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Gear Review - Black Diamond ATC Guide
Submitted By: John McNamee on Oct 15, 2006

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I've just added a new gear review. Here's the link to check it out:

Black Diamond ATC Guide

Previous gear reviews:

Black Diamond C3's

Toucan belay/Rappel Device

Let us know if you would like to see a particular piece of gear reviewed. Or, how about writing your own one!

Comments on Gear Review - Black Diamond ATC Guide Add Comment
By Eli Helmuth
From: Estes Park, CO
Oct 15, 2006
After having my new rope ruined and almost completely severed by a too sharp Reverso of my partner's (catching my lead fall, the brake strand cut over the sharp edge created by lowering/rappelling); I am never going back to that particular device.

I auto-lock belayed about 30,000' of rope(ouch) through my ATC guide this year thus far and can vouch for it's ease of handling in this mode as well as it's better grip for rappelling and belaying lead falls- so far the best on the market for this type of belay device.

In more than 15 years of using auto-lock belay devices, I've never had to release one while loaded, so not sure how important a feature this is? Depends on your partner and route selection, I suppose.
By Evan Burgess
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 17, 2006
I can't rate the ATC Guide quite as highly. I agree the added friction is really nice for catching big falls. My complaint is with the 2nding auto-lock mode. With a 10.5mm rope I find that their is so much friction that it is incredibly difficult to pull the rope through. I've been somewhat suprised with this problem as I don't expect BD to make faulty gear. Anyone know if I'm doing something wrong?

Evan Burgess
303-819-6673
By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 17, 2006
Try using a round-stock locking biner like the Petzl Attache for the brake in autoblock mode. I find it binds less when pulling up rope than an I-beam locker like the Black Diamond Positron.
By mschlocker
From: San Diego, CA
Oct 23, 2006
This device is my first autoblock belay device. Previously I employed the Munter hitch on multi pitch routes. The munter hitch, although many say it is too old school works very well and you can easily lower somebody. It is also very light. I was sold on the ATC guide however, when I saw how easy it is to set up a ratcheding pulley with one (not sure I will use this but it is cool). It is also cool that you can belay two seconds simultaneously and one can fall while the other climbs safely.

I like my ATC guide, however I feel it has too much friction in autoblock mode. I am using a 10.2 mm rope and round Petzl attache carabiner for the rope side of the device. My arms get even more tired now on long multi pitch routes, from bringing up my second. I cannot compare this to other devices as I have not used them. Try them out in the store if you are concerned with this.

On the plus side, it is a nice safety feature that you can take your brake hand off the rope for a second and it is not the end of the world. I am also now avoiding the rope twist that occurs on the Munter hitch if you keep your second tight on their way up.

Lowering somebody on this device is a pain in the butt. I use a loop of cord, spectra slings will fit through the lowering hole as well. It takes a lot of force to do this and a little while to set up. I would not recommend making a routine of lowering somebody on this device in autoblock mode, use another belay set up if you expect to need to lower somebody. Lowering somebody on a Reverso is even more a pain in the butt from what I have seen.

This device shines on multi pitch routes, however I would rather belay with a regular ATC for anything else due to the Guide being overly tight on the rope in my opinion. Maybe Black Diamond is anticipating everybody switching to skinny ropes in the next few years?
By saxfiend
Administrator
From: Decatur, GA
Nov 17, 2006
I have nothing but praise for the ATC Guide. Belaying is nice and reliable. Rapping is smooth and well-controlled, even with skinny doubles (which I found out to my relief rapping off in a downpour!). The guide mode is outstanding for bringing up a second.

For those having difficulty with feeding the rope in guide mode, here's a tip: use two biners through the rope loop. This makes life a lot easier!

JL