1 is you basically saying you have no idea when they stopped reslinging. Para 2 is you giving anecdotal evidence from 30 years ago about you getting a mate to sew some stuff for you - I can almost guarantee it wouldn’t happen these days due to liability. Para 3 is you misquoting me. Para 4 is you saying they really need to watch their PR when this entire thread is quite literally about them trying to correct an error in they way they operate to improve their customer service. I mean it did go on a bit...
> You’re the one who has objected to me pointing out that people were giving the brand a hard time (badmouthing) for trying to correct their course.
This is the only thread (so far) about them trying to 'correct their course'. You were talking about people badmouthing them in many previous threads. I don't think that's fair. 'Badmouthing' is not just being a bit critical, it's something more akin to slander. I'm fully aware that I can be a bit of an arse on here sometimes, the big woop that brought me in to this thread in the first place was unnecessarily sarcastic really, but I don't think I do that.
> WC basically killed their reputation over 7 nuts which were still on testing strong enough to take a decent lead fall.
I remember a fair bit of whingeing on here over the recall when it all started to drag on a bit, but also a lot of understanding and respect. I got the impression it had actually enhanced their reputation in a way. It was obviously an extremely difficult thing for them to do, and they probably didn't need to do it. Showed enormous integrity I thought.
> Para 2 is you giving anecdotal evidence from 30 years ago about you getting a mate to sew some stuff for you - I can almost guarantee it wouldn’t happen these days due to liability.
No, it was about a mate who got a Troll harness sewn for him by Troll at the factory where they used to manufacture stuff in the UK prior to being bought out by a much larger company.
> Para 3 is you misquoting me.
I didn't quote you at all, incorrectly or otherwise. I credited you for having informed me about stuff in the past, you're clearly very knowledgeable and I appreciate your sharing the knowledge. Sorry I hadn't quite remembered it right, I probably shouldn't have attempted to answer Rob's question. It was a rhetorical question anyway.
> Para 4 is you saying they really need to watch their PR
No, I'm saying they dropped the ball somewhat with their PR in the past. You said as much yourself.
> I mean it did go on a bit...
And here I am going on, and on, yet again. (If you think it's annoying you should try living with it 24/7!)
Really didn't mean to but you hooked me back in, so shoot me, for playing the pot to your kettle.
Thank you for explaining the background. I’m happy Wild Country/Oberalp are now offering a sling replacement service. Shame it took three years but they got there in the end. The ‘built-in obsolescence’ was a deal-breaker for me - see my comment on the original review here. Friends go back on the recommendable gear list.
Mike, a slightly different question: once this is in place, do you know if Oberalp will re-sling a cam if it's more than ten years old? The press release says that they recommend replacing metal components after ten years, and I know that (for example) DMM won't do any of their own cams if they're more than ten years old.
...specifically, is there a chance that my 2007 Tech Friend #5 (which is in very good condition apart from the age) could be re-slung?
> ...specifically, is there a chance that my 2007 Tech Friend #5 (which is in very good condition apart from the age) could be re-slung?
2007, so young and so much yet to experience...
I doubt it very much. I'm going to go out on a limb here and venture that your size 5 tech friend hasn't been used that much. The only way slings really degrade is if they've been used lots... has it been used lots? Bearing in mind that the sling is good for 22kn when new and that most falls will result in a loading less than half that...
> I'm going to go out on a limb here and venture that your size 5 tech friend hasn't been used that much.
Indeed. It only really gets brought out when I know it'll be useful! Probably around 60 outings over the 13 years, and probably only placed 20 or 30 times total.
> The only way slings really degrade is if they've been used lots... has it been used lots? Bearing in mind that the sling is good for 22kn when new and that most falls will result in a loading less than half that...
Fully understood. I am quite happy using it for myself. It's about the only bit of gear I have that must be excluded from my rack when instructing, so a new sling would allow me to use it then. Of course, it's not terribly often I'm instructing on a route that would need it..!
>... It's about the only bit of gear I have that must be excluded from my rack when instructing, so a new sling would allow me to use it then.
I'm interested in the real substance of not being able to use instructing...i understand all the principals but what are the actual consequences...
1. If you use gear beyond manufacturers reccomended shelf life then what is the liability? my understanding is that there would have to be causation i.e. If an incident were to occur then the cause for claim would have to be directly attributed to the actual shortcoming. Specifically the sling or cam would have to break...it would not be relevant if for example if the client got hit by a rock to claim the gear was dated.
2. There is obviously plenty of evidence that sling strength can exceed its rating for many years of use beyond the shelf life (and the contrary) and that regular inspection for damage is the most critical aspect. So while employers might have an employee duty of care and respobsibility to provide in date ppe do you have the same obligation if you are providing it yourself?
3. If you were in a court (which always seems to be the bogeyman story) and I as a lawyer (which I'm not!) asked you if you were a safe climber with good judgement you would obviously answer yes, but then I showed that you used equipment you didn't think was fit for use (through age) for your own climbing... Then I would probably pursue the cause of the incident on your judgement and varying standards etc.
I'm not asking this as personal windup btw...its just that you raised the implications that we all (mostly) adopt the same principal for professional comfort... I just wondered if it actually made any difference or indeed might be contradictory. Reality is, and thankfully, I don't think there are many/enough cases that it ever gets tested.
I'm by no means an expert on this - I am just a lowly RCI - and would love to hear from someone who is!
I remember discussing insurance when I did my training (more than 15 years ago) and it was pointed out that, should a piece of gear fail and subsequently be found to be in use outside of the manufacturer's specifications, you'd be in line for charges of gross negligence. This included going beyond specified lifetimes, but also included things like using gear intended only for aid purposes as fall protection or in anchors. As a self employed instructor the buck stops firmly with yourself.
Fundamentally, I do not wish to end up having to explain (to anyone - judge, coroner or relative) why I was using a piece of gear when the manufacturer said it should have been retired and destroyed. Slings aren't expensive.
Yeah thanks...thats doctrine but it was the reality I am interested in...i suspect this thread has run its course and unlikely to pick up the peer opinion on the reality.
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