Karabiners - the vital link

Posted by Ian Hey, BMC Technical Officer 2003-2006 on 02/08/2004
Oops. Broken krab. Photo: BMC.

The humble karabiner has a hard life. Slowly tortured against rock, abandoned alone on routes, stuffed thoughtlessly into bags. Like all things that usually work, they are taken for granted. Until they fail.

Karabiners may be stronger and more reliable than ever before, but despite tougher safety standards, advances in design and stricter quality control systems, they can and do sometimes snap.

And it doesn’t take a dramatic incident for this to happen, it’s all down to that bugbear of climbing equipment - forces. Karabiners are designed to be loaded in a certain way, and if the load is incorrectly applied they can fail from the forces easily generated in common fall situations. If you fall when the gate is open, or with the karabiner loaded over an edge, then you could be in for a nasty shock!

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