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Review: The Yates Screamer

Submitted by holdplease2 on 2005-10-23 | Last Modified on 2006-11-24

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Most folks “in the know” carry at least a few Yates Screamers on bigwalls, but the vast majority of climbers are lucky enough to wonder for the duration of their wall careers why these little devices are called "Screamers" in the first place. But these babies are designed to do one thing, and one thing only... make it more likely that you'll live to climb again. And in fact, many a life has been saved by a well-placed Screamer. They look harmless enough and they come in pretty colors, but Screamers are all business.

And speaking of business, nobody wants to read a gear review for which the gear wasn’t thoroughly tested. So, as a loyal member of the Booty Crew, I climbed 15 pitches up El Cap, carefully arranged a series of eight Screamers on eight pieces of pro, then… um… jumped… on purpose. (Yeah, right.)

My test -- all for you -- yielded some pretty interesting results. Surprisingly, I was able to feel the deployment of each Screamer prior to the failure of it’s associated gear. This slowing effect resulted in a very gentle catch despite falling roughly 120 feet with only 70 feet of rope out.

Screamers for review
Above you can see six of the eight screamers. One was left on the piece that caught the fall. (I only left it to scare the next party.) And one was dropped. (Seven rivets/heads/rivet hangers broke, as this was a “rivet ladder” pitch… all pro was placed by the FA-ist. The test began when a #1 wire rivet hanger broke.) I was (ahem) so excited by my findings, that rather than finish the 9 pitches to the summit, I promptly rappelled to the ground (over the course of two days) to prepare this review.

What Screamers Do

Yates Screamers serve the important function of spreading the shock load of a falling climber over time, thus decreasing the peak load on protection. When peak load occurs gear is most likely to fail. Therefore, in theory, your gear is less likely to fail if it is equipped with a Screamer. Yates sums it up this way: “Screamers not only absorb energy directly because of the stitch ripping effect, they also allow your rope to absorb more energy from the fall by increasing the time interval of the fall.”

For us simple folks – Screamers make your catch softer, hopefully sparing your gear and your kidneys. In the meantime, the climber hopes that the gear holds. If it does not, at least the screamer slowed the climber down, hopefully increasing the chance that the next piece of gear will hold. Further “techie speak” can be found here.

Screamers can be linked together sequentially to double or triple absorption. They can also be used in a group, rather than sequentially, to increase the activation load. As far as I'm concerned, a Screamer is a must when climbing above less-than-bomber pro or where high fall factors are a distinct possibility. With so many varieties available, you can improve your chances when free climbing, aid climbing, or ice climbing.

So, How Much Do Screamers Really Help?

Screamers actually come in a few different shapes and sizes...

Both the Regular and the Shorty Screamers deploy at slightly more than 2kN and can decrease peak loads on your gear by 3-4kN. The strength of the runner following deployment is 26 kN. Price: $12.50 for regular, $16 for shorty.

The Zipper Screamer, best used very close to the anchor, deploys at slightly more than 2kN, can decrease peak loads by 4-8kN. They have a runner strength of 26kN. Price: $23.

Scream Aids activate at 1.5-2kN, reduce peak loads by 1.5 to 2kN and have a runner strength of 7 kn. They are ideally intended for very marginal aid pieces. The handy nylon loop is convenient for tying off pins… but as I learned in my test, not head cables to save biners. Price: $11.75.

Uniquely designed to work with ice screws, Ice Screams activate at greater than 2kN and reduce peak loads by 3-4kN. They have a runner strength of 26kN. Price: $13.50.


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