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Best assisted braking for multipitch/alpine?

Original Post
baffledsloth · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5

I have a GriGri 1 and I love it. I recently ordered a 9.5mm rope though, and I don't think it's going to work with the grigri 1. Plus the GriGri is heavy. Anyway, I'm just wondering about some opinions on assisted braking devices for multipitch and alpine stuff. If you don't use one at all and aren't interested in one I'm welcome to read opinions about that too. To me it just makes a lot of sense to have a device that can work if your belayer is incapacitated. 

Anyway, I'm primarily looking at the Mega Jul because it seems like the lightest, cheapest solution. It seems like the combo of DMM Pivot + Megal Jul is pretty unbeatable for a multipitch setup. Both climbers can rap, you've got assisted braking, and you can easily lower the follower if need be. Anyway I appreciate any and all comments.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

While not recommended by Petzl, your 9.5mm rope will work just fine with your GriGri. If its a dry-coated rope, be careful about lowering (the dry coating makes the rope pretty slick when its new).

As to your questions:

For regular multi-pitch, i use my grigri2.

For alpine, atc-guide. 

Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,205

I've used a grigri 1 w/ a 9.1 mm rope many times and have had no problems. For my 9.5 mm rope, the device is wonderful.

BigRed11 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 713

MegaJul all the way - thing is so light you'd think it was made of tin foil

Runner up is Alpine Smart

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

Grigri2. I would not trust a megajul or smart to lock w/o a hand, that makes them useless for simul climbing. 

I actually prefer rappelling first on one strand with the grigri and a biner block to a normal tube device. 

Robin S · · OR · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 30

There's a lengthy threat about the mega jul. My experience is that it is okay. It's very light, does a good job auto locking on my 9.2mm rope, and works decently in guide mode. Downsides are that it sucks to rappel (I flip it so it doesn't auto lock and back it up with an autoblock), lead belaying can be tricky and it confuses partners. That said, for now still use it for multipitch. May start using my new grigri2 soon though.

Josh · · Golden, CO · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 990

+1 for the Mega Jul with the Alpine Smart as the runner up (BigRed1 said it right).  The Jul is soooo light and compact, and both the Jul and Smart require the same thumb-hook technique that perhaps does take some getting used to but quickly becomes automatic.  I've had partners pick up the Jul's technique within a pitch or two.

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70

If you are using the Megajul for lead belay, and the Pivot for top belay and rappelling, you'll find that a good combination, and it's only 2 grams heavier than the Alpine Smart Belay in the large size. Kind of a shame it requires two devices to do this. If you want just one, go for the Alpine Smart Belay.

Emmett Lyman · · Somerville, MA · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 480

I'm with Robin - the Mega Jul is probably what you're looking for, but it's definitely quirky. I think of it as a great idea that's 80% baked... and the 20% quirkiness (the things Robin mentioned) are enough that I stopped using it after a couple seasons. Notably, my partners are much happier as a result.

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 295
Nick Drake wrote:

I would not trust ... to lock w/o a hand. 

Scary right out of the gate...

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70
Emmett Lyman wrote:

I'm with Robin - the Mega Jul is probably what you're looking for, but it's definitely quirky. I think of it as a great idea that's 80% baked... and the 20% quirkiness (the things Robin mentioned) are enough that I stopped using it after a couple seasons. Notably, my partners are much happier as a result.

Yeah I agree, it's kind of a one trick pony. Which is why I think user baffledsloth wants to use the DMM Pivot in combination with it. I personally think top belay/guide mode is unusuable with it. With the recommended carabiner holding the rope in guide mode the friction is incredibly high and unacceptable. Using a Metolius Element carabiner improves it significantly, but it's still noticably harder to pull rope through than any other device. You'll have climbers elbow in no time pulling rope through it. And rappelling in brake assisted mode takes a lot of practice to get good at it. And even then it's still pretty challenging to do it smoothly. I'd hate to have to do that on questionable anchors. 

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 125

I use the Alpine Smart and love it.  It works in guide mode, you can run 2 ropes through it so you can rap on two strands, it works pretty much like a tube device (with a few quirks for feeding rope).  Depending on the biner you pair with it, you caan get more or less braking and holding assist (fatter = more).  In the gym, if I am climbing on someone else's fat rope, I borrow a Gri-Gri since it feeds a bit smoother at the limits, but after that, I think it is a great device.  

bttrrtRock Charles · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 5

Madrock lifeguard is lighter than a grigri, very compact and seems to work flawlessly. The down side of course is rappelling, but an atc is pretty light. 

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483
Healyje wrote:

Scary right out of the gate...

I didn't mean during normal lead belaying for christ sake! I still belay with the grigri as I would with a tube device, brake hand does not leave the rope.

I'm referring to the second leaving the device on the rope while SIMUL climbing so that they can take in slack quickly while getting up to the next stance quickly. In my experience to keep moving smoothly as a team it works best if the follower climbs quickly toward the next piece of pro taking  in any slack generated, cleans the piece while paying slack back out.There may be a point in those movements when you just have to take both hands off the rope to make a brief move. Obviously you're already increasing your risk greatly by simul climbing, the grigri just adds a little more piece of mind. 

Robert Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 156

Another nod for the Lifeguard. Small and light. I've only had mine a few months but really like it so far.

Daniel Joder · · Barcelona, Spain · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

How about the DMM Pivot and the REVO as a combination. Unfortunately, the latter has been delayed until this winter. This is what I am looking at.

Jeremy Kasmann · · Denver, CO · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 0

The Juls are pretty weird, far from "unbeatable".  I like the grigri2 except when using twins.  

Firestone · · California · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 449

The megajul is super cool. It's so small you forget you have it and you can buy 2 for less than a grigri2. They are still tube devices and any device can fail so always control the brake strand or tie off the device.

 I like to rappel in the assisted brake mode, some people turn it around so it doesn't lock up and use a prusik. The trick is the angle of your brake hand, higher and your can rap smoother. On dead overhanging climbs you can get stuck.

I also find that guide mode is smoother with thinner ropes and when the belay device is higher above you. With a 9.5 It's a great option. 

They also have the microjul if you like to climb on small doubles. I got both for light alpine gear but use my grigri2 regularly.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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