Are any of the new-school belay devices worth using? Also GiGi questions


Original Post
Nathanael · Jan 28, 2016 · Riverside, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 171
Ok. I've read 100 pages of MP posts over the past year about "fatal" flaws and failure modes and bad documentation and random troubles and etc etc for most of the new era of assisted locking belay devices like the Mammut Smart, ClickUp, MegaJul, etc. I'm feeling pretty disillusioned.

I currently use an ATC guide and climb on 9.4-10.2mm ropes. I regularly climb in a party of 3 using two single ropes and like to use "guide mode" to belay both followers concurrently. My main complaint with my current setup is how much drag there is using 2 fat ropes in guide mode; if the anchor is a bit low or the stance is bad it can be difficult to give a good belay. Additionally, it'd be nice to have assisted locking on the lead belay.

What do I want? I thought something like the Alpine smart was supposed to be the magic bullet but I'm wondering if that's 95% marketing. What about the Kong GiGi + a GriGri? Are there hidden failure modes for the Gigi, because apparently as a consumer it's my job (not the manufacturer) to know the failure modes of every device on the market and then try to deduce if they could impact the device I own. ( mountainproject.com/v/mega-... ) Also, am I going to need to try every shape of locking carabiner on the market before I find one that allows my device to work as intended with my specific ropes? (various threads on the Smart and Jul).

DrRockso · Jan 28, 2016 · Red River Gorge, KY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 168
Gigi is a good device if you plan on belaying two climbers at once a lot or use fat ropes. One advantage is you can still take slack in on one line while the other line is weighted. For lead belaying and belaying only one second I prefer the gri gri. Carrying both is no big deal, the gi gi is super light. If I don't plan on belaying two seconds I usually just carry ATC guide and gri gri.

Kent Richards · Jan 28, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 3
Nathanael wrote:Ok. I've read 100 pages of MP posts over the past year about "fatal" flaws and failure modes and bad documentation and random troubles and etc etc for most of the new era of assisted locking belay devices like the Mammut Smart, ClickUp, MegaJul, etc. I'm feeling pretty disillusioned. I currently use an ATC guide and climb on 9.4-10.2mm ropes. I regularly climb in a party of 3 using two single ropes and like to use "guide mode" to belay both followers concurrently. My main complaint with my current setup is how much drag there is using 2 fat ropes in guide mode; if the anchor is a bit low or the stance is bad it can be difficult to give a good belay. Additionally, it'd be nice to have assisted locking on the lead belay. What do I want? I thought something like the Alpine smart was supposed to be the magic bullet but I'm wondering if that's 95% marketing. What about the Kong GiGi + a GriGri? Are there hidden failure modes for the Gigi, because apparently as a consumer it's my job (not the manufacturer) to know the failure modes of every device on the market and then try to deduce if they could impact the device I own. ( mountainproject.com/v/mega-... ) Also, am I going to need to try every shape of locking carabiner on the market before I find one that allows my device to work as intended with my specific ropes? (various threads on the Smart and Jul).
Are you familiar with the ATC Guide's failure mode when belaying 2 followers simultaneously? Edit: It's mentioned in the user guide -- no need to deduce...

Seems to me that every tool in the world has failure modes and the key is knowing and avoiding them.

If the only problem you have with the ATC Guide is belaying 2 followers on fat ropes, what about using thinner ropes?

Kent Richards · Jan 28, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 3
Nathanael wrote:Also, am I going to need to try every shape of locking carabiner on the market before I find one that allows my device to work as intended with my specific ropes? (various threads on the Smart and Jul).
If I were concerned about it, I'd start with the carabiner that the manufacturer recommends for the device (such as with the MegaJul).

Nick Drake · Jan 28, 2016 · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 413
The gigi is great for two followers, I also like it on longer alpine climbs where there are fast moving sections within pitches. Use a full round stock pear bine to really take advantage of it (new attache sucked).

If the pitch ends in a traverse be aware that any "guide mode" device may not lock reliably.

Derek DeBruin · Jan 28, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 445
GriGri works great for party of 2, especially if the terrain will let you simul-rap. It's my go-to for single rope, lead or top belay.

I like the MegaJul best as far as lead belaying goes, but you need some pretty skinny ropes for me to like it in plaquette mode. Don't get me wrong, it works, but it's not as smooth as a reverso or atc-guide in my opinion.

Haven't used a ClickUp. Don't really like the Smart--clunky and a bit jerky in use.

GiGi works best for fatter ropes. If you're only belaying one follower, you need to rotate the carabiner and capture both strands entering the device to prevent a potential failure method with skinny ropes and sideways loading.

Lately, in party of 2 I give the leader a plaquette of some kind (GiGi or atc-guide) and the follower a GriGri (if simul-climbing) or MegaJul (no simul-climbing). For party of three, leader gets a plaquette and followers get an ATC or MegaJul/GriGri.

Nathanael · Jan 28, 2016 · Riverside, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 171
Kent Richards wrote: If the only problem you have with the ATC Guide is belaying 2 followers on fat ropes, what about using thinner ropes?
I mean... $400 for 2 new ropes doesn't really seem equivalent to $10-50 on a belay device.

If I were concerned about it, I'd start with the carabiner that the manufacturer recommends for the device (such as with the MegaJul).


Threads like this mountainproject.com/v/mammu... are what make me hesitant. Multiple people who tried 4+ biners before finding what they like. Why can't Mammut do the legwork for me? I guess I have bearbreeder and others who have done it, so I can just ask them. But it just goes back to some frustration for companies hyping devices but not even making it clear how to get the most out of them.

CAMP USA · Jan 28, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 0
Nathanael wrote: Are there hidden failure modes for the Gigi
There's one often-overlooked potential failure mode for the Gigi or for the CAMP Ovo. If belaying from above using only one strand of rope, make sure to clip the "brake" carabiner around the plate itself, or into the hanging carabiner above. Otherwise there is a very small potential for the brake carabiner and rope to make a 180-degree twist and invert.

Do this:

Anchor CAMP Ovo

or this:



The Ovo functions very similarly to the Gigi. It can be used to belay a leader or rappel via one or two strands, but its true value is in belaying from above. With two strands of rope (one or two followers) the setup doesn't require any special carabiner arrangement. (See video demo)


Kent Richards · Jan 28, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 3
Nathanael wrote: Why can't Mammut do the legwork for me?
Perhaps they have...

"For optimal results of the SMART
ALPINE, the use of the Mammut Element
SMART HMS or a similar symmetrical HMS
carabiner is recommended. "

Nathanael wrote: I mean... $400 for 2 new ropes doesn't really seem equivalent to $10-50 on a belay device.
Yeah, but what about all the time / frustration of finding a replacement for the Guide? Maybe that's worth something in opportunity cost...

Nathanael · Jan 28, 2016 · Riverside, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 171
CAMP USA wrote: There's one often-overlooked potential failure mode for the Gigi or for the CAMP Ovo. If belaying from above using only one strand of rope, make sure to clip the "brake" carabiner around the plate itself, or into the hanging carabiner above. Otherwise there is a very small potential for the brake carabiner and rope to make a 180-degree twist and invert.
Thanks, I did stumble upon this. Seems like the fix is pretty straightforward. Also I didn't realize Camp made a version. Can anyone weigh in on any differences?

Kent Richards wrote: Perhaps they have.. "For optimal results of the SMART ALPINE, the use of the Mammut Element SMART HMS or a similar symmetrical HMS carabiner is recommended. "
Fine you got me ;)

Nick Drake · Jan 28, 2016 · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 413
Nathanael wrote: Thanks, I did stumble upon this. Seems like the fix is pretty straightforward. Also I didn't realize Camp made a version. Can anyone weigh in on any differences?
Kong has a raised rib on the center. If you have two followers and follower A falls the rope for follower B is still free. You can still take the rope for follow B and they continue climbing.

doligo · Jan 28, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2008 · Points: 212
I've had an envy of MegaJul and have been thinking of ditching my Mammut Smart for it till I learned that Megajul has really high friction in plaquette (a.k.a. "guide") mode.

If you want to save your elbows, carry a Gri Gri. ATC Guide has possibly the worst friction out there, even if you set your belay high and are only belaying one person.

bearbreeder · Jan 28, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 25
for thick fuzzay ropes on 2 followers theres only 2 choices .... the gigi (ovo) or the alpine smart

the smart pulls easier on thick fuzzy ropes IMO .. the channel depth is greater so theres less friction when pulling through

most common autoblock devices have similar "failure modes" ... which is a non issue if you know about em and take precautions

also with the smart and the gigi ... i would not depend on 2 of the 3 common autoblock release mechanisms, which means escaping the belay becomes more complicated ... which you should be very proficient at if one is bringing up 2 followers as they are basically "guiding" at that point

personally i use the smart ... the ease of pulling ropes as fuzzy as my beahs on autoblock trumps any other issues

mammuts biner recommendation is also shiet if youre using stiff 10mm+ ropes .... you want the petzl williams with it ... but buy up all the old style ones you can as the new williams is going hot forge, which means sharp edges after good use

why manufacturers dont stick to round stock for heavy use belay biners is beyond me

;)

George Bracksieck · Jan 29, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 1,125
According to manufacturer instructions, the GiGi DOESN'T require a backup for lowering the second climber when using guide mode.

BTW when I belay up my second, I prefer to redirect the rope through the anchor (if it's above me), using a Sticht plate, tube device, or even a Gri. Setting up a guide-mode belay attached to a power point created with a cordelette is more time-consuming. And if you don't want to drop your second when lowering him/her with an ATC or Reverso in guide mode, you must go through the hassle to create a backup. This danger/design flaw is discussed in another MP thread.

fromtheestuary · Jan 29, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 50
Here's a question that arose in my mind from that CAMP video. He says he is following on a doubled half rope. Obviously the leader tied into the two ends, but what configuration did the follower have in terms of tying in? Rescue 8 with two lockers attached to belay loop? Figure 8 on a bight with two lockers? Just curious if I ever had to improvise in a situation like that.

Scott Bennett · Jan 29, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 945
fromtheestuary wrote:Here's a question that arose in my mind from that CAMP video. He says he is following on a doubled half rope. Obviously the leader tied into the two ends, but what configuration did the follower have in terms of tying in? Rescue 8 with two lockers attached to belay loop? Figure 8 on a bight with two lockers? Just curious if I ever had to improvise in a situation like that.
I like to girth hitch myself into the middle of the rope. Feed a bight of the rope through your belay loop, then put it around your whole body. The only downside here is that you can "untie" without quite a bit of slack (to reverse the process).

Otherwise, figure 8 on a bight with at least two biners (opposite and opposed non lockers would work also).

Sam Fox · Jan 29, 2016 · Burlington, VT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 210
Hey Nathanael,

I have both sizes of the Mammut Smart Alpine, as well as both sizes of the megajul, and a number of different ATC guide style devices. I do a lot of climbing (200+ days a year) and the majority of the time I'm belaying partners from the top..

First off, get yourself a set of half ropes. They make life exponentially easier when you have two followers. Also, half ropes give you hella options when it comes to clipping pro. They're generally great and way better than single ropes IMO.

As far as drag goes when you're belaying from the top (or milking the alpine cow as my guide friend likes to say) I would say the Mammut smart creates the least friction/drag of all the devices I've used. I do agree the Mammut smart takes a pretty specific 'biner, but that's pretty easy to get worked out. Further the smart alpine makes a great all around device once you get it dialed, and the fact that it's somewhat auto-locking on the rappel really rocks.

Scott Bennett · Jan 29, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 945
I've also used the CAMP Ovo quite a bit, it's my go-to belay device for longer routes. It's so much easier pulling the ropes through while guide-mode belaying, my elbows can save their energy for the actual climbing.

A few considerations: there's no keeper loop, so be careful not to drop it while rappelling. Also, it provides less friction than a reverso or atc guide.

Fortunately, there's a single solution to both of these problems! I like to use an extra biner while rappelling, clipping through both strands of rope (but not my belay loop). This extra biner does not have to be a locker, but should be a similar size and shape as your main rappel biner.

The CAMP Ovo, with an extra biner for added friction.

This adds friction, making it much easier to manage steep rappels on skinny lines. Also, you can develop an order of operations when attaching and detaching the ropes for rappel, so that the device is never loose.

When attaching the device, I have it clipped through one of the "side holes" (where you'd clip it for guide mode) to my belay loop, with the locker. I then thread the ropes through and clip the non-locker. Now the device is attached to the ropes, and so I can unclip the locker from the side hole and clip it through the ropes as well. Ready to rap!

When detaching, simply reverse the process. Unclip the locker from the ropes, and then back though the side hole. Then unclip the non-locker and stash it somewhere (I just clip it to the other end of the ovo). Now you're off-rap.

Hope that helps, lemme know if you need clarification.

bearbreeder · Jan 29, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 25
Scott Bennett wrote:I've also used the CAMP Ovo quite a bit, it's my go-to belay device for longer routes. It's so much easier pulling the ropes through while guide-mode belaying, my elbows can save their energy for the actual climbing. A few considerations: there's no keeper loop, so be careful not to drop it while rappelling. Also, it provides less friction than a reverso or atc guide. Fortunately, there's a single solution to both of these problems! I like to use an extra biner while rappelling, clipping through both strands of rope (but not my belay loop). This extra biner does not have to be a locker, but should be a similar size and shape as your main rappel biner. This adds friction, making it much easier to manage steep rappels on skinny lines. Also, you can develop an order of operations when attaching and detaching the ropes for rappel, so that the device is never loose. When attaching the device, I have it clipped through one of the "side holes" (where you'd clip it for guide mode) to my belay loop, with the locker. I then thread the ropes through and clip the non-locker. Now the device is attached to the ropes, and so I can unclip the locker from the side hole and clip it through the ropes as well. Ready to rap! When detaching, simply reverse the process. Unclip the locker from the ropes, and then back though the side hole. Then unclip the non-locker and stash it somewhere (I just clip it to the other end of the ovo). Now you're off-rap. Hope that helps, lemme know if you need clarification.
this is the way kong recommends to rap with the gigi ... basically a carabiner brake

the downside is that its very hard to boink up a bit and test yr setup before taking off yr safety ,... so extra visual inspection is wise

kong gigi rappel

https://web.archive.org/web/20120819080940/ kong.it/doc412.htm

does camp recommend rapping "ATC style" for the ovo?

;)

DrRockso · Jan 29, 2016 · Red River Gorge, KY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 168
I personally use the Kong atc style and put a quickdraw from my belay loop to the top hole as the 'keeper loop' it's preferable to have gloves because there isn't as much control as a standard atc.

Scott Bennett · Jan 29, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 945
I'm not sure what CAMP officially recommends, but I don't use my Ovo in the way illustrated in that Kong graphic. I use it "ATC style". I have plenty of friction when rapping on ropes down to 7mm, using that extra biner as shown in my earlier post.

When rapping a single line, for example while simul-rapping, I might even add a third biner for even more friction.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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