/ Mammut Smart - what's the catch?
I forgot my ATC yesterday at the wall and so borrowed my partner's Smart. I was completely converted. It just seems to be so well thought out. The action is very similar to an ATC so no concerns about making a mistake when switching between devices. The motion for paying our slack is just brilliant. You use your dead hand thumb under the hook to push it up and all the while you can keep your hand on the dead rope. really intuitive and simple. It wasn't great for lowering but I guess that's just practice.
So what am I missing? Why would anyone buy a grigri, other than they bought one before the Mammut came out and are now used to it?
I agree. The GriGri is too big and heavy and the action is too dissimilar to that of conventional devices. The Smart and the Click-Up are much better options.
Does it fully lock off? I suppose that grigris come into their own when you're belaying people working their projects and basically there is an awful lot of them hanging around, resting, looking at the holds etc etc. With a grigri you can take your hands off (yes - of course in a perfect world you never would), pour some tea from your flask etc. without worrying too much about it.
No catch really. I've got a Smart and love it. It can be a bit sticky paying out a fat rope, and lowering smoothly takes a little practice. But it's great as a 'safer ATC' sort of belay device without having to learn anything new or carry extra weight. I love my (much lighter) wife belaying me with it on sports routes for that extra degree of confidence.
The locking mechanism on the smart and click-up are open, which is a concern. Of course the same is true of a conventional belay, so I can see why people who want a a braking assisted device closer to what they are used to like it.
Personally I'd still go for a gri-gri, as what some see as a strength I see as a weakness. Click up and smart are too similar to normal belays for my liking. They require a modification of your existing technique which I'm not comfortable with, when I'll often be switching between the two types. With a gri-gri its so obvious you are using 'another' device, that for me, I see less chance of a cock up. Horse for courses.
I'm considering a gri-gri for my girlfriend belaying me on top rope.... in this application I'd go gri-gri everytime.
You're telling me! Whenever my mate TJ lowers me with his Smart I go from more or less stationary to free fall several times in 35m. His excuse is that he's trying to feed the twists in his rope through the device...
The Click-Up certainly does, you can indeed take your hands off.
Can you explain, I'm not sure what you mean of why it is a concern?
Sorry, I don't understand that either.
But if you just use the Click-Up exactly as you do with a normal device then it works. So how can you cock up? This seems to me the big plus about it. Suppose you forget you're using it and think you're using a conventional belay plate -- so what, it'll still work and still lock fine.
"With a grigri you can take your hands off (yes - of course in a perfect world you never would), pour some tea from your flask etc. without worrying too much about it."
Put a knot in the rope below the Grigri and it's reasonably safe to do that. Then again, you can also tie off an ATC and do that perfectly safely as well.
I bought and used a Smart for the first time this week and have similar thoughts. My initial impression is that it's brilliant!
Coming from a DMM bug, the transition to using the Smart is simple and intuitive, although there are a few (very) minor technique tweaks I need to get used to. Time will tell just how much I like it, but my initial summary is:
- it's intuitive to use
- it's light
- it seems to do exactly what it says (I.e. Locks itself off when the rope is loaded)
- it massively reduces the risk of anyone getting dropped
- it's dirt cheap
I accept that Gri Gri's (or similar) might suit dedicated sport or indoor climbers, but as a general all-rounder I can't yet see any reason why my Smart won't become my single rope tool of choice.
The locking mechanism of a gri-gri type device is enclose, for a click-up or smart or not, they are therefore more susceptible to interference.
Ok, maybe shouldn't have mentioned the click-up as it is the Smart I have used. It does require a modification of your conventional technique technique, I'm surprised the click-up doesn't. If you accept that it does, then it's obvious what I mean.
Yep of course, but look around a sports crags and you'll see lots of people NOT doing the sensible thing! ;)
The main reasons the GriGri is so popular is because it captured the market at the right time and gained popularity so a lot of people have now invested a lot of time and money into these particular devices and now feel obliged to defend them. I also seem to recall it was marketed as a "hands free device", thats certainly the impression I was under when I bought it. The modified method of belaying which came about because all of a sudden someone decided they were not hands free after all put me off them altogether and it's worth noting that this method was introduced by climbers and NOT Petzl to the best of my knowledge.
In the right hands the GriGri is brilliant, but it's still heavy, cumbersome, expensive and counter intuitive to use. I don't think it's inherently a dangerous device but it is most certainly the one that is most easy to get wrong.
He's now being forced to use his Grigri Jon after I nearly shoved the Smart where the sun don't shine for the 20th time last week. Bush nearly threw it in the river at St Leger ;-)
Well at least if he's using his grigri he won't have twists in the rope.
Try a Click up. The belaying action is identical to a normal belay device and lowering is easy and very controlled. It would be very hard indeed to drop someone and once it's locked you can take your hands off (but don't let the belay police see you!). I tried a Smart, but with that fiddly handle thing, it is much less like a normal belay plate; I didn't like it. The Click up seems the obvious choice for someone who wants more security than a normal belay plate gives but really doesn't want to relearn how to belay from scratch with a grigri.
I use the old wild country SRC, in fact I have a spare waiting if this one ever wears out as WC don't make them any more.
I find it great but it does sometimes have problems with twists and it usually affects the lowering off.
One of my mates uses a smart and the one down side he has pointed out to me is the increased wear on the karabiner. The smart pushes the rope through the krab at quite a tight angle which he thinks adds extra wear. His old belay krab has a got an obvious groove several mm deep from just one season and his rope is consequently covered in that horrible aluminium residue. He uses a steel krab now which solves the wear problem, but negates the weight saving.
Try a Click Up at the wall because then you'll learn good not-clipping-too-high habits after the tenth time the bloody thing locks up when you're trying to clip, and your partner then has to fiddle for ages to get it to unlock again.
(Sample size of two belayers, both experienced regular users of the device)
Happened a couple of times, then no problem once you get used to it. One of the best bits of kit I've ever bought.
I use the Alpine Up, which is the Click Up for half ropes. (Nothing better for half ropes, in my opinion). I have a lot of experience with it and I'd say short-roping is simply not an issue; even if the device is locked up, which almost never happens when you know how to handle it, it is very fast to release (again, if you know how).
I think that one reason some people lock up the device is that the belay with it in the standard palm-down belaying position used with ATC-type devices. For half-rope handling, I much prefer having my brake hand palm-up, and this position has the additional benefit of making accidental locking even rarer and releasing even easier. With an ATC, the palm-up position has the disadvantage of weakening the climber's grip on the brake strand, but with the assisted locking of the UP, this is not an issue.
The drawback is that the belayer does have to drop their brake hand below the device to initiate a catch, and therein lies a trap for the inattentive. This isn't a problem for me personally, because I learned to belay and climb years before inattentiveness stopped being perceived as a fatal failing and began to be viewed as something nearly inevitable that required a technological solution.
It's worth noting that Mammut also do the Smart Alpine which can be used with double ropes. It's very slightly larger and heavier than the regular Smart, but does the job beautifully and makes belaying a double rope system so much less stressful than when using a conventional ATC.
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