Monday, August 27, 2012

Making Carabiners and Climbing Utah

So while I was at Outdoor Retailer in Salt lake City earlier this month I stayed a couple extra days after the show.  I got a tour of Black Diamond and climbed in Maple Canyon.  I got to see Black Diamond gear being made like carabiners and crampons and I got to see them testing everything from ski boots to their new Magnetron locking carabiners.  Maple Canyon was great as well and a completely different type of climbing than anything I am used to on the Frontrange of Colorado.  More on that later.

Below you can see a few different photos from BD.  The entire facility was pretty cool.  They have their hot and cold forge processes downstairs in their factory and I could watch them cranking out parts and finished goods for everything.  One thing that climbers are confused on sometimes is that they think some of BD's cams are made in China.  This is not entirely true.  They are assembled in China, but every part of every Black Diamond C4 and C3 (presumably the X4 too) is made in Salt Lake City Utah, USA.  The cam may be assembled in China, but they are still made in the USA.  A great point that was explained to me was that BD's factory in China has the same type of employees that value time off and climbing/skiing as their counterparts in America.  The employee passion and drive is not like that of other factories in China.  BD said to me "It might as well be another Salt Lake City factory in China."  The second one of these photos is particularly cool because you can see three white touch points working with the carabiner.  Two of these touch each magnet to open the carabiner and the third pushes the gate open.  BD runs this thousands of times for quality assurance.  Very cool to see it in action.

Maple Canyon was a blast as well.  The type of climbing in Maple Canyon is very different from anything I climb on the Frontrange in Fort Collins, Boulder or Golden.  Every hold is a variation of some type of cobble.  On harder routes there may be some type of smaller pinch cobble, but on easier routes you could find extremely large cobble jugs.  The climbing varies from route to route and whether the route is overhung or a slab, but you can find yourself climbing a completely overhung roof with nothing but cobble pinches for holds!  The area is pristine and the rock is in great condition as long as you climb the more traveled routes.  We climbed a few 5.10's and a couple 5.11's for the day.  It was great to have a local showing me around and getting me on some of the best routes in the canyon.  The Box was definitely the coolest area with climbing on each side of a slot canyon maybe 20 feet wide.  The massive cave in the photos below shows one of the largest caves I have ever seen.  It rivals anything I have seen in Rifle and actually reminds me more of Obed or Foster Falls back east in Tennessee.
The extra couple days I spent in Salt Lake City were really fun.  As a climber I have to say walking around Black Diamond was amazing.  It would be great to have a job there and be able to walk through the factory and see everything from carabiners and crampons to hexes and stoppers being made.  To be able to walk into work everyday and know you are a part of something like that and a brand that represents the climbing community would be extremely rewarding.

I hope this post gives a little insight into the inner workings of Black Diamond.  I probably left a few things out, so leave a comment if you have any questions.


Thanks for sharing the insight man. Very cool to hear about the inner workings of a company like BD.

That bunker does indeed remind me of Obed. Ryan and I were at the gym tonight reminiscing about our adventures back in the SE.


Yeah, it was a lot of fun.

Ryan text me that photo of us at Obed. Seems like a lifetime ago.

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