UKC

Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device Review

© Tim Neill

The Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device mountain cragging in North Wales  © Tim Neill
The Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device mountain cragging in North Wales
© Tim Neill
This new device from WC is a “guiding” version of their popular VC Pro 2 device. “Guiding” being the description of the auto locking style of belaying, popular for safeguarding two following climbers simultaneously. This style of plate isn’t just the domain of instructors and guides but any climber embracing the full repertoire of climbing environments and requiring a “do it all” device.

The main attractions of this device are its no frills simple design and its low bulk….a far cry from the original Reverso. Although the unit is also pretty lightweight the device seems to be wearing well. As over the last month and a half it’s been in use probably every day with a mixture of guiding and personal climbing…so plenty of dragging wet gritty work ropes through it, being scuffed up against the rock thrashing around in some of N Wales’ finest chimneys as well as abseiling down sandy static abseil ropes in Pembroke and fielding plenty of lobs with a nice soft catch. My experiences of plenty of other similar devices has been much less positive as most other similar lightweight devices have developed a very sharp edge to the “live” side of the rope slot in this same time span with a similar amount of use…hardly good value!

Abseiling with the Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device  © Tim Neill
Abseiling with the Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device
© Tim Neill

The Pro Guide Lite also seems to securely manage the range of rope diameters that are stated on the side of the device…7.7mm and up. This is great news for any ice climbers, alpinists, trad rock climbers and instructors using fat “centre” ropes,  who want a single device to work effectively and safely in all those domains.

Abseiling with the Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device  © Tim Neill
Abseiling with the Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device
© Tim Neill

As a normal belay plate it works as well as it should for a modern device…ie slick to pay out, allowing for a reasonable dynamic soft catch yet providing enough friction for reassuring control of the rope by an attentive belayer. And to do this well over such a range of ropes is a major plus.

Using the device with two seconds on the Freney Pillar of Mont Blanc  © Tim Neill
Using the device with two seconds on the Freney Pillar of Mont Blanc
© Tim Neill

Belaying Right Wall - the classic E5 on Dinas Cromlech  © Tim Neill
Belaying Right Wall - the classic E5 on Dinas Cromlech
© Tim Neill
In auto locking mode it’s slick to pull the ropes through without pumping your triceps…even on fatter ropes. And with only a subtle tilt of the device ropes can be paid back out if a following climber steps back down a move or two. With the rope locked up during a fall or if someone is taking a rest it’s as easy as it gets with these devices to lower rope back through the device. This is aided by the “release slot” which will take a full range of karabiner sizes to force the tilt of the device and allow rope to pass easily back through. A far cry from early models which needed modifying with cord through unnecessarily small slots or were simply a one way valve without some kind of major MIA problem solving scenario.

One design flaw of the device is the diameter of the eye that is clipped to the anchor during direct/locking mode. Unfortunately it seems that it’s too narrow to pass the barrel of any locking karabiner through it and definitely not the Synergy Locking karabiner that Wild Country recommend. This is an important consideration when orientating the karabiner to stay shut via the “gravity fed” concept. The only alternative is to rotate the karabiner back through the anchor every time which is a faff more often than not if the anchor is a weighted equalised sling or cordelette. This further becomes a pain when you’re retrieving the device from an anchor that 3 of you are hanging on unfortunately. Anyone converting to this device from the Reverso 2,3 or Black Diamond Guide will pick up on this fairly quick.

Hopefully Wild Country will address this simple alteration with the Pro Guide Lite 2. This will no doubt put the device at the top of the pecking order in the multi use market nailing all the requirements of a “do it all” device for the adventure climber.

Wild Country Pro Guide Lite Belay Device  © Wild Country
What Wild Country Say:

Our new advanced belay tool demonstrates engineering excellence. This remarkably lightweight device has been trimmed of all excess.
Its deep ribbed grooves handle a vast range of ropes from 7.7mm alpine cords upwards. Operated in ‘guide mode’, the pro guide lite is perfect for bringing up twin followers and locks perfectly with every fall. With a larger ‘release slot’, suitable for a karabiner, the tool is simple to release under load.
For use in mountain and crag environments by alpinists and adventure climbers, the pro guide lite is ergonomic, smooth and simple to operate.

Available in a set with the Synergy Lite.

Features: Hyper lightweight design, Guide mode, Karabiner release function, Efficient breaking slots

PRICE: £24

More Info: Wild Country Website



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23 Jun, 2014
I'm a little confused by this: "One design flaw of the device is the diameter of the eye that is clipped to the anchor during direct/locking mode. Unfortunately it seems that it’s too narrow to pass the barrel of any locking karabiner through it and definitely not the Synergy Locking karabiner that Wild Country recommend." The first photo accompanying the article shows a DMM Aero HMS (?) clipped exactly where the article says it can't be. If Tim is talking about the hole used to release the plate when locked then that needs to be made clear.
23 Jun, 2014
I think he is saying that the hole is too small for the a screwgate to be rotated through the hole as the barrel of the screw gate will be too fat. Therefore you have to rotate it the other way around the carabiner, which can be more of a pain than it sounds.
23 Jun, 2014
Tim, one thing worth pointing out is that the device (like the BD one) has the main hanging hole at a right angle to that of a Reverso. This has implications for the way the thing sits at the belay. Any chance you could comment of the easy of pulling a single rope through the device in comparison with a BD or Reverso? The Reverso is poor with fat ropes. Also, what's the friction like compared with the other two devices? Rapping out od a trees on a single ice line normally gives a good measure of this. Thanks.
23 Jun, 2014
Yes, this is exactly what Tim means. Thanks, Jack
23 Jun, 2014
Good Lord, that would be a test, not a review! Send me one and I´ll tell you exactly how much force it needs to pull through in guide mode and more importantly how powerful it is stoppng a big fall.
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