Background

The aim of this website is to track developments in rock climbing equipment through a blog, and explore the feasibility of creating a lightweight composite carabiner. This composite carabiner study is available in the Composites section or as a pdf here.

In rock climbing and mountaineering there is a strong focus on reducing the weight of all equipment. By reducing the weight of equipment a climber will expend less energy working against gravity and will thus be able to climb further and faster. In modern alpine climbing this has been taken to extremes, with climbers carrying minimal food and water, inadequate sleeping equipment and a reduced amount of fall protection equipment [1].

The drive for weight reduction has led to incremental developments in climbing fall protection. Carabiner manufacturers have reduced weight by removing material whilst modifying their designs to maintain strength and stiffness. The result is a general design trend moving from solid oval or circular cross sections to 'I-beam' style cross sections, where material has been removed in the vicinity of the neutral axis (figure 1). The lightest carabiners in use today use high strength 7075 series aluminium alloy with a T6 temper [2].

Left: 85 g Right: 52 g. Carabiner images reproduced from www.dmmwales.com.