Interesting review. On a formatting note though - please don't put pull quotes immediately preceding the actual quote in the text. It's really irritating reading the same sentence twice.
Kane19 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC Gear: Funny I saw this device for the first time this morning and then there's a review about it. My initial impressions were that I would prefer to use kit that can be used for many things instead of carry very specialist gear because I think the time required to rescue someone would be the same with both if you've practiced.
One thing I don't like about the article is that it gives the impression that novices are not clever enough to remember how to set up a hoist. I think there are many novice climbers who are extremely practical and mechanically minded who, given the situation of someone down a cravasse, would be able to work out an n:1 hoist system and get them out pretty quickly with no tuition.
In reply to UKC Gear: This piece of kit looked great and was easy to place, BUT...
The handle is a nice touch allowing you to pull on the small diameter cord without gloves just by wrapping it round the handle a few times.
The main problem came when trying to take it back off the rope. There was no way you could release the cams from the 10mm rope we were using without running it right off the end. The markings state that it can be used with ropes of up to 11mm diameter, but this isn't true.
The safety catch which slips into the body of the ascender is too long or the wrong shape. It is hard to believe that Mammut have released this onto the market without spotting this design fault.
In reply to UKC Gear: I think it would be worth mentioning speed somewhere. I've climbed for years and only rarely had to set up a hoist system and even though I know what I'm doing, it takes a little time to set it up. If your casualty has fallen down a crevasse and is up to their neck in ice cold water, even a minute or two could mean the difference between life and death.
Also, if you are self-rescueing and you are wedged in a narrow crevasse rather than hanging free, this system is going to be the muts nuts (assuming you can get your hand to your harness to unclip it).
I can imagine if you are a certified mountain guide you wouldn't have much truck with this kind of thing because setting up anything with the available gear is absolutely second nature but I think aside from the real professionals, most people would benefit from the convenience and speed of using it (no I don't work for Mammut sales dept ).
I don't think the average novice, under the pressure situation of having to rescue someone would be able to just come up with a functional hoist system after a few moments of thought. I think that is rather like saying "I'm sure someone who has only ever waded before can swim if we throw them in the deep end", if I was the novice, I'd rather have the arm bands... ahem... rescue device.
In reply to henwardian: Good points. If your lower body was wedged in a slot this device would make self-evacuation much easier. If somebody does fall a long way into a crevasse you would be pleased that you had brought this device with you! On the other hand its relatively rare for roped climbers to fall far down a hole.
Another user group who will like this device is Alpine rescue teams who are sent out to pull an unroped climber out of a hole. Not many of these casualties are as lucky as Joe Simpson!
In reply to Kane: Fair point, but pulling somebody out of a crevasse is actually very stressful and there are a lot of other factors to contend with; even stopping the fall in the first place is quite difficult, especially if you are on skis - skiing roped up is very difficult and should be regarded as a last resort in heavily crevassed terrain in poor visibility. Its important for the rope to be tied into your waist harness rather than higher up (such as with a full-body harness or with body-coils) because a high attachment point pulls you head first making it hard to brake.
I've had the privilege of adapting my techniques after coaching hundreds of people in rescue techniques and watching what works and what doesn't. i'm not saying that a novice can't work out how to create a pulley system, however without pulleys and a fair bit of trial and error it is unlikely that they will manage anything more effective than a 3:1 in an emergency. In reality, anybody who can stabilise the situation by creating an effective belay and attaching him/herself and the casualty to the anchor is to be congratulated - if the belay failed you wold probably both have ended up down the hole.
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