Gear that is no longer
I have this red Metolius Powercam that I can’t climb without. It’s the older generation with the annoyingly small thumb loop and the nylon sling with black stripes. It was made before Metolius started putting those stupid colored dots on the cam lobes and it’s slightly wider than the newer models. My green C4 is lighter and my orange Alien is much narrower, but I still choose the good old red Powercam every time. I can’t even remember all of the times I’ve fallen on it and I never worry. I think it’s the only piece I have that I actually enjoy falling on.
Spend enough time climbing in a pair of shoes, or just have a really good weekend of sending in them and you’ll swear to everyone that they are the best shoes in the world. Or maybe it’s those offset nuts that just seem to fit everywhere. We all fall in love with certain pieces of gear and maintain that we will climb better if we have it with us.
But what happens when you can no longer find the gear you’ve grown to love? What will you do? How can you possibly go on climbing hard without those shoes?
This has been happening to climbers since the beginning. Climbing gear is so specialized and personal that a lot of things will inevitably be discontinued.
If you pay any attention to eBay or Mountain Project, you’ve probably seen CCH Aliens selling for up to $100 dollars PER CAM! That’s used gear going for nearly two times the retail price! CCH has had numerous quality control issues that have led to one major recall and tens of thousands of internet opinions about the safety of their cams but climbers still drool over Aliens as if they were made of gold.
Do Aliens work better than other cams? Are they magic in some way? Read enough internet forums and you’ll find people who think that they are!
But the real reason that they sell is because they are no longer in production. CCH has shut down, and even though you’ll hear rumors at the crag about Madrock or some Spanish guy buying the company, the reality is that if you want to have a set of Aliens in your pack, you’d better work some overtime next month!
Acopa is another company that no longer exists. The late John Bacher had a way with shoes, much like he had a way with the granite walls of Yosemite Valley. He just knew what worked. Acopa made amazing shoes that were stickier and more comfortable than anything else on the market. The Merlins in particular, must have been made just for my foot! Sure they were expensive and yes the rubber wore out a bit faster than other companies, but they fit better than a glove and I really do climb harder in them!
When I found out that they were no longer producing shoes I bought five pair! FIVE PAIR of shoes! Assuming I get one or two resoles per pair, they will last me for years! But I still get nervous about the day that I can no longer lace up the Acopa Merlin. Will I be able to go on climbing? Maybe I’ll just have to stick to limestone, since I use the Pontas for that. I better get all my granite climbing in soon!
Everyone freaked out when Five Ten discontinued the Dragon and there was a period in time between HB and DMM offsets that we all wondered what we’d use to protect pin scarred routes, but that gear has made a comeback. Even Wired Bliss is making cams again. There were enough people out there that wanted that stuff… needed that stuff. Maybe we will see the same thing with Aliens; there sure is a cult out there that would love to see them back in production.
But I’m mighty scared of the day that I wear though my last pair of Acopas. It doesn’t look like they will be back. While losing Acopa could never compare to losing an amazing person like John Bacher, it is going to hurt pretty bad.