Objects Database

Kong Slit Flex Camming Devices

Accession Number


Object Name

Kong Slit Flex Camming Devices




Hermione Cooper

Accession Date


Brief Description

Spring loaded camming device


metal, plastic


a - 24(l) x 12.5(w) x 5(d) cms b - 21(l) x7(w) x 5(d) cms

Number Of Objects


Inscription Description

a- 7 b - 4


black, silver



Object Production Place



Russian mountaineer, Vitaly Abalakov, is credited with inventing the first spring loaded camming device for rock climbing back in the 1950's, though it was American climber, Ray Jardine, who perfected the idea and, in conjunction with the UK based manufacturer, Wild Country, the first 'Friends' appeared in 1978,revolutionising the way rock climbs were protected for evermore.
Although Jardine seems to have had some form of patent, dozens of 'pretenders to the throne' soon followed, with various designs to either make them better or dodge the patent laws.
These two cams gave us a wee bit of a problem as they don't have a maker's name and were unlike anything we'd seen before. There were some pictures of Yates Big Dudes on the internet which were an American camming device from way back in the 1980's and the largest one of ours looked very similar so we put it on our web site, called it a Big Dude but mentioned that we were not sure. We then found a smaller one amongst a pile of old gear which got us puzzling again and in these situations the best solution is to ask an expert - in this case Stephane Pennequin who owns the Nuts Museum, the world's best collection of rock climbing hardware. Here's what he had to say:-
" Bonjour Mick,
A couple of days ago, I spotted a big cam at the end of your web page. You were wondering if this cam might well be a Yates Big Dude....it is not! This cam, with die cast cam lobes, was made by Ande in Italy under the name of Hard, and sometimes sold under the name Slit Flex by Kong. I suspect that your "number 4" matches your "Big Dude"

This is obviously very disappointing as we'd rather have a pair of Big Dudes than a couple of Slit Flex - never mind.
Our Kongs are fairly ancient however. Mick Tighe found the No. 4 in a boulder field in Switzerland back in the 1990's, and the No.7 came via our friend, Paul Rosher, who acquired it in Yosemite about the same time.

Acquisition Method

Donated by Paul Rosher and Mick Tighe

Acquisition Date


Condition Check Date



Spectrum : UK Museum documentation standard, V.3.1 2007



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