A better device than most of these reviews make out
Review by: dhinder, 2007-02-20
I have used this device for about 10 months. Whilst I did not climb very frequently during that time, I would have used it on at least 9 trips. Enough time to form an accurate impression of it. I've abseiled on double ropes, wet single ropes in a canyon, used it to belay leaders on sport & trad routes, and used it to bring up seconds.
When belaying leaders I would feed the rope so that the brake side corresponded to the thicker side of the device. Using it, I held a lead fall that was large enough to jerk me off my feet and bang me against the cliff.
The device does get hot on abseils. So does any other device out there, I'm not sure why people are cradling it in their hands after a big abseil... Point is, after a 50m rap you're not going to want to touch any device for very long, so I don't think it's a big issue.
Someone mentioned that feeding thicker ropes through the grooves is hard. When trying to rap on 10.5mm rope (the rope belongs to a club, so it sees a fair bit of use), you do have to grasp the bights of rope firmly to push them through the grooves. Not a major issue for me.
I think it would take a lot of wear and tear before this device began to develop dangerous rope-cutting edges.
I never had anyone complain about jerky lowerings, though I certainly apologised for them. Whether the jerky lowering is the device's fault, or due to my imperfect technique, I don't know. When beginning abseils I did find that the ride was slightly jerky, but would get smoother near the end of the abseil.
For my money, it's a good device to give to inexperienced climbers: it's extremely simple, and has no confusing extra holes like the attachment points on the Reverso and ATC Guide. It gives you low-friction and high-friction modes, which is more than a vanilla ATC does. The device is perfectly safe. While I have recently purchased a Reverso (anticipate doing more leading with less experienced people), I am definitely hanging onto my Variable Controller.