How do you protect the widest, nastiest cracks at the crag? If you’re Evan Deis you invent a new mega-size cam anchor design.
Invented more than 30 years ago, spring-loaded camming devices changed the game of rock climbing by offering an easy-to-place, solid anchor that fits inside a crack. Climbers clip a rope to a cam, and if they fall the device is made to exert force against the rock, most of the time staying securely in place.
Cams are made now by a few companies, but almost none are large enough for cracks called offwidths, which are a challenging genre of the sport where you squeeze and squirm half-inside the rock to gain upward progress.
Among Biggest Cam Built
A new cam by a Denver mechanical engineer, Evan Deis, is among the biggest ever built. We were tipped off by Pamela Shanti Pack, a pro climber who specializes in offwidth cracks. She is testing Deis’ prototypes on offwidths around the West.
Cracks up to about 1 foot wide can be protected with Deis’ cams. They come in 9- and 12-inch sizes, and they will soon be sold for about $200.
Deis has no website but has filed Bonobo Industries LLC and will soon be in business. For now, he says “each cam is made individually by hand in my shop at work. Lobes are cut on a CNC-controlled waterjet.”
Cam Design Details
The original lobes were built with 6061-T6 aluminum, an industry standard. The next set of lobes will be cut from aircraft grade 7075-T651.
Deis says the new alloy is as light as 6061 and it has twice the yield strength. The cam stops, axles, and stems are 18-8 stainless steel. The springs are hand-wound from a 36-inch section of piano wire.
Overall weight is 813 grams for the 9-inch and 972 grams for the 12-inch model.
For anyone looking to more safely climb wide cracks, the Bonobo Industries product could be a boon. There are products on the market to protect wide cracks, including Big Bros and Valley Giants, which have been around for a few years.
Deis offers a new design. He has purchased the raw materials for the next 25 builds and will be making the cams one by one over the coming weeks.
Says Shanti Pack, “They will be the best thing to happen to offwidth climbing, ever.”