[A note on cams in general: Non-climbers could live a lifetime without ever needing a cam device. For a climber, though, it is an essential piece of equipment used to protect against the consequences of a fall. Cams are a type of protection device placed on rocks as temporary, removable, non-defacing (and thus “clean”) anchors while climbing. Spring-loaded and controlled with a “trigger,” cams are designed to expand and grip the rock securely, thus protecting against a climber’s potential fall.]
Inventor Tony Christianson first came up with the brilliant idea for a double axle cam, teaming up with Chouinard Equipment (now Black Diamond) in 1987 to produce the first Camalot (Black Diamond’s registered trade name for the C4).
The double axle design of the Camalot created a range of placement and strength unequaled by any other camming device—pivotal advantages that are still preferred today. Additionally, they were the first cams with a greater cam angle—a small but significant adaptation.
The Camalot continues to evolve and has undergone some major innovations in the past 25 years. The first generation Camalots were pretty hefty. The C4, or 3rd generation Camalot, is a significant advance in design. They are 30% lighter than the original, offer a larger expansion range, and, with the cable loop trigger and smoother action, they are more flexible for quicker and easier placement.
The evolution of successive generations of Camalots shows remarkable adaptation, continued fascination with the original principle of active camming, and worldwide acceptance on the hardware rack. As climbing techniques develop and climbing routes get harder, demand for innovative equipment becomes even greater.
New materials and manufacturing processes along with endless refinement in design and function have made it possible for the gear industry to keep pace with the modern climber. Unless, perhaps, it is the climber who keeps pace with new technological advances? We’ll leave that question for you to decide.