Forums: Climbing Information: Gear Heads: Re: [bearbreeder] Best belay device: Edit Log


Dec 17, 2012, 8:21 PM

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Re: [bearbreeder] Best belay device
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Over the past couple of climbing seasons, I have been integrating into my trad multipitch technique various approaches aiming to eliminate the possibility of the leader falling directly on a mid-route trad belay or to severely limit the impact of such a fall.

Lock-assist devices that are compatible with half ropes peak my interest because of their potential application with one of those "no-FF2" approaches, which simply consists of placing and clipping the first couple of progression pros of the next pitch at arm's length from the previous pros. Of course, this requires good pro options in relatively close proximity above the belay (and when that condition is not met, another "no-FF2" approach must be used). With this approach, the belayer must keep the leader secured on the previous pro at the same time as he pays out a bunch of slack for the next clip.

The only decent practical solution Iíve found for this is to use two ropes and have the belayer hold tight on the one clipped into the previous pro while paying out slack on the other for the clipping of the next pro. Since I'm between half-ropes these days, I use 5m of dynamic 8mm in order to have the double rope technique with my single rope for the beginning of the pitch.

This may be well-known to some but it took me a little while to work it out: the only way to consistently allow the clipping rope to be paid out easily is to ensure that the held rope does not pull the ATC tight against its biner. I've found that the ATC Guide and Reverso3&4 work well for this because you can keep the device separated from its biner by gently pushing up against the small cord ring just under the "V" notches with the thumb of the hand holding the locked-off rope as shown. The ATC-XP, Verso and other units of this type work not too badly either because the thumb can push against the underside of the V notches. However, with the regular ATC, itís much trickier and thereís a high risk of getting fingers pinched between the device and its biner if the leader falls.


The Smart Alpine seems to work well for this too. Iíve only had the opportunity to try it in the store but the unlocking hook at the front end does seem to allow using a single hand to both hold one rope tight and keep the device loose, leaving the other hand free to pay out slack. In this case, itís even more important to keep the device loose since allowing it to jam against the biner completely locks both ropes (and that's the whole point of the device). Of course, if the leader falls before completing the clip, the belayer must stop pushing up/out against the device to be able to arrest him but thatís an easy reflex to have since you simply revert to holding down the braking rope in the usual manner.

I like the lock-assist feature of the Smart Alpine for the extra safety in case of belayer distraction (or loss of consciousness) but, with the "no-FF2" approaches I use now, the need for lock-assist does not seem so urgent and I find the Smart Alpine a bit heavy (at 125 g) and quite bulky for trad multipitches. Rgold mentioned that the Alpine Up does better than anything else at (near) simultaneous taking in and paying out of half ropes (so, presumably, also at simultaneously holding securely and paying out). This sounds very interesting but this unit seems way too heavy (175g) and bulky for trad multipitches.

This new Edelrid device looks like it should work OK for the two-rope simultaneous hold and pay out manipulation. Iíd love to try it out but have not seen it anywhere yet (plus I'm quite puzzled that neither the device nor that super-skinny rope it's supposed to go with show up on the Edelrid website).

(Edited for clarity)

(This post was edited by jktinst on Dec 20, 2012, 5:01 AM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by jktinst () on Dec 17, 2012, 8:24 PM
Post edited by jktinst () on Dec 20, 2012, 4:56 AM
Post edited by jktinst () on Dec 20, 2012, 5:01 AM

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