/ Advantage of bug/xtc belay devices over a stitch plate

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SCrossley on 01 May 2012
Hi,
I have never used a stitch plate, but have been given a couple, one with a spring, one without.I have always thought stitch plates look a neat bit of kit and jut wondered what the pros and cons are versus bugs and xtc`s with 8.5mm ropes in belaying and abbing.
Cheers sjc
mike kann - on 01 May 2012
In reply to sjc: They jam like crazy compared to a bug or atc...
jimtitt - on 01 May 2012
In reply to sjc:

It is spelt Sticht (with a capital S as it is named after Herr Sticht).
Al Randall on 01 May 2012
In reply to sjc: The first plates were just a small rectangle of alloy with one or two slots cut into it. The springs were introduced allegedly to stop the ropes jamming in them but I always thought it made matters worse. Modern devices operate more smoothly and dissipate heat much more efficiently.

Al
SCrossley on 01 May 2012
In reply to sjc:
Thanks everyone, all pretty clear.
Cheers sjc
thin bob on 01 May 2012
In reply to sjc: I had two, one 'plain' and one sprung. they're not as smooth as modern devices, but they're fun to use in low-stress situations.

Plain one easy to keep as a spare on the back of your harness.
highclimber - on 01 May 2012
In reply to sjc: Stich(sp) plates are to belay device what hemp is to ropes. old fashioned and cumbersome though not necessarily dangerous unlike the rope!
Ian Jones on 01 May 2012
In reply to sjc:

No question aboot it you want to get a `Reverso' type device which will enable you to `climb' the rope should you lose contact with the rope. With only one prussic (or a`Ropeman) rope ascending is easy and safe.
timjones - on 01 May 2012
In reply to mike kann:
> (In reply to sjc) They jam like crazy compared to a bug or atc...

HTH do you manage to jam a spring sticht plate?
Al Randall on 01 May 2012
In reply to jimtitt: Hi Jim. You might know the answer to this. When were Sticht plates invented? I found one in the alps around about the late 60's/early 70's but didn't appreciate what it was for for several years.

Al
54ms - on 01 May 2012
In reply to sjc:

The springs are a pain as they get caught around all your slings and prussics in your bag.

Like others have mentioned I've had them jam up on when lowering someone, no where near as smooth as a modern device.

That said if anyone wants to sell one with out the spring cheaply I'd be interested in buying it cheaply as a bit of history to show clients.
SCrossley on 01 May 2012
In reply to Ian Jones:
> (In reply to sjc)
>
> No question aboot it you want to get a `Reverso' type device which will enable you to `climb' the rope should you lose contact with the rope. With only one prussic (or a`Ropeman) rope ascending is easy and safe.

I assume you mean lose contact with the rock? and in a free hang ie under an overhang? Are you saying the Reverso can be used instead of a prussic or a ropeman?
Not thought this through but how do you get a tight rope into a belay device?
Cheers sjc

54ms - on 01 May 2012
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to mike kann)
> [...]
>
> HTH do you manage to jam a spring sticht plate?

It's the ones without springs I've had jam.
Sarah G on 01 May 2012
In reply to sjc:
They are an excellent bit of kit for beginners, becuase they are more 'grabby' than the smoother-running ATC, etc. The grabbiness helps in giving the beginner belay the confidence that they CAN hold a fall until their experience kicks in. The Sticht plate is fine to use in all the situations you would use an ATC etc for, just a bit more jerky on abseils and less smooth for paying out rope. They have their place.

Sx
tlm - on 01 May 2012
In reply to 54ms:
> That said if anyone wants to sell one with out the spring cheaply I'd be interested in buying it cheaply as a bit of history to show clients.

item20c422fa6f on that well known online auction site

tlm - on 01 May 2012
In reply to Sarah G:
> They have their place.

They were better than body belays, at any rate!
nogoodgrice - on 01 May 2012
In reply to Sarah G:
Agreed that they're excellent beginners' belay devices - virtually impossible to thread up wrongly and they do lock off a treat. We used to use Sticht plate or waist belay (!) for belaying the leader, and a figure-eight for bringing up seconds/top-roping - the F8 isn't built to take a shock load but it's great for lowering off.
The Ex-Engineer - on 01 May 2012
In reply to sjc and others: It is now dated but this excellent BMC article on belay devices is still worth a read http://www.thebmc.co.uk/modules/article.aspx?id=1436

The basic conclusion it draws is that Sticht plates (especially unsprung ones) and ATCs are essentially very different style of belay device but at the time the article was written, that both still had their uses and their place.

A quick bit of history. Prior to 1987 the only options for belaying where pretty much a body/shoulder belay, a figure 8, a Munter/Italian hitch or a Sticht plate. Then Lowe Alpine invented the Tuber, the first 'tube style' belay device which offered very slick belaying.

In the late 1980s climbing had become a lot more athletic and fluid due to more people climbing indoors and climbing sport routes rather than just 'ledge shuffling' on lower grade trad routes outdoors. As such, the requirement for belay devices to smoothly feed out rope had become increasing important to those climbing at all grades. A more fluid style of climbing also meant it was generally easier for belayers to remain attentive which further reduced the need for a 'grabby' belay device. The result of this was almost a wholesale move towards, first the Lowe Tuber and then to its successor the Black Diamond ATC.

However, this shift to 'slick' belay deivces had downsides in that they lack 'holding power' when belaying heavier climbers or abseiling on thin ropes. Numerous attempt to solve this issue were made over the years with devices such as the original Tuber and later Wild Country's Variable Controller offering two belaying modes. These attempts were generally inconclusive and not universally liked and it took until the last decade before the solution of 'grooves' was settled upon by the majority of manufacturers as the best way to increase holding power of slick belay devices.

The upshot of this is that we FINALLY now have numerous belay devices that offer a good (if not perfect) mix of slickness when feeding rope but sufficient holding power in the case of falls or when abseiling. As such, I think that where as ten years ago you could very plausibly argue that sprung Sticht plates were still a good belay device for novices we are now in a position where they can and should be consigned to the status of historical curiosities.
timjones - on 01 May 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:


> The upshot of this is that we FINALLY now have numerous belay devices that offer a good (if not perfect) mix of slickness when feeding rope but sufficient holding power in the case of falls or when abseiling. As such, I think that where as ten years ago you could very plausibly argue that sprung Sticht plates were still a good belay device for novices we are now in a position where they can and should be consigned to the status of historical curiosities.

I'd disagree. the sticht is still a match for modern devices if used correctly. Most problems tend to be caused by mismatching rope and device or poor belay technique IME. When assessing instructors any suggestion that they struggle with a sticht plate rings some very serious alarm bells in my mind.
Landy_Dom on 01 May 2012
In reply to sjc:

Not thought this through but how do you get a tight rope into a belay device?

You don't. You need 2 ascenders (or prussiks or whatever) to climb a rope. The top one must slide up a tight rope as you hang on the bottom one, but the bottom one can be moved up the rope where it is slack, as you hang on the upper device. Thus you can use a prussik or ropeman for the upper device (tight rope) and an autoblock belay plate (Reverso / ATC Guide etc) as the lower device (slack rope). Make sense?
54ms - on 01 May 2012
In reply to tlm:

Ta, but I'm not having any joy with that number. I'll have a search after I've finished work.
Taurig - on 01 May 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
> (In reply to sjc and others) It is now dated but this excellent BMC article on belay devices is still worth a read http://www.thebmc.co.uk/modules/article.aspx?id=1436

Interesting article. As a total novice I bought my first belay device about a month ago, a regular BD ATC, based on various shop sites recommending it as a good all-rounder. It was only after I bought it that I found some talk on here and other places that they were slick devices, and I had a bit of buyer's remorse as I'm clearly not going to be the most experienced belayer at this stage.

That said, it bites fine on my own 10.2mm rope, and although it is noticeably slicker on some thinner wall ropes, by using two opposing krabs with it (as recommended by some folk on here) I can get a decent amount of fricition. It's also good in the sense that, because I know it's slick, it makes me pay that bit more attention to belaying than I would if I knew I was using some really grabby device, so perhaps better in the long run?

I think when I start leading on twin ropes I will change to an ATC Guide, Reverso etc., though.
jimtitt - on 01 May 2012
In reply to Al Randall:
> (In reply to jimtitt) Hi Jim. You might know the answer to this. When were Sticht plates invented? I found one in the alps around about the late 60's/early 70's but didn't appreciate what it was for for several years.
>
> Al

Apparently they came out in 1967, made by Salewa. No idea how reliable the info is but that sounds about right.
Dave 88 - on 01 May 2012
In reply to Landy_Dom:

Sounds like faff. I'll stick with my 2 prussicks!
Al Randall on 01 May 2012
In reply to jimtitt: Interesting. The one we found did look a bit primitive. Perhaps it was an early trial one or even a homemade copy.

Al
Landy_Dom on 01 May 2012
In reply to Dave 88:
> (In reply to Landy_Dom)
>
I'll stick with my 2 prussicks!

Without meaning to teach my grandmother to suck eggs, I hope you have some sort of back up (like a clove hitch on an HMS on your harness) if relying on prussiks?
Dave 88 - on 01 May 2012
In reply to Landy_Dom:

Are both likely to fail simultaneously?
chrisbaggy - on 01 May 2012
In reply to Landy_Dom:
I hope you have some sort of back up (like a clove hitch on an HMS on your harness) if relying on prussiks?

well you would be still tied into the end of the rope wouldn't you? admittedly it'd be a long slide back down but still a backup.

if your climbing and you only carry say 2 prussics and 2 karabiners you can get up.
If your climbing and you have your guide belay plate and one prussic with krab and you don't have a second krab then your stuffed!
timjones - on 02 May 2012
In reply to chrisbaggy:
> (In reply to Landy_Dom)
> I hope you have some sort of back up (like a clove hitch on an HMS on your harness) if relying on prussiks?
>
> well you would be still tied into the end of the rope wouldn't you? admittedly it'd be a long slide back down but still a backup.
>
> if your climbing and you only carry say 2 prussics and 2 karabiners you can get up.
> If your climbing and you have your guide belay plate and one prussic with krab and you don't have a second krab then your stuffed!

You would have be exceedingly likely to have krabs from gear that that you had stripped off the route or from the last stance. When are you ever going to be on a serious multi pitch route with only your belay device and a prussic loop.
mike kann - on 02 May 2012
In reply to Dave 88: Do you clip in to your harness with both prussick loops, cos if not you only need one to fail. Just remain tied it to the rope and you're done. It's unusual to need to back up more than that unless you are going some distance...
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mike kann - on 02 May 2012
In reply to timjones: OK I'll admit I've not used one in a long time, but I remember them being much less user friendly than modern belay plates. I remember having a standard springless plate which was very jammy, and using a springed one every so often and finding it a little bit better but not nearly as good as a bug style device. At the time I mainly used single ropes and a fig 8 to belay, so it was kind of irrelevant.
Dave 88 - on 02 May 2012
In reply to mike kann:

Yeah, otherwise if the top one fails, the best I can hope for is to be dangling from my foot!

I always thought that as long as both were connected to your harness, that was enough redundancy.
Mark Kemball - on 02 May 2012
In reply to sjc: I still use my Sticht plate (spring removed). It is very grabby, but I'm well used to that. - I first came across one in 1978 - some German climbers were over here and using them. I bought one soon after - vastly superior to the waist belay I'd been using up 'til then. I'm about to buy some skinny ropes and will get myself a bugette or similar - slightly worried about adjusting as after 30+ years, my belaying technique is almost completely automatic.
chrisbaggy - on 02 May 2012
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to chrisbaggy)
> [...]
>
> You would have be exceedingly likely to have krabs from gear that that you had stripped off the route or from the last stance. When are you ever going to be on a serious multi pitch route with only your belay device and a prussic loop.

equally you could say you would also have a sling, assuming its dynemma that would be your second prussic.

Im not saying either technique is better than another, both do the same job. Its more about knowing what equipment can do what and what you can adapt to get out of a situation.
timjones - on 02 May 2012
In reply to mike kann:
> (In reply to timjones) OK I'll admit I've not used one in a long time, but I remember them being much less user friendly than modern belay plates. I remember having a standard springless plate which was very jammy, and using a springed one every so often and finding it a little bit better but not nearly as good as a bug style device. At the time I mainly used single ropes and a fig 8 to belay, so it was kind of irrelevant.

We still kit out one of our Scout Climbing Towers with sprung sticht plates as matched with the right size ropes they are a good device for less experinced belayers in our opinion. When I'm operating on this tower I use the equipment that is provided and logged with the tower for obvious reasons. My honest impression is that they are still as good as any other device on the market unless you want the extra features found on an ATC Guide or Reverso etc.
jkarran - on 02 May 2012
In reply to sjc:

I use an unsprung Sticht as my belay device of preference (when not using the GriGri), I very much like the way it jams with minimal dead rope load.

If you want it to run free for abbing or lowering you can either lift it with your free hand or clip a crab through the ropes to lift it a little, the fatter the crab the freer it runs.

If you want to pay out slickly you just knock it free with your hand before moving the ropes.

I have several other modern devices, they're all fine, some are really quite clever but it's the simple Sticht that time and again finds its way back to my harness.
jk
wivanov - on 10 May 2012
In reply to mike kann:
> (In reply to sjc) They jam like crazy compared to a bug or atc...

Try using it with two carabiners (opposed ovals work nicely) and you'll find it won't jam nearly as much.

I have several Stitch plates. Mostly, I use an ATC or ATC-guide. But, sometimes slip one of the springless Stitch plates in my back pocket as a spare.

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