How to retrieve stuck cams

Here is one special trick for retrieving those nice, shiny cams of yours that are hopelessly stuck behind a flake: expand the flake.

How? Flakes are very often not really solid rock. Even though they may not seem to yield to your banging and pulling, they usually do move a bit. If you can’t retrieve the cam because it’s retracted to its limit (i.e. over-cammed), the idea is to widen the crack behind the flake for a moment.By being smart, you can drastically increase your leverage on the flake:

  • Plug in another (smaller) cam behind the same flake just next to where the stuck cam is.
  • Clip the second cam to the belay loop on your harness using a quickdraw or a sling.
  • Apply your body weight on the second cam. The flake will expand, even if you don’t see it.
  • While still hanging on the cam, remove the stuck cam.
  • Obviously, retrieve the second cam too. Because you used a smaller size, it should come out easily.

Warning! Whatever you do, do not cause the flake to break and fall. You could injure or kill people below.

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