/ What sort of Belay Device do people like/should I buy next?

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Boulderdash86 on 04 Oct 2012
I have 2 at the moment (BD ATC (which I'm thinking of retiring) and a Petzl Verso (which hardly gets used at all). I want to know what are people's favourite type - my main reason for asking is now I'm progressing into Winter stuff and looking at doing SPA assessment in the future as I have done the training, is it worth saving up and buying either the Mammut - Smart Apline/ Petzl Reverso 4/ BD ATC Guide or suggest another one?

What are the advantages with these ones, how do they cope with frozen ropes/ how have people got on with them etc etc

Just for interest - I was out climbing with some friends at the weekend and one had the Smart Alpine and one had the ATC Guide and both seemed to work very well with taking the belayer out of the system, and arresting falls.
CurlyStevo - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Boulderdash86:
Personally I don't like being belayed in 'guide' mode as it prevents me from climbing down when considering a sequence on second. I think the main time its usefull is for long routes when 2 seconds can simu climb.

In my experience it doesn't give you much/any more down time than normal belaying when climbing with one partner, or seconds climbing one at a time. Afterall if the second has stopped with a normal device you can still open a bag and grab a sandwich with one hand whilst locking off the belay with the other anyway.
needvert on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Boulderdash86:

Reverso/atcguide, guide mode is pretty good.
CurlyStevo - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Boulderdash86:
The smart alpine is quite different from the other devices in that it auto locks when a leader falls.

For winter climbing (and SPA assessment) you don't need any of these fancy devices and you'd be better spending the money on clothing or ice / rock / turf protection (or boots axes and crampons).
The Ex-Engineer - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Boulderdash86: As Stevo says, for your SPA all you want is a normal friction device and a large HMS for Italian Hitches. But surely you know that from your training course?

As far as Winter climbing goes, I'd consider a Verso as already pretty much ideal.

If you are not guiding professionally with two seconds then using guide plates in the UK is a fairly poor idea and using them in Winter doubly so. They make things much harder work and reduce safety margins. Using one will probably just risk making you like another clueless SPA holder of the type that gives the qualification a bad name.

That said, I have used a Petzl Reverso 4 a handful of times this Summer and found it fine and no great change from the Reverso 3. Although, being so light, I have slight doubts about its long term durability as I have seen some fairly worn Reverso 3s previously.
davidbeynon - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Boulderdash86:

I had a DMM bug for years and liked it before going over to guide type plates. My Reverso 3 was well liked before I dropped it off the Dewerstone.
Bimble on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Boulderdash86:

I'm perfectly happy with my ATC Guide
CurlyStevo - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to TryfAndy:
I find the ATC guide is a bit too grabby compared with my old atc xp. It also has a weird ridge down the middle that sticks out the bottom and stops it sitting straight on the biner (as it protrudes more than the edges of the device). I can't see any reason for this ridge.

tom_in_edinburgh - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Boulderdash86:

The ATC guide is only 5 more than an ATC XP it's just as good in 'normal' mode as the XP and it's not significantly bigger or heavier.

Seems like the best thing is to just get the guide variant, if you end up not using guide mode you've only lost a fiver.
CurlyStevo - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
OP may as well stick with his petzl Verso which is perfectly adequate.
The Ex-Engineer - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> I can't see any reason for this ridge.

It is there to prevent the device locking up both ropes in guide more when one rope is loaded.

There is a similar ridge on the Reverso 4 and also on simple guide plates like the Kong GiGi.

beardy mike - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Boulderdash86: have had a act guide for years. It's been excellent. It is stiff to belay in auto lock with thick ropes. It handles a wide variety of diameters although its not as good for heavy ropes, the type you'd use for spa remit mainly. The smart I've not tried as I picked up on some reviews that it was poor, but do now own an alpine up, the twin rope version of the click up which is far and a away the best assisted lock belay plate I've used (Grigri and src) and it is very very versatile. It also can be used to belay dynamically, and in guide, can be clicked into a locked position in seconds, much much faster than tying off, can handle a wide variety of ropes and is great on abseil as you don't have to worry about Prussics ( I know that's not a major hassle but still...
CurlyStevo - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
ahh I see hadn't thought of that.
needvert on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

> If you are not guiding professionally with two seconds then using guide plates in the UK is a fairly poor idea and using them in Winter doubly so. They make things much harder work and reduce safety margins. Using one will probably just risk making you like another clueless SPA holder of the type that gives the qualification a bad name.

Why the reduced safety margin?

What's the difference between guiding professionally with two seconds and guiding recreationally with two seconds?

Just curious.
beardy mike - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to needvert: To be fair, read his profile and it'll all become clear ;)
The Ex-Engineer - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to needvert:
> Why the reduced safety margin?

All normal belay devices will slip at around 2-2.5kN thus making it pretty much impossible to shock load the belay anchors. With a guide plate that slippage at low forces does not happen and you can easily generate very much higher forces should a fall occur, especially when when there is slack rope in the system. Additionally, it is very easy for slack rope to accumulate as belaying with a guide plate is significantly more demanding both in terms of both concentration and physical effort.

> What's the difference between guiding professionally with two seconds and guiding recreationally with two seconds?

I don't really know as I don't think I ever 'guide recreationally', I am either guiding or I'm just going climbing for fun. If I'm going climbing for fun I'll have a massively different approach compared with when I'm getting paid and that approach includes what techniques I would consider appropriate and may choose to employ.
beardy mike - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer: Oh come off it. Why is it significantly more demanding? Does it really take take much more effort? I'd say the opposite to be honest! And as for the larger amount of force, can you please tell me where you get this from? Jim Titt did some tests for me on his pull tester and the results were really not particularly high as slippage occurs after a certain limit - they are by no means completely static!
jimtitt - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to mike kann:
> they are by no means completely static!

With a nice thick rope they are! Anyway there is a considerable difference between (more or less) controlled slip with a consistent braking force and suddenly changing from completely locked to not locked at all.
beardy mike - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to jimtitt: I stand corrected. So in your opinion does falling off with a loop of slack endanger the belay?
CurlyStevo - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to mike kann:
I think pulling the rope through the guide plate is harder work than belaying normally and when I've done it I use a fairly rounded HMS and 8mm ropes.
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CurlyStevo - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to jimtitt:
how can they be any more static than a standard belay on the thick rope, it works on the same mechanism doesn't it? (ie the breaking force is simply the brake line going through the friction grooves)
The Ex-Engineer - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to mike kann: Have you ever actually belayed two seconds climbing on single ropes? From these comments, I am beginning to doubt it. It is a tedious and not particularly pleasant physical workout for your arms and elbows.

I am aware of some of Jim's tests, as well the fact that real-world tests of an ATC Guide with a factor 1 fall generate forces of over 4kN with no appreciable slippage (see the 2nd para of the last post on http://www.mountainproject.com/v/atc-guide/106838345__2 - some of Jim's results are on the previous page).

The forces are not huge but they are still large enough to effectively half your margin of safety when it comes to your belay anchors. I consider that more than enough grounds to make guide plates a poor choice for general use on trad belays.
beardy mike - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer: it is true that on the more modern plates it is hard work with thick full ropes. With thinner full ropes its not so hard and with a kong magic plate it's actually quite easy on all diameters... As for doubling the forces, I hear what you say, but surely you're in trouble if your belay can't withstand 4kN? I mean a leader fall can easily generate more than that and assuming you're on a multipitch trad route, even as a guide there is a risk of generating a higher force. I know it's unlikely, but surely creating a belay from 3 pieces with a decent margin of safety is also unlikely to fail during any seconds fall.
scottie390 - on 05 Oct 2012
been using BD ATC guide over the past year ish, on single pitch trad, indoor and alpine mountain routes. quite happy with it. Only thing id say is just be sure how to lower someone on guide mode before you need to do it in anger.
beardy mike - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer: The other thing that bothers me about what you're saying is that effectively you would have to allow your second to climb up to the belay with a loop of slack and then fall off to create a factor 1 fall and that results in your 4kN load. In reality the fall factor would be much lower than this - usually your second does not fall off at the belay after you've been really lazy taking in rope, they normally fall off part way up the pitch with a load of slack out. So I guess the really pertinent question is what load does a normal seconds fall subject the belay to if they climb on a slack rope. Forgive me if my logic is flawed, but if a climber is 10m down a route, climbs 1 metre above the point at which the rope is tight and falls i.e. falls 2m, then thats a 0.2 factor fall. Lets say you get really lazy and let them climb with 2 metres of slack, then thats a 0.4. So your forces are going to be no where near the 4kN you state...
r0x0r.wolfo - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to mike kann: Yeah 4kn seems really low for a fallfactor 1
jimtitt - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to mike kann:
> (In reply to jimtitt) I stand corrected. So in your opinion does falling off with a loop of slack endanger the belay?

Not any belay Id be building for sure! Winter climbing Id probably have another opinion but then that might be why I dont do it.
jimtitt - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:
No, the mechanism is the fall force presses one rope against the other and the friction of nylon against nylon is nearly twice that of nylon against aluminium, the fall force is anyway vastly higher than the force you can get impose with your hand.
All guide plates lock up statically, the limit on the force you get is whether the ropes compress enough to change places so that the loaded strand is no longer on top of the braking strand, with thin ropes this occurs at worryingly low loads and with thick ropes at worryingly high ones, depending on what you worry about!
Guide plates are vastly overrated in my opinion since Im not a guide, and in fact Ive never seen a guide use one either. HMS all the way from what Ive seen.
Rockhopper85 - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to jimtitt: I just stick with an ATC, I love it it has and always will do what I need it todo. If abing into a climb where I might need to jumar to escape I use the gri Fri.
Scott_vzr on 05 Oct 2012
You don't need them for winter or SPA.

Frozen Ropes- save the money you don't need to spend and get dry treated or specific ice ropes. I have mammut ones and they have not frozen yet.
AWR on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to Boulderdash86:

I've got the Mammut Smart Alpine and I get on really well with it - given so far I've only used it on indoor walls. It's simple, effective and locks so holding someone working a route is easier.

I've also bought my Mrs the Mammut Smart (the single rope version of the Alpine) as I'm considerable heavier than her and she reported it was easier to hold and lower me with it versus her DMM Bug.
rgold - on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to MountainsAreBetterThanOffices:

For half ropes 8.5mm or less, the Alpine Up is far and away the best device available, and in particular handles much better than the Smart Alpine. (I have owned both devices, but sold the Smart after trying them both for a while. The Smart is not at all good for the simultaneous take-in-and-pay-out maneuvers required for half-rope belaying and is unpleasant for rappelling.)

The Up looks complicated but isn't at all. It feeds ropes to the leader better than any other device on the market, and you get solid locking on a single strand during falls. It's just a better mousetrap. Drawbacks are price, size, and weight, all of which are in the realm of gri-gri's. (The Up is, however, better than a gri-gri for pumping slack to the leader and for lowering, and of course you can't use a gri-gri on double ropes anyway.)

The Up can be used in "guide belay" mode, and seems better at that than the Reverso in the few times I have tried it. I agree with the other posters' criticisms of the guide belay. For guides and experienced climbers trying to and capable of moving very quickly it has its uses, but as the normal method of giving an upper belay I think the drawbacks outweigh the advantages.

Personally, I hate being belayed this way, as the belayer almost always ends up pulling on me, and experience in the use of the device does not seem to make belayers any better. Stepping down can be very hard, and if one has to step down from an overhang or back from a traverse move, the chances of getting pulled off by an unyielding belay are good when there is adequate communication and almost guaranteed when there is poor communication. Both of these situations often lead to the second hanging in space, which brings me to the next comment.

In some situations it can be very difficult to release and lower a hanging climber, and some users don't know how to do this and/or do not realize the potential for dropping the second while doing so. I also know of two cases in which it was impossible to unlock the belay and the belayer had to go through a full belay escape process to get the device out of the system entirely. (Fortunately, the belayers in question knew how to do this.) These cases happened because a fall pinned the device against a rock feature in a way that prevented the tilting required to release the belay.

Finally, the proponents of the guide plates, and there are many, encourage inattentive belaying by promoting the use of belay time for other activities such as refueling, hydrating, changing clothes, arranging dinner dates, updating stock portfolios, and god knows what else. Actually attending to the ropes becomes just one of a host of activities the belayer is engaged in, and no matter how many protestations to the contrary are offered, this cannot be a Good Thing.

On straight-up vertical-or-less routes in which the second does not mind climbing with tension some of the time and the belayer actually pays attention to belaying, the guide plates are ok.

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