The first rack of Valley Giant cams, June 2002.
Shown after an ascent of Excalibur, El Capitain, Yosemite Valley
This is the very first Valley Giant #9 cam, made in May/June of 2001.
general configuration has not changed since then, but many of the
details have. Notice, for example, the pattern of lightening holes, the
resting angle of the lobes, the machined aluminum trigger bar, and the
excessively long cable loop. This first Valley Giant never touched
the rock - it was pull-tested to destruction to validate the design. At
a bit over 5000 lbf, the lobes deformed enough to allow the cam to pull
out of the eight-inch wide steel testing frame. Subsequent tests of
Valley Giant #9 samples have had similar results, with failure in
5000 lbf (22 kN).
This is the first Valley Giant #12, and one of the
two VG12 cams in the photo above. This cam (or its twin)
was beta tested by sticking it into a wide section of P9 of
Excalibur, and using it. It passed the test, and
later was used on that route's last pitch, in another very wide
section. The VG12 shares most of its design and components
number of #12 Valley Giants have been made using magnesium alloy
aircraft aluminum for the lobes. They were much lighter, but the
was so soft, the lobes could be rather easily bent and deformed. The
magnesium VG12 cams worked perfectly well as pusher pieces, which was
their original purpose. This one was a special,
ultralight experimental MVG12 model that weighed about as much as a
Black Diamond or Wild Country #6. The
magnesium Valley Giant cams are no longer available.
the Valley Giant design had evolved with a new hole pattern for the
lobes, black nylon trigger bar and black nylon spacer between
cable fittings. These "New Generation" Giants (VG9, left, and VG12,
right) were more economical to manufacture, which allowed the original
Valley Giant pricing to remain the same for years, despite substantial
in material costs.
This photo dates from Fall,
2004. At the left are a Black Diamond #4 and #5 (what they now call a
#6). At the right is a fully functional plywood #16. The three SLCDs in
the center are VG7,
VG9 and VG12. Notice that the VG7 is the same size as the BD5 (now
called a BD6). The original numbering scheme for Ray Jardine's Friends
span in inches", and this has been followed with the Valley Giant cams
- the number corresponds to the maximum span, in inches.
This photo commemorates the construction of a massive (and
massively impractical) aluminum VG16 that was specially requested by a
customer. The Godzilla Cam was designed to withstand even severe leader
falls. It is very likely that carrying and placing such a heavy cam
on lead would fatigue a climber so much, a fall would be inevitable.
is a more reasonable version of the VG16. The lobes are birch plywood,
and it only (sic) weighs 3 pounds. It's rated for body-weight only, and
is a pusher-piece. The axle is a hollow stainless steel tube, and the
the center spacer is a thin tube brazed to the cable fittings, to
reduce weight. Notice that the rather thin cable has been silver-brazed
to create solid rods, so that they don't buckle when pulling the
trigger bar. This cam is in the Karabin Museum, Phoenix, Arizona.