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Guide Gear Review: Black Diamond Spinner Leash

Mike Lewis utilizing the BD Spinner Leash on All Mixed Up
in Rocky Mountain National Park – Photo by Rainbow Weinstock

There I was…climbing the second pitch of Goldrush…a four pitch WI5 route in the Silverton area of Colorado. I had finished the crux section of the pitch and placed one of my ice tools on my left shoulder so I could traverse right through some steep snow and ice. I leaned forward to look at my feet and suddenly the ice tool slipped from my shoulder. I could not respond quickly enough to save my tool from plummeting 350′ to the plot of snow at the base of the route. Luckily, my partner was tucked back in a corner at the anchor below and out of the way of my cascading tool. I finished the pitch with one tool and rappelled off the climb once my partner got to the top of the second pitch.

There I was…climbing solo on the Direct Polish Glacier on Aconcagua in Argentina. The crux consists of about 3,000′ of Alpine Ice 3 without ledges or breaks in the angle. Dropping an ice tool in this situation is not an option. I tied some cordellette to the bottom of my tools and clipped this into my harness. I felt reassured and much safer knowing that I could not drop my ice tools this time. Now enter the Black Diamond Spinner Leash.

 BD Spinner Leash

The Spinner Leash is standard gear for me when climbing ice. Whether it is ice-cragging or multi-pitch alpine ice – I am using the Spinner Leash. These days many folks are going “leashless” in order to have more freedom of movement and natural motion. I have found that with the Spinner Leash I can still have the freedom of movement I desire but the peace of my mind that I am not going to drop a tool mid climb.

I have found that the Spinner Leash rarely gets in the way: in fact, most of the time I forget it is attached. I can switch my tools from hand to hand and the swivel keeps the leashes organized. The stretchy bungee inside the black webbing keeps slack from building up that would accumulate if you used a cordalette leash. The carabiners that clip into the bottom of the tools are small enough that they do not get in the way.
Mike ready to climb with the BD Spinner Leash

There are a few points to be mindful of when using the Spinner Leash. When following a leader, the cords can get wrapped around the climbing rope. Some intention in placement and organization when moving from one stick to the next helps mitigate this. Also, the carabineers that clip into the bottom of the tool have gates that do not latch onto the tip of the carabiner – there is no hook to catch the wiregate. The carabiner once popped off my tool at a belay because the wiregate got slightly loaded at an angle. Lastly, the carabiners for the Spinner Leash may not clip into helpful places on some ergonomic tools as the alignment may put the carabiners right where your hand wants to go. These are the only things I have found unperfected by the Spinner Leash.

Overall, I REALLY like the Spinner Leash and recommend it to any ice or alpine climber, beginner to expert. Why have the anxiety of dropping your tools when you can have the safety of a leash that does not compromise the freedom of going leashless? Enjoy!

Have fun and be safe out there,


AMGA Certified Rock Guide
Colorado Mountain School Mountain Guide

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