Todd Tumolo is an avid ice and mixed climber who lives in Alaska. He has guided in the Alaska Range for the past 9 summers, on Denali and other peaks, and now spends his winters guiding Mt. Vinson in Antarctica. When Todd is not guiding, he can be found climbing alpine routes in the Alaska Range or mixed and ice routes in South Central Alaska. When he is not climbing he is usually in a whitewater boat or traversing one of the many mountain ranges of Alaska.
The Omega Pacific Vulcan Quickdraw is not just a standard lightweight quickdraw. I used these draws all winter in Alaska, clipping gear, ice screws and bolts, and now they are a welcomed addition to my rack for mixed, ice and rock climbing.
The Vulcan Carabiner is light (32 oz) and stronger (26kN<->) than most, if not all, other small wire gate carabiners on the market. Omega has designed a very comfortable quickdraw to hold and to clip with. The arch in the spine is wider than the rest of the carabiner and creates a comfortable spot for either pushing the carabiner with your thumb to clip a bolt away from you while also remaining comfortable while clipping a rope with your index finger wrapped around the spine. Omega has also incorporated a smooth rounded rope spot in the bottom of the carabiner with a wider radius to ease rope drag when paired with a single rope. After using them all winter, with the draws seeing a fair bit of rock rubbing, there is little sign of wear on the dogbone. Overall the design of this carabiner, and ultimately the quickdraw, is comfortable and well-made.
I have never carried “sport” draws for clipping ice screws before this season. I used to stick with all “alpine” draws and fumble with the bottom carabiner to get it in place before clipping. I won’t be doing that anymore. I will most likely have these with me on ice and mixed climbs from now on.
As much as I enjoyed clipping with these draws this winter, they have some slight limitations. Their main disadvantage is they are very small, which can be frustrating in the winter. Most clips were smooth, but when it was cold and I had thick gloves on, these draws had the potential to be cumbersome due to the non-keylock style of the carabiner compounded with small overall size. Clipping bolts and ice screw hangers are one thing, they are simple; but when I was clipping stopper placements in snowy cracks with wet gloves I found myself looking for my other bigger carabiner quickdraws instead of the Vulcans.
The rope spot in the bottom of the carabiner was smooth for a small single rope or for half rope technique, however, they did not work as well while climbing with twin technique. The rope area of the carabiner is small and creates a significant amount of rope drag even when two 7.8mm ropes are clipped, as there isn’t enough room for them to run side-to-side, even on a straight up and down pitch.
The Vulcan Quickdraw proved to work really well for ice and mixed climbing on warmer days, but due to the operational limitations when wearing thick gloves, I would be weary of adding them to my rack for a big alpine climb unless weight was my primary concern. Large alpine lines aside, the Vulcan Quickdraw has been a great addition to my rack of draws. If you are out sport climbing, they are great; short, light, comfortable and quick on the draw.