Wild Country Superlight Rocks
Reviewed by Jon Griffith
My main problem with these superlights is that I’m completely addicted to them. I never leave for the mountains without them and they have been a real lifesaver many-a-times this winter season. In fact I cant get enough of them.
Single Cable Design
As you might have guessed they are…super light. The single cable design as well as a re-engineered head makes these Rocks so light you really wont notice them on your harness. In addition it means that you have half the cables hanging off your harness and therefore a lot less clutter (and that’s important on a full winter rack). When it comes to placing the pro the Rock seat’s much better as you don’t have to worry about two cables potentially levering off something that will unseat the placement. From the second’s point of view, since it is a single cable it is obviously physically attached to the Rock at the top. This means that you can actually use the cable to physically push and pull the Rock out of a tricky placement (on a two cable Rock the wire just doubles back on itself meaning that the Rock is able to feely move up and down the cables). So far so good, and that’s not even the exciting part yet….
The actual head
This is what I got really excited about. Admittedly I was pretty sceptical about them when they came out of the box. After all when you are minimising the heads this much can you really shape them properly so that they are still very effective at seating (safely) into the rock? Well the answer was a resounding yes. Obviously you are limited to using them in small confined cracks but they seat instantly. I often come across shallow placements or pin scars when I am climbing and these are the only things that will fit.
Just climbing with them over the last few months has really opened up new climbs for me. This winter has been very dry in the Alps and what are normally termed as ‘mixed’ climbs are really just patches of thin ice with a lot of dry tooling on the side. Even though the ice pro is harder to find this year it is not bothering me as I have rarely found myself run out with these things hanging on my harness. I can now protect almost anything I run into, which is a great mental help. For the 96 grams that a full set of 6 weighs (yes that’s right 96 grams!) they can make the difference between leading up a crux pitch with low fear factor or leading up it with meters of distance between pro on some very delicate climbing.
If you’re wondering how the heads are shaped it is almost exactly the same as their equivalent numbered full sized rocks but just cut in half lengthways (see photo). I’ve always been a big fan of the shape of Rocks and yes there are plenty of different shapes from manufacturers to choose from. Obviously every ‘nut’ shape has an advantage and disadvantage over others, but I have found that for ease of use the WC shape is the best. They are also colour coded which everyone seems to be doing nowadays but is worth mentioning
Rated from 4kn to 6kn you aren’t going to want to take a huge whipper on them but they are easily strong enough to take minor falls and hang off them. That may sound like you are hitting the realms of tenuous pro and aiding but honestly we aren’t talking copper heads here. These Rocks will hold a fall and they are strong, there is no doubt about it. Don’t just assume that because they are tiny that they are exclusively for hard climbing (an assumption that I used to make about this kind of gear). You have to be aware of its limitations strength wise, and it’s not going to hold a huge fall; but then you often protect more when it gets harder so in theory you shouldn’t be leaving large gaps between pro anyway when you are pushing your limit. At the end of the day these things take up so little space when placed that it is also easy to seat more than one and equalize them.
Oddly enough I find that I have nothing to criticise about this gear, which annoys me a little as I like to think that I can always find some fault with any item of gear out there. It’s lightweight, takes up very little space on your rack, places and extracts like a dream and so far this season, has been placed more than any other type of pro I have used. I think what’s really great about it is that it’s completely revolutionary. Every day we are bombarded with new shiny gear that is essentially the same but just a few grams lighter because that’s the natural course- there is only a finite amount of improvements you can do to a bit of gear and very soon it always boils down to shaving off those extra few grams. I think we get a little bored about all the hype when in fact nothing much has changed. Here on the other hand is a completely new product that has not only ticked the box on cutting down weight (in a major way) but also in innovation and design. For me this is definitely my gear choice for 2007 and as yet I have found nothing that has surpassed it.
The Impressive stats table