/ What sort of Belay Device do people like/should I buy next?
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.
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.
Reverso/atcguide, guide mode is pretty good.
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).
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.
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.
I'm perfectly happy with my ATC Guide
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.
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.
OP may as well stick with his petzl Verso which is perfectly adequate.
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.
ahh I see hadn't thought of that.
Why the reduced safety margin?
What's the difference between guiding professionally with two seconds and guiding recreationally with two seconds?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Not any belay I´d be building for sure! Winter climbing I´d probably have another opinion but then that might be why I don´t do it.
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 I´m not a guide, and in fact I´ve never seen a guide use one either. HMS all the way from what I´ve seen.
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.
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.
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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