Insights from ITCC gear check

The same that is true for the rest of ITCC this year can also be said of gear check: it ran really smoothly.

It is interesting how this has evolved over the years: the range used to be greater, some competitors would turn up with their equipment well maintained and sorted out, whereas the kit of others was… well, let’s just say: somewhat less so. Over the years this has changed and equipment brought to the table now is by and large in good condition, which I see as a positive development.

We have also worked a lot with the gear inspection techs, trying to ensure consistent decisions on what to pass and what to fail. This is the intent behind the meeting on Thursday evening during which we discuss developments and issues that have arisen in the course of the last year. A further determining factor which allows gear check at ITCC to run smoothly is that we have a very competent group of volunteers who return year for year allowing us to improve continuously by identifying and mitigate issues as they come up. We use a system of A and B inspectors, meaning that less experienced individuals become part of the process as a B inspector, watching and learning from the more experienced A inspector.

Nothing very funky got flagged up in Tampa.

There was one cracked Zillon, a brand-new unit, one month old, hardly used, very puzzling. I say this without any glee whatsoever, on the contrary, I find this Zigzag/ Zillon issue very troubling and will be glad when it is resolved. The owner of the unit was as nonplussed by the crack as we were, the person in question is certainly competent and was simply not expecting this kind of damage after so little use and was therefore not checking checking the device as diligently as maybe he should have… hmm.

Just as a reminder, Petzl offers very clear and unambiguous guidance in this matter.

Other than that the only other thing that struck me is an undifferentiated use of Aramid cordage that is a bit of a concern.

Aramid is great stuff if you are looking for something with a high heat-resistance. However, it is not good for repeated bending, as it is a brittle fibre and does not tolerate UV-light well at all. In an application where it gets used and discarded fairly rapidly, such as in an eye to eye friction hitch sling this is not an issue. In other tools however, e.g. lanyards or false crotches, this exposure become a lot greater due to longer life cycles and therefore a potential issue. The reason I bring this up is that a number of tools were brought to gear check made of Aramid that looked very weary indeed. High-modulus cordage is fantastic stuff but it is certainly worth while considering what characteristics you really want and/ or need, what the exposure duration to UV will be, whether the material will be exposed to heat and then based on that to choose the suitable material – Aramid may be the answer, but a different fibre may prove more suited to the task.

Sorry for the slight fuzziness of the chart, tried to sort it out, but it seems to be beyond me… *sigh*