2017 Luminary Series – Charlie Gibbs

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After a trip to Schoolhouse Cave, Charles Gibbs reasoned that some type of ascender activated by the legs instead of the arms would desirably free one’s hands to push off of a lip and, thus, facilitate the sometimes difficult task of topping out at the top of a pit. So, in the mid-1960s, he began development of an improved design for a climbing cam. Charles made both the cam and the shell very strong, engineered the rate of cam closure, and figured out a geometry that would prevent slippage even if the teeth were worn smooth. Because of his cautious demeanor, Gibbs emphasized safety over all other parameters when considering the variety of tradeoffs. In addition, Charles developed a harness design that facilitated rigging one ascender to a foot and another just above the opposite knee. In this way, the rope could be climbed in a natural “walking” manner. Over time, such an arrangement became well-known as the Ropewalker system.

2017 Luminary Series – Charlie Gibbs

June 1, 2017

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