Image: Omega Pacific, Link Cam 1
By: Mike Kimmel
The Omega Pacific Link Cam is a unique entry in the field of traditional climbing protection. In general, traditional climbing can be more challenging than sport climbing or bouldering because placing gear requires more mental acuity in determining the best pieces to use for protection as well as ensuring they are properly placed. When attempting to onsight a traditional route, the gear chosen is an essential aspect of success or failure and can dictate how far you must run out the rope between pieces.
Most climbers grow accustomed to certain types of camming devices, partially based on ability to memorize the fit of the protection to the size of the crack. For example, if you know which size cam is equivalent to your fist size, it makes choosing the piece of gear to protect those sections of a rock climb much more efficient.
Image: Omega Pacific
Almost all cams are designed to protect a specific, small size range – by having two opposing lobes that can be retracted using a trigger, the climber can release them in a crack so that the force of opposition holds the gear in place. Where the Link Cam shines is in its ability to divide further into a second range – by pulling the trigger further, the cam divides into four smaller lobes that can be placed into a crack. Essentially, each Link Cam serves the role of two normal cams. For onsight climbing where the protection may not be well-known, this feature is amazing. It also makes it possible to go deeper into cracks when placing protection, because the four-lobed position is also longer than a regular cam placement. Irregularities further back in cracks can be utilized, especially with smaller pieces of protection.
Image: Omega Pacific, Link Cam .75
The only hesitation I’ve felt about the Link Cam is the weight – the feature that allows the cam to double its size range also makes it significantly heavier than a normal cam. In situations where the protection size is clearly known (for example, splitter cracks in Moab or Escalante Canyon), the ability to change sizes on the fly is unnecessary, and results in simply having extra weight. At the same time, if climbing a splitter crack where the same size is repeatedly needed, this also offers an easy way to gain an extra piece of protection if you have the corresponding larger Link Cam.
Despite the extra weight, Link Cams are a great way to begin building a traditional climbing rack, and a solid supplement to any traditional climbers cache of gear – the same way in which quality climbing shoes can improve performance, the ability to place gear more efficiently and quickly enhances climbing ability. However, because Link Cams cover a larger range of size, there are fewer pieces to choose from. Currently Omega Pacific Link Cams are offered in four sizes (and colors – purple, green, red, yellow) that cover .53” to 2.51”.