When Ray Jardine was developing his original spring loaded camming device (SLCD’s) in the early 1970’s, the name ‘Friends’ was used by his climbing partners when querying whether he had this revolutionary protection device with him. The device was kept under wraps for years while Ray perfected it and the name stuck.
30 years on the SLCD is still a trusted, must-have and sometimes sacred friend that has gotten many climbers out of a lot of sticky situations. To even think about not having SLCD’s on your rack would scare the bejesus out of most modern climbers. Cams are simply the most expensive, most important and most desired piece of kit on any climber’s rack.
The Wild Country Technical Friend is the original cam and over 30 years the cam has been developed and improved through better design and materials but the basic camming angle (13.75 degrees) has remained the same.
Keep your Friends close...
Today, the Wild Country Technical Friend is a lean, mean, protecting machine. Constantly evolving and getting lighter the 2006 model is one of the best camming devices you can use.
Technical Friends come in the tiny size 00 to the absolute ‘monster off-width protector’ size 6. An absolute huge range that will protect just about any crack you can throw yourself at. The quality of the construction is top notch and the detail in each cam is obviously of the highest standard. Anyone who uses Friends knows how simply nice they feel when in your hand.
The modern Technical Friend cam head and dyneema sling is colour coded to match making the selection of the right cam a breeze when pumped out of your mind and needing that vital bit of gear. The trigger mechanisms have also been slightly extended to give more ‘reach’, making placements (& retrieval) in deeper cracks that bit easier (NB. Don’t overcam when placing as 1. It annoys the hell out of your second 2. It can rip easier in less grippy rock when weighted 3. You may lose it as it can be incredibly hard to get out)
So what about in use and in abuse. Well, my first cam was a Wild Country Technical Friend 0.5, it was given as a prezzie 5 years ago, has caught me on a number of occasions and is still one of the first pieces of kit on my harness when racking up.
In practice, Friends are easy to use in whatever situation you get yourself into. The colour coding is bright and very easy to recognize which does make a big difference in tight situations or on a crowded harness. They’re incredibly light for their size and do make a weight saving when you have a full rack compared to their BD cousins.
The trigger bar is wide enough so that fingers don’t slip off when pulling the bar back, while the thumb stop on the back of the stem also makes it easier to handle and place. These simple design features are indeed basic but make a big difference when actually placing a piece.
The flexible stem makes the cam more versatile, allowing it to be used in horizontal placements more safely. The classic Forged Friends can be used in this way as well but the climber needs to know the 'Gunks tie-off' method and thus the flexible stem is more user-friendly, especially for beginners.
And in the biggest test - yes, they will catch you! As long as you place them correctly you can fall on these from a great height and continously (user certified!!).
For those going further afield and need to keep their kit in top condition, frayed or broken triggers on Friends can be field-maintained in the ranges 00 to size 4’s.
One of the things I notice with Friends is that the trigger cable stiffens and catches more than on other cams I use. Sometimes this means one of the cam heads may be rotated slightly the wrong way or caught in the actual trigger wire. This can obviously be rectified with a little patience but it’s worth checking your cams BEFORE you step off the ground.
Other similar issues is that the steel/nylon stem can sometimes twist a bit with prolonged use. Again, not a huge problem as long as you notice while racking up and it can be returned to its natural position with a bit of ‘persuasion’ and cleaning.
Wild Country Friends are the original cam and they are still a must for any climber - be they a beginner on their first lead or a seasoned pro on their latest project.
Their lightweight, user-friendliness and high strength and durability still make them a ‘friend’ to any climber.
Designed and constructed in the UK.
Find out more about Wild Country Friends. Understand how to maintain them correctly, how to place them safely and how cams actually work at the Wild Country Website.
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