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The location is a 30 foot waterfall at the start of Copperhead Trail near Lake Havasu City, Arizona. That is Lady and I working our way to the top. I have only two tires touching rock at that point, the driver front and the passenger rear. The winch is tied off to a winch line extension that goes more than 100' to an anchor point.
And right about here.....I was saying to myself....."Lady, don't fail me now." Fortunately for me, she did not. The following day, a vehicle didn't make it to the top and from what I was told, the driver was very seriously injured. We hope the driver makes a complete recovery.
My point here? There are no second chances when it comes to this level of wheelin'. To all of the budget winch owners (you know who you are), you really need to ponder this situation for a bit and ask yourself if your bargain basement recovery system is honestly up to the task. Will you literally bet your life on it working when you most need it?
That same question needs to be asked in regards to your winch cable too. Your recovery system is no better than its weakest link. A top quality winch with damaged cable doesn't make for a great combination. Does your steel winch cable have one or more of these along its length? If so, you are past due to replace your cable. I've seen much worse on winches in service out on the trail. Not good at all.
Even if your steel winch cable doesn't have any damaged areas, replacing it with synthetic winch line eliminates some excess pounds from your vehicle's bumper area. If fact, if you replace 100' of 3/8" steel cable with 100' of synthetic line, you will be getting rid of 26 pounds of cable and replacing it with just 3.6 pounds.
While the weight savings is a plus, the BIG advantage to running synthetic winch line is the increased safety aspect. Due to its light weight construction, the synthetic line stores virtually no energy while under tension from the winch. This means that if the line should fail, it literally falls to the ground. It is very much like throwing a napkin through the air....it goes a couple of feet and falls to the ground. One thing to remember though is that if you have a hook on the end of the line (let's say you are attached to your tree saver and the tree saver fails), then that hook will not simply drop to the ground. It would be along the same lines as putting a rock in that napkin and then throwing it.....it will go much further before hitting the ground.
The heavier steel cable stores a significant amount of energy when put under heavy tension. I'm sure you've seen people lay blankets, tarps, and even sand bags across the steel cable as a safety precaution against it failing. None of this is needed with synthetic winch line. That level of danger is just not there.
While you could stand next to synthetic winch line while winching, it's a good idea to treat it with the same respect as you would steel cable when ever possible. If your tree saver breaks, you don't want to be right there when that rock in the napkin goes by. I know that many of you wheel with children.....wouldn't it be great knowing that your child is much safer from the possibility of a failed winch cable? How can you put a price on that?
OK....so I've stood on the soap box long enough. Time to get on with this and see just what all is available.
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