I recently had the privilege of testing out one of Black Diamond’s new Z4 cams. I took the green #0 up to The Ledge on Table Mountain and handed it over to Teo Iliev as he set off up the intimidating No Longer at Ease (25), a classic Tinie Versfeld test piece for the aspiring hard man. The Z4 range effectively replaces the BD X4s and C3s, and the #0 has a narrow head, making it ideal for small pockets and tapered rails. Teo set off up the steep arête and found the Z4 particularly useful as it is the perfect size to protect the committing face moves. Unfortunately, he ended up resting on the cam before working out the sequence.
The Z4 boasts some slick new features such as a variable flexibility stem – when you pull the trigger, the stem becomes more rigid, making placing and retrieving easier. When the cam is set in place and the trigger released, the stem has more flex, thus reducing any tendency for it to walk and get stuck in the crack.
The cam performed admirably on The Ledge, but would it handle a Cape country route? Teo, Guy Paterson-Jones and I took it out for a trip up Renaissance (22) in Du Toits Kloof. Hard country routes in the Western Cape require cunning to place good protection, and micro cams come into their own in such environments. We placed the micro Z4 countless times in the horizontal sandstone rails on that 400-metre wall.
The Z4 #0 is a must-have addition to any rack. Whether you are climbing a classic on Lions Head, cranking hard on the Jeopardy Wall, or doing some choss inspections on a country route, you will want this piece with you.