10. Retrieving Stuck Cams

In this video we review considerations for retrieving stuck cams. Cams can get stuck for many reasons. Perhaps it was incorrectly placed, jammed into place when fully cammed, i.e. by a freaked out climber on lead in desperate need of protection. Sometimes the rope movement after the leader climbs above the piece can alter the placement and get some of the lobes stuck or over-cammed. And sometimes the cam can walk further into the crack so the trigger is out of reach of the follower (or, in the case of a finger crack or thin hands crack, if your follower has sausage fingers or big hands, and the leader really stuffed the cam deep into the crack, the second may be unable to reach the trigger).

If you need to retrieve a stuck cam, chances are you’ll need both hands free. To do this, you can either hang on the rope OR place another piece of gear above you to hang from. From your belay loop, clip directly into the piece of gear and then hang. Use a sling or quickdraw to extend the distance if need be. This can hold you more perfectly in place, and eliminates the need to have your belayer take in lots of rope to get the stretch out and put you in the perfect spot to wiggle the cam out.

Once in position, use two hands to try and reach the trigger to wiggle the cam free. If you still can’t get it out, use a cleaning tool to pull the trigger, to grab individual lobes, or to slide the cam head sideways.

We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!


Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.