What belay/rappel device do you use?

Neo
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What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by Neo » 27 May 2018, 19:06

G'day

New to canyons and abseil this 2018.
I trained with a Petzl Reverso, tried a figure 8 briefly.

Collecting my gear I picked the smaller Petzl Verso and love it for abseiling. Didn't need the extra bumps of a Reverso.

Also now have an Axis 8 to practice with sometime as they are commonly used guiding.

What is your favourite device?



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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by T2 » 27 May 2018, 20:19

Great question Neo (and glad to hear you've discovered the wonder of canyoning).
The styles of devices you are using are reasonably common, although I'm not a big fan of either. The Reverso / Verso are both examples of devices that usually get referred to as ATC (because that's the name of the first version developed by Black Diamond). These devices are primarily designed for belaying a climber. They're very good for this use, and obviously climbers then use the same device to abseil off a cliff. There are a number of major downsides for canyoning though. Firstly, they have no way of adjusting friction one on rope. They also require you to undo your 'biner when getting off rope, which means they are often dropped to the bottom of pools in canyons. They're also not particularly kind to ropes and can get quite hot on dry abseils.
The Figure 8 style descenders are also popular, particularly with beginners / commercial groups / school groups / etc. This is because they're very cheap and quite simple to use. Again, they do the basic job well, but don't provide much of what most canyoners want from their devices.

Personally, I used the Kong Hydrobot for many years. When abseiling on double ropes in wet Blue Mountains canyons it is quite a good device. Unfortunately, I find this device can struggle when abseiling single rope, which I increasingly do. As a result, I rarely use it anymore.

My current favourite device is the Sqwurel. It is one of several canyoning-specific descenders that have been developed in recent years. It operates like a mix between a Figure 8 and a rack. Best of all, it allows you to add and remove friction while abseiling. This is very handy on longer drops, where the hanging rope makes things very slow at the top, but quite fast at the bottom.

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by Neo » 27 May 2018, 20:36

Ok. I can see how a SQWUREL offers lots of friction options! The shape looks weak, but I'm sure it's strong. Did consider getting an 8 with hooks.
Have a diagram in my files of a dozen ways to rig a regular 8.

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by T2 » 27 May 2018, 20:40

Neo wrote:
27 May 2018, 20:36
Have a diagram in my files of a dozen ways to rig a regular 8.
Yes, most devices can be rigged a range of ways. It is also worth having a device that can be used to belay, as part of a haul system, and a range of other emergency settings.
The thing that makes the Sqwurel good in my mind is that you can change rigging during the abseil. Other devices require you to rig a particular way then stick with it for the whole drop. That said, I still don't think it's perfect. If there was a perfect device we'd all use it. Instead, people make choices based on their own experiences until they find something that gets the balance right.

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by geoffmallo » 29 May 2018, 15:18

I've started using the critr2 throughout this last season. Like the sqwurel you can adjust friction on the go. You can also just open the biner to release the rope, without taking the device off. You can use the centre slot for a belay or top belay setup (single rope only).
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Critr 2
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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by T2 » 29 May 2018, 15:38

Geoff, I'm keen to hear more about your experience with the Critr. I do know it's very popular among serious canyoneers in the US. There have been some supply issues more recently, but apparently Imlay Canyon Gear is taking over the production: http://canyoncollective.com/threads/critr-update.25354/.

For others, I've attached a diagram that shows the many ways the Critr can be rigged for abseiling. There are multiple friction settings you can use when getting on rope, then variations of all once descending to change friction levels.
critr.jpg
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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by Bayjam » 29 May 2018, 20:51

Im a big fan of the Sterling ATS. It has similar usage capability to the critter with additional belay options. It's so easy to get on and off rope and the unit is connected to the carabiner so you can't drop it or lose it when unhooking in water. It has horns to control descent on - the - fly but it doesn't have legs like the critter which can get caught on gear. It's just as easy to use double rope as well as single rope. Anyway.. I've had it for a while and I love it.
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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by DaveJones » 29 May 2018, 23:40

I use the Kong Hydrobot for most stuff.
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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by T2 » 30 May 2018, 12:14

Yeah, the Hydrobot is a good workhorse for our canyons -- particularly if you're just doing double rope abseils.

I have both the ATS and Critr 2 on my list to buy though. I'm keen to play with both, given the good things I've heard. That said, I do abseil on single ropes most of the time these days.

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by Neo » 30 May 2018, 15:40

Interesting to hear people don't just abseil on a 'belay' device.

So far I'm happy with the Verso. Cheers

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by Neo » 30 May 2018, 15:41

Although an ATC doubles as a device for top belay and use in a haul.

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by Flynny » 03 Jun 2018, 11:35

I'm still on the Kong Robot (orginal hydrobot design) I like it for all the reasons tim states about the hydrobot plus it can be used as an ascender which is much easier to use than prusiks.

I dislike it for the reason Tim states( ie it's a little fast on skinny single ropes and while you can rig it through the biner or on oposite side to add a crap load of friction that twists the rope hellishly).

The other disadvantage of it over sqwrel or critr is the ease of locking off.

My poor old Robot is about to get rested (will keep it on the harness asa spare and an ascender option) I think I'll go with the critr2

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by tom_brennan » 04 Jun 2018, 08:50

I "just abseil on a belay device"!

I've largely used an ATC for the past 5 or 6 years. They are cheap, lightweight, have pretty good friction across a range of ropes, have other uses (belaying), and the rope doesn't twist much.

I used a Hydrobot for several years before that, but with skinny ropes it was too fast, and the extra friction options are not great.

I have various other devices but they mainly get pulled out for training days, and rarely go on trips. I have a Petzl Pirana for single rope trips.

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by marilyn_scott1950 » 04 Jun 2018, 11:54

I'm thinking about getting a Petzl Stop for SRT canyoning (I mainly want it for caving but with some leaders using single ropes in canyons these days the PitStop I've always used just isn't going to cut it - particularly on a Tendon rope). Have you got any opinions Tom on use of the Stop canyoning, just as a straight descender, I'd use something different for belay device.

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by T2 » 04 Jun 2018, 13:39

Marilyn, I'd be curious how you find the Stop. I can imagine it would work well for caving, where you generally rig pretty direct drops. I do wonder how it'd go with canyoning. It's pretty big and bulky compared to most canyon descenders, but it's actually how the moving parts handle sand and grit that I'd be most curious about.

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by marilyn_scott1950 » 04 Jun 2018, 18:14

I'm going to test run one in a month or so, they have to be pretty robust for caving with all the mud and grit that you get in caves but will take a closer look. I know someone who used one on the big drop at Pierces Pass and they were pretty happy with it. Because I'm considering retiring the PitStop, I need to look around to see what (if anything) will do both canyoning and caving.

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by tom_brennan » 05 Jun 2018, 07:46

I'm not at all familiar with the Stop, but like Tim, I'd question whether it would be much good for general purpose canyoning. It seems to require 2 hands to operate, and this would make the awkward starts that you regularly get in Aussie canyons difficult.

Maybe there are some cavers lurking on the forum who could give us a more informed opinion?!

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by Simon Hager » 05 Jun 2018, 08:32

I have never used a Stop but I have seen people using them on vertical rescue training days and I know several cavers that use them. They do need two hands to operate so the start of many canyon abseils would be difficult.

The parts that wear in the Stop were designed to be user replaceable because caves are very tough on descender. Once a Stop gets worn it will no longer auto stop which is why some people have named them a "Go".

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by marilyn_scott1950 » 05 Jun 2018, 10:03

Thanks Tom and Simon, will road test one and see how I go.

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by Brian Evans » 07 Jun 2018, 09:52

I'm another one from a caving background, although also from a climbing background.
I primarily use a hydrobot for canyoning, but find it too fast for single, small ropes. It's great on double, wet rope though, and the ease of unclipping is beautiful. Locking off it pretty easy.
A Stop (or equivalent) is by far the best tool in caves.
They are very respectable in canyons so long as you're on single rope. Last July I showed a bundle of international cavers through Juggler as part of the International Congress of Speleology. Because they were travelling with their own gear, and familiar with caving gear, I rigged for single and encouraged them to use their Stops (mostly). No stop user had difficulties with the abseils.
Now these are mostly folks accomplished with rope work, but not all were.
The Stop is bulky, but certainly copes with mud and sand, etc - in fact canyons are nowhere near as tough on gear as most caves.
They do not necessarily stop, on all ropes, or after much wear, but do slow you enormously. They are very easy to lock off (essential for re-belays in caving, useful for adjusting rope hang and removing tangles when first down)
They also do not really need two hands when on awkward terrain. You can take your braking hand off, because the autostop will look after you; you can take the hand that manages the autostop off, and with fast canyoning rope, feed yourself down a bit; or you can take _both_ hands off and either stop and sort things out, or tick down slowly (if you're on fast rope).
Another bonus is that you have a built in bottom belay/safety prusik because the device will at least slow you to a crawl, even if you are unconscious!
They are very useful for belaying, tensioning a tyrolean and even work moderately well as an ascent device.
They can be rigged without going fully around the top bobbin for less friction when on gentle ground (but you can't change it on the fly).
In short, they're good for canyons if you are prepared to spend, and have another device for when you need to double rope.
I'm not sure that I'd get one for canyoning, though, I suspect something like the Critr, Sqwurel or ATS will do as well (or nearly) without the cost and bulk.

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by Nadav » 08 Jun 2018, 01:03

I use an hydrobot girth hitched to my harness (and girth hitched to the hydrobot) for when I want to self belay with a prussik
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If I don't need to self belay I attach it to my harness like so (with biner locked obviously)
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When I need it out of the way I can then just clip it onto a gear loop rather than have to detach it from myself and risk losing it
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For those who say it runs too quick on single strand, I wonder, have you tried this way? I actually find this has more friction than going double
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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by bjorniam » 13 Jun 2018, 15:48

Wow I'm out of the loop on all these fancy belay devices. This all makes for interesting reading!

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by Flynny » 23 Jun 2018, 08:28

T2 wrote:
22 Jun 2018, 12:45

One other question -- -- but I'd love to hear more about why you think the Robot is better than the Hydrobot. I haven't used a Robot, so I don't have any first-hand experience of how they differ.
For one they are symetrical so you can rope up right or left handed without needing to unscrew the gate and flip it. Not a huge deal but occassionally I'll swap brake hands depending on the obsticals on the abseil

Two, the friction hooks are more practical in they don't let the rope slip off them so easily when you are using you brake hand to push off the wall or something.

The down side is they are a little fas on skinny ropes and while you can rig it for a crap load of extra friction it set up twists the rope like a bitch

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by T2 » 25 Jun 2018, 11:12

Flynny wrote:
23 Jun 2018, 08:28
For one they are symetrical so you can rope up right or left handed without needing to unscrew the gate and flip it. Not a huge deal but occassionally I'll swap brake hands depending on the obsticals on the abseil
That's a really good point. It's one of the biggest weaknesses of the Hydrobot. Most descenders can simply be flipped around to be used with the alternate hand. It's not just useful for awkward abseils, but could be essential if you injure your dominant hand. I know of someone who completed Davies Canyon with a badly broken abseil hand. Having a device that can easily be used with the alternate hand is pretty vital.
Flynny wrote:
23 Jun 2018, 08:28
Two, the friction hooks are more practical in they don't let the rope slip off them so easily when you are using you brake hand to push off the wall or something.
Yeah, I really don't trust the extra friction hook on the Hydrobot for exactly that reason. It pops out far too easily.

Sounds like I should add the Robot to my collection of descenders to play with and pick from depending on the trip.

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Re: What belay/rappel device do you use?

Post by chunderfuzz » 16 Aug 2018, 21:17

Have been using the hydrobot, I’m finding it a bit too fast on my skinny canyon rope after a bit of use (8.3 canyon fire)

How does the critr go with thinner rope?

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