/ Petzl Ascenders - novice questions

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DenzelLN - on 10 Sep 2017

Im relatively new to climbing, and i have been reading about ascending ropes etc. I thought it would be a useful skill to learn, i understand how to prussik and i will practice at some point.

My question is what are the differences between the petzl ascenders?

Croll, Basic, Tibloc, Shunt, Micro traxion?

Where would you use one over the others?

I understand the Tibloc to be an emergency ascender and the shunt as an auto bloc. What about the rest? Could you use two micro traxion's to ascend a rope for instance?
Post edited at 21:23
splat2million on 10 Sep 2017
In reply to DenzelLN:

The general differences between ascenders are size, shape, and security:
Basic and shunt (and the handle ascender) are quite big, making them easier to handle but heavier and more cumbersome to carry.
The shape of the micro-traxion is a pulley making it particularly useful for a hauling system (e.g. crevasse rescue), the others are all linear ascenders meaning the rope should be straight.
The shunt can slide down the rope as well as up, and so is more flexible but less secure (there has been an occasional accident because it slides down the rope if the device itself is grabbed during a fall). Some of the others also can theoretically fail if loaded upside down.

I use a micro-traxion in my crevasse rescue kit with prussiks and tend to carry it on mountain trad routes in case i want to ascend a rope (using the micro-traxion on the belay loop and a prussik for the leg loop).
I've not done it for a while, but when top-rope-soloing I usually use a shunt as my main ascender and back the system up with a handle ascender on a loose cows-tail on a second rope from the anchor.
I've also used a handle ascender on routes with fixed ropes on big mountains because it is easy to hold in big gloves, and easy to unclip and clip from one rope to the next.
The others I think are used quite a lot in caving and probably aid climbing, and I've not used them. I've found a combination of the micro-traxion and prussiks to be the most versatile and lightweight for most of my purposes.

When it comes to ascending a rope, you can use a combination of any two ascenders or prussiks - one attached to your belay loop and another attached to a foot-loop. I'm sure there are loads of YouTube videos of the best ways of doing this.

P.S. worth noting that there are other brands of ascenders other than Petzl!
purplemonkeyelephant - on 10 Sep 2017
In reply to DenzelLN:

> What about the rest? Could you use two micro traxion's to ascend a rope for instance?

Are you big-walling or working in rope access? Are you getting out of a crevasse or bailing on a sea cliff?

Every ascender has a pro/con to it, but essentially they all just grab the rope. What is relevant is the application you intend to use them for. As it is with so many things: the more you plan on using them the larger the weight cost it's worth taking for enhanced functionality. Emergency UK bailing - prussik cord. Getting out of a crevasse - tibloc/ropeman etc. Ascending fixed ropes - proper handled ascender.
Kevster - on 10 Sep 2017
In reply to DenzelLN:

Like splat, what I take depends on possible use/situation.
Don't forget a guide mode belay plate has capacity to be rigged for escapes and ascending too.
Prusiks normally always on my trad harness, chalk bag string is also use able, it's cord.
Prusiks and tibloc or ropeman if I'm just trad climbing in inaccessible places without expecting to need to climb a rope.
If I know the routes are overhanging, hard, or have partner who is pushing their grade for the crag, then more kit. Whether that's left on the ab rope or carried. Ropeman is handy here for pulleys and to carry with you. Grigri and shunt are great for leaving with the ab ropeand actually ascending the ab rope.
Personally I have never needed a proper handled ascender, I don't expect to need one often enough and can get by on the rare occasion I need to ascend a rope.
The best help I carry are radios and other friends in the area. Not always possible, but if you know you could be biting more off than you can deal with easly before you set off, they are invaluable.

Alun - on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to DenzelLN:

> I understand the Tibloc to be an emergency ascender and the shunt as an auto bloc. What about the rest? Could you use two micro traxion's to ascend a rope for instance?

splat2million's reply was very comprehensive but I'll add some specifics based on the products you mention.

The Basic and the Ascender are the general heavy duty ascenders used by many for jugging up fixed lines. If you need gear purely for this purpose, they are great.

The tibloc is an emergency ascender and should only be used as such. It's nice and light to have for such eventualities, but so is a prussik loop.

The shunt is kind of useful to have, not least because you can use it with one or two ropes, as an auto-block for abseiling or as an ascender, and it can be moved up and down the rope easily (useful for top rope soloing). It also doesn't damage the rope sheath. I find it a pain for ascending though as it doesn't pull through well automatically, unless the bottom of the rope is well anchored.

The microtraxion is a superb piece of kit. I use two for top-rope soloing (each on a separate ropes, each tied in slightly differently) and they move so easily up the rope that they are barely noticeable, and grab the instant any weight comes on them. On the downside, repeated use is going to fur up the sheath of the rope, and once locked they are tricky to unlock (need to weight the rope above them). But they weigh very little and are very versatile. Currently they are my favourite piece of kit!

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