Titanium, special alloys, and hardened aluminum have all been favorite choices for rock climbing carabiners in the past. But I’m here to tell you that there is a new material which is rapidly advancing on the rock climbing seen as well. Perhaps you’ve seen the new carbon composite carabiners, along with ice climbing tools made of carbon fibers, and it makes sense that the lighter the equipment is, the greater the performance of the climber.
Today, the top climbers in the world are not only competing for accolades and bragging rights, but they are also competing for extremely lucrative corporate sponsorship. No, it’s not yet at the level of the Tour de France, NBA, NFL, NHL, or European soccer and American baseball but it’s moving up. Of course these carbon composite tools of the sport are not necessarily very cheap. And whereas climbers don’t require as much equipment as in many other sports, what they do have is not free.
Nevertheless, it appears that the sport of climbing is changing, and with it the carbon composite systems and equipment is going to take one more step in reducing its own weight. Carbon Nanotubes are extremely light, and 50 times stronger than steel. When put together with a graphene coating, these devices can be ultra small, and ultra-strong. Indeed the ropes the climbers currently use may also be replaced with woven carbon wire.
Even more impressive is the fact that these new materials can conduct electricity, which can be used to power-up and run micro-recorders videotaping climbing events to later use on YouTube, or sell to gaming companies that can later be used in virtual living room gaming centers. They can also act as antennas, meaning a cell phone signal in the middle of nowhere will be able to go twenty-times the distance, and pick up GPS readings from satellites even in a blizzard snow storm.
Yes, the sport of rock climbing is about to enter a new technological age of advanced materials. It means the climbers will be able to climb faster, and appear to have more strength and agility than ever before. Some things which were once considered impossible, or highly improbable even for the world’s best climbers, will now be possible by any of the advanced climbers.
This will truly separate the men from the boys, but it will also add cost as that weight comes down to almost nil. Indeed, it is my sincere hope that you will please consider all this and think on it. If you’d like to discuss any of the new rock climbing gear, I’d love to hear from you by e-mail, perhaps for a future article.