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Mammut Belay Chain: Strong Personal Tether for Anchoring

Posted on: August 10, 2016


The Mammut Belay Chain [Photo] Stewart M. Green

MSRP: $39.95

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The Mammut Belay Chain is a beefy personal tether composed of interlocking sewn loops. Along with climbing guides Brian Shelton and Jim Waugh, I tested the Mammut tether on over 100 pitches at the Garden of the Gods, Shelf Road, Pikes Peak, Turkey Rocks and other central Colorado crags. We used the chain in a wide variety of scenarios, including clipping onto bolt anchors, gear anchors, equalized master points at belays, and anchors for multiple rappels.

The links on the Mammut chain are of two different sizes, unlike those made by Metolius, Sterling, and Black Diamond that use six links of the same size. The first three links are 11 inches long, and the last three links are 3.5 inches long. These differing lengths allow you to attach to different anchors at a belay station. Each link is rated with a tensile strength of 24 kN, much higher than that of sewn slings and carabiners. That amount of link strength, however, is overkill since it's nearly impossible to generate that amount of force in a climbing fall.

Bluemlisalp traverse above Kandersteg, Bernese Alps. [Photo] Abacus Mountain Guides The Mammut Belay Chain with links of two different sizes. [Photo] Stewart M. Green

The chain's high breaking strength of 22kN is similar to that of other personal tethers, while the tensile strength of each ring is 24kN. The Metolius PAS 22 and the Black Diamond Link Personal Anchor System are both rated at 22kN, while the lightweight Metolius Alpine PAS is 14kN. When girth-hitched to your harness, it's stronger than any other gear on your trad rack. The belay chain is constructed with a round-coiled Dyneema core and covered with an abrasion-resistant sheath, which increases the tether's durability and life if you're climbing lots of pitches.

The Mammut Belay Chain weighs 3 ounces, slightly less than the 3.3 ounce Metolius PAS 22, and is 120 centimeters in length. This is a good length since it's easy to clip to most anchors, but not so long that it's difficult to carry on the side of your harness. I wore the chain girth-hitched to my harness tie-in loop and clipped to a rear gear loop.

The big problem with the Mammut Belay Chain is its bulkiness. The chain, until it is broken in, is stiff and awkward to use. Both Shelton and Waugh complained that the links didn't lie flat against their harnesses, often tangling on cam lobes and occasionally clipping onto racked quickdraws. Other tethers, like the Metolius PAS and Black Diamond Link Personal Anchor System, are made with flat material so they are less bulky.

It was difficult to figure out the varied anchor clip-in configurations of the Mammut tether without consulting the accompanying directions. The different-sized loops make it easy to equalize two pieces of gear at a belay, but we rarely used it to clip into multiple trad anchors. Instead we used long slings or a cordelette to equalize the anchors, and then clipped one of the chain loops into a locking carabiner on the master point. The chain, made of static Dyneema, doesn't stretch to absorb a fall, and should not be used in dynamic situations.

Personal tethers were designed for clipping into anchors after climbers became aware of the dangers of using a daisy chain. Daisy chains should be used primarily for aid climbing because they are designed to support static body weight only, and should never be used as an anchor point or for equalizing an anchor. Even a short fall on a daisy chain can pop the pocket and lead to failure. A personal tether is best for clipping into anchor points, either at a belay ledge, while rappelling, or even when hanging on a piece of gear. While using a sling for this purpose works fine, a tether with sewn links allows you to tie snugly into anchors. Plus, if you want to extend a simple 2-foot sling, then you have to add another sling to the system, which usually makes the system too long. When I guide clients on short routes, I usually use a 2-foot sling as their tether. But on multipitch routes and alpine routes, I prefer to use a tether with sewn links.

Pros: Strong; convenient for quick anchoring; durable.
Cons: Doesn't stretch with poor fall absorption; bulky.

Rating:

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Comments
nopants

I find this review quite poor for a few reasons:

1) "Each link is rated with a tensile strength of 24 kN, much higher than that of sewn slings and carabiners." 10% is "much higher" ?

That amount of link strength, however, is overkill since it's nearly impossible to generate that amount of force in a climbing fall." What Roel says is true (even if obviously one could argue that if the 24 kN tensile strength are required, your will break you back anyway...)

2) "It was difficult to figure out the varied anchor clip-in configurations of the Mammut tether without consulting the accompanying directions." I could not agree less. It takes a little bit of practice to use efficiently, but isn't that the case for most climbing gear? How can that be a con - argument? The main point here is: The Mammut tether cannot by used in a way that severely reduces its strength the way it can happen with the BD daisy chain (by clipping 2 or 4 (etc.) loops into the same carabiner). This is the main advantage of the Mammut tether, that you can use it in whichever way you want, and that, if used intelligently, it provides numerous options with relatively few loops...

3) "Even a short fall on a daisy chain can pop the pocket and lead to failure." Not if you only clipped into one loop... Or three loops. I wonder why the author did not coherently compare different tether set-ups and gave the pros and cons.

4)"The different-sized loops make it easy to equalize two pieces of gear at a belay, but we rarely used it to clip into multiple trad anchors." It wasn't designed for that purpose, I think.. There are many ways to intelligently equalize anchors, a daisy chain is not one of them.

Re: the photo that shows the "anchor": That anyone would post that photo is unbelievable (unless as a picture that shows how not to do it).

Among all the beautiful stuff one can read by browsing the Alpinist.com website, this review is an outlier that will hopefully soon be either edited or removed...

2016-08-16 09:42:04
Roel

I am sorry to say that I am appalled by the inaccuracies contained in this review. Especially as some of the comments not only exhibit a misunderstanding of climbing gear, but are downright dangerous.

"Each link is rated with a tensile strength of 24 kN, much higher than that of sewn slings and carabiners."

Actually it is more or less the same as sewn slings (22 kN) or carabiners (24 kN, when properly loaded). It is however, as stated in the review, much higher than that of the individual pockets on a daisy chain (~4 kN).

"That amount of link strength, however, is overkill since it's nearly impossible to generate that amount of force in a climbing fall."

This is a very misleading statement at best. It could be possible to generate such forces when climbing multi-pitch routes. Specifically, when taking a fall factor 1 or higher fall whilst tethered directly to an anchor (which is what these slings are designed for). Even these so called high strength systems could break, if you do not keep them under tension (hence the different pockets to be able to adjust the length).

The physics is explained in this article by DMM from 2010:

dmmclimbing.com/knowledge/how-to-break-nylon-dyneema-slings

I would have expected Alpinist to be aware of this information 6 years after it was made public. To put out a product review that includes the quote above is, in my opinion, irresponsible.

2016-08-13 11:22:48
chewtoy

Why don't climbers understand physics?

The anchor shown in the photo is not equalized

in anyway or form.

in addition

The angle between the two pieces is to great.

The lower piece is not placed correctly.

The author does understand that these PAS are misleading because they are not designed to equalize anchors at all, yet fails to ding this company and others for misleading the public into thinking they are.

oh look a wolf

2016-08-10 15:01:19
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