It is impossible to review a piece of kit without in some way referring to the problems it's meant to solve, and this is why I need to bring the Grigri into the dock. As a fully initiated member of the not diminutive group of climbers who have taken a flight with Air Grigri, allow me to explain. A Grigri locks up when it receives a sharp tug - in the same way as a car seatbelt, however, the Grigri struggles to know the difference between a tug that is a fall and a tug that is a belayer desperately trying to pull out an armful of slack. In a typical situation, a belayer trying to pay out slack quickly, and facing a locked Grigri will have no option but to hold down the cam lever with their thumb, completely opening the device - and if you happen to fall at this time, you're going to keep going until the lever is released or you hit the ground.
Clearly, an autolocking belay device that has the same functionality of a Grigri, but without the danger of frequently having to hold the device open to pay out slack is going to be a big hit. Enter the Edelrid Eddy: noticeably bigger and heavier than the Grigri, the Eddy has a familiar shape, but a little more complex. The device is opened by pressing a button and swinging the two sides apart to reveal a familiar looking arrangement. The big difference is that the release handle is connected to the cam, rather than being an extension of it. Cleverly, the way the handle is connected to the cam produces a failsafe in that pulling the leaver all the way in either direction results in the device locking - to release you must hold the handle at it's mid-point.
The big advantage of the Eddy is revealed when you start to use it.
Somehow, the device seems to recognise the difference between a fall
an energetic payout of rope - it locks cleanly during the former whilst
allowing the rope to pull through unhindered for the latter. The device
locks when you apply force through the brake-hand on the dead end, when
you are feeding rope through, the lack of braking force allows the
device to remain open. A proper sharp tug will lock the device even if
you're not gripping the dead rope, but you can unlock it, simply
at the dead-end will unlock the device and you can carry on -
alternatively, you can manually unlock the cam with your thumb - as for
a Grigri - but the design makes it impossible to hold the cam open in
this way - it's simply not big enough to hold.
As you might have gathered by now, I rather like this device. It is a genuine improvement: not only safer, but more effective at paying out - in other words it's both smoother and more grabbing at the same time. It works with ropes from 9mm to 11mm, and if I didn't have this one, I'd certainly buy one. Of course, nothing is perfect - it is quite bit heavier than, well, any other belay device - it's all metal (350g to the Grigri's 225g). It's bulky, and I wouldn't want to carry it while climbing anything hard. I think the more complicated lever results in abseiling/lowering demanding a little more skill - especially at first. It's more expensive than its rival (£70 to the Grigri's £45), and I'm not convinced that Kermit green is a very cool colour for climbing hardware - but when you start criticising colour, you know you're really scraping the barrel to find fault.
You can find more information about the Edelrid Eddy at www.edelrid.de
You can find more information about the Petzl Grigri at www.petzl.com
Editor's Note: We did a search of the internet for Edelrid Eddy Reviews.
Andrew Bisharat at Rock and Ice magazine didn't like it, in fact he was disparaging right off the bat, "The Eddy is no Grigri, and it costs twice as much. Need to read more? "
You can read Andrew's review here: www.rockandice.com
If you have used the Edelrid Eddy please feel free to add your comments to the forum thread associated with this review.
Adrian Berry has been climbing for over eighteen years, much of that full-time and he is now a professional climbing coach. He has competed internationally as a member of the British Competition Climbing Team, and sport climbed up to 8b+, and 8a onsight. In the trad climbing game, he has added many hard new routes from E7 to E10 in South Wales and the Peak District, many of which he had to develop specific training regimes in order to succeed.
Adrian is the co-author, with Steve McClure, of SportCLIMBING+ - published by Rockfax in December 2006. He is currently working on TradCLIMBING+ which is due to be published in 2007.