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figure 8 v ATC


Original Post
Trey M · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 40

When I belay I usually use a grigri but I also have an ATC. My favorite belay device I've ever used was an old sticht plate. Is there any benefit to using a figure 8 as opposed to tubular belay devices or a locking assist belay device?

Thanks

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425

No...if there were people would use them still.

You'll find them popular with rescuers etc, or those that rappel alot. I'm sure some of the SAR guys can explain their preferences.

Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 266

I keep a figure 8 around only for long rappels so I don't get bounced around, but since it is not usually on my rack, when I do a climb with a long rappel, I usually forget to bring it anyway.

W.S. · · Montana · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 65

Figure 8's are still widely used in some parts of Europe, but as far as I can tell they have no real advantages besides being cheap and relatively easy to manufacture. Stick with an ATC.

Buff Johnson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2005 · Points: 1,145

The Rescue-8 serves as a lowest common denominator friction device capable for personal load, rescue load, and a multi-point load distributor that won't clutch rigging for a rescue-loaded anchor. The R-8 has ears for a rope lock-off, though it can lead to freezing the system if you hop an ear.

I believe the Figure-8 (w/out ears) offers you something if the rope is subjected to a crappy muddy environment that might otherwise foul up other equip. BD has theirs as the Super-8.

I prefer the Gri or the Guide, though if I had a choice for recreation.

Evan1984 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 30

8's are great for rapping in caving, ropes course, and rescue situations where they aren't called upon often for belaying.

They are great for fatter ropes and muddy ropes because you don't have to force them through the small slots.

They are a distant runner up for regular belay use. Also, to belay with them, it is best to just feed a bite through the small end and clip with a carabiner rather than try to belay in the rapping orientation.

Evan

Tony A. Davis · · Golden, Colorado · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 155

The 8 will also put the twisty kinky in your rope.

Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 266
Evan1984 wrote:8's are great for rapping in caving, ropes course, and rescue situations where they aren't called u Also, to belay with them, it is best to just feed a bite through the small end and clip with a carabiner rather than try to belay in the rapping orientation. Evan
That is what I have heard, use the small loop like a stitch plate, I have never tried it. Anyone?
Tony A. Davis · · Golden, Colorado · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 155

Yeah used to use the 8 as a sticht plate if I had an icy rope but unless you attach the 8 to your locker via a small piece of cord (like the ATC keeper cable does), it will move all around on the rope so belaying from above the 8 will drop down the rope unless corded, also all of those rounded surfaces of the biner and the 8 don't offer a lot of friction, or I should say a lot of bite.

Tyson Anderson · · SLC, UT · Joined May 2007 · Points: 120

I saw some people belaying with one of those big rescue 8 devices in maple canyon. They weren't even belaying out of smaller circle meaning it was threaded just like it would be if they were rappelling. Not surprisingly, one guy got dropped to the ground and everybody around that whole area heard it. Luckily there weren't any major injuries and they left soon after.

Come to think of it, these were probably the same people that almost hit me on the head with a mail bag full of rope that they threw down without warning at the same place in the canyon.

Tozankyaku · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 125
Tyson Anderson wrote: I saw some people belaying with one of those big rescue 8 devices in maple canyon. They weren't even belaying out of smaller circle meaning it was threaded just like it would be if they were rappelling.
The correct way to belay is with the small end and I find it best to clip a biner through the big end and my harness to keep it from riding up the rope while taking slack. You should never belay while in the rappel configuration.
TheIceManCometh · · Albany, NY · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 621

I use an ATC or a munter hitch (note a munter hitch will kink your ropes).

If I knew I had to do a lot of long rappells, I might take a figure 8 because it's larger and therefore will handle the increased heat generated during a rappell.

Austin Baird · · SLC, Utah · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 95
Joe Ludlow wrote: From my personal experience, 8's tend to be very poor for caving rappels due to the fact that they are difficult to lock off without gumming up the works (or if they are, please let me know how, I would be honestly curious). Frequently on caving you have to do a changeover from rappel to jumars, so using a rack would be preferable as far as I am concerned.


Eights are real easy to lock off. Email me if you want a diagram or pictures. bairdas AT gmail DOT com
TheIceManCometh · · Albany, NY · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 621

It is rare to see climbers belaying or rappelling with a Figure 8 these days, especially since 8s have been known to break through the sleeve of a locked carabiner (cross loading).

Guideslines...

1. To reduce the chance of cross-loading, clip your locking biner into the belay loop (never the harness & leg loops themselves).

2. Don't use a Figure 8

Here are some accident reports of Figure 8 / Locking biner failure:

Accident #1;

Accident #2

Figure Eight Descender

Nick Y. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 1

I learned to climb years ago on a figure 8 and have never felt the need to switch to an ATC. I currently use a Black Diamond Super 8. That being said, they aren't for everyone. To add some clarity to a couple of statements made above:

-Rappelling on a figure 8 is ridiculously smooth. It will NOT kink your ropes, at all, if you feed it as shown in the BD instructions linked below (such that your hand is out in front of the device). If you reverse the feed and the brake-hand side of the rope comes out toward you, you will get an epic rat's nest of a rope to deal with.

-Figure 8's dissipate heat from a rappel extremely well, too, due to a large surface area.

-The figure 8, and again BD super 8 in particular are a fantastic belay device IF USED PROPERLY. It is not "best" to feed the rope through the small hole - that is the ONLY way to use it as a belay device as specifically shown in the instructions. Used correctly it actually gets enough friction that it can be difficult to release after catching a fall.

-The cross-loading risk is VERY real. If you do not maintain tension in your set-up during the rappel, you must be cognizant of this. I cross-loaded mine on the first rappel of a 3-pitch climb and my heart stopped when I noticed it 20 feet in. I was very lucky and was able to get my feet planted, get some slack, and correct the configuration.

blackdiamondequipment.com/u…

I have no experience caving or dealing with muddy/icy ropes, so I can't comment on those. I have used one to rappel in a downpour (got caught on the wall) and it worked just fine. Bottom line, use what you have been trained to use and are comfortable with; this goes double for belaying since you're responsible for someone else.

Pete Spri · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 286

Eh, sounds like most of us are just americans that dont use them as sort of the standard default.

I've heard that some alpinists like them because they feed frozen ropes better, and that they can do better on smaller diameter ropes. If you do it right, there is also zero chance of dropping them.

I think there are some advantages. Personally, I dislike them for belaying, which is the biggest turn off, imo.

randy88fj62 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2010 · Points: 291

Figure 8's and similar rappel devices are used a lot in canyoneering because they are easy to rig and unclip while treading in a pool of water while wearing neoprene gloves. This is especially true in high flow water canyons. There are similar devices that offer varying friction options. These devices include the petzl pirana, sterling ats, rich carlson's totem, and others which I am not familiar with like the fisk for work at height jobs. Rock exotica has its own model as well.

In canyoneering figure 8's are also used for contingency anchors in lou of a munter mule due to the time savings during a single line rappel where the rigged 8 acts as a biner block.

I use a steel 8 specifically when canyoneering in Zion since there is a ton of sand on the ropes and a standard Al device can take a lot of wear during one trip.

I do not use figure 8's to belay people and would choose a munter instead. I would not use a munter for top roping all day as it would put a lot of wear on one section of rope that got the repeated use.

randy88fj62 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2010 · Points: 291
Spri wrote:Eh, sounds like most of us are just americans that dont use them as sort of the standard default. I've heard that some alpinists like them because they feed frozen ropes better, and that they can do better on smaller diameter ropes. If you do it right, there is also zero chance of dropping them. I think there are some advantages. Personally, I dislike them for belaying, which is the biggest turn off, imo.
A friend of mine who is a guide uses a camp ovo (or Kong GiGi.) I asked why he uses it and he replied that the rope feed is a lot easier than a standard tube device, especially when belaying from above with an autoblock. I went ahead and got myself one to play with to see if he's right. This I think would be the best middle ground as the slot openings would be wide enough to handle frozen or dirty ropes while accomplishing all the needs of rope management (rapping and belaying.)
ConstanceM715 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 0

Works for larger diameter of ropes outside of climbing environment as well.

Brad "Stonyman" Killough · · Alabama · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 5,785

Overall=ATC

The Ex-Engineer · · UK · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 20
Trey M wrote:Is there any benefit to using a figure 8 as opposed to tubular belay devices or a locking assist belay device?
IF (and it is a big if) you know what you are doing, there is a massive benefit to using a fig-8 - they allow you to give super-soft catches.

That said, you are unlikely to find many climbers who regularly use them for sport belaying and are expert in holding falls with them, apart from in some European countries.

I had the distinct pleasure of falling off a route in the Costa Blanca some years ago being belayed with one by an extremely capable female Dutch climber and can honestly say it was probably the best 'soft catch' I've experienced climbing outdoors.

However, despite recognising the clear benefits, I don't use one. With 17 years experience of using an ATC and a dozen years using a GriGri, I'd prefer to stick with them rather than try to learn another skill from scratch.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Beginning Climbers
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