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Are any of the new-school belay devices worth using? Also GiGi questions
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Jan 28, 2016
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-jul... ) 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).
Nathanael
From Riverside, CA
Joined May 27, 2011
256 points
Jan 28, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Outrage Wall. Potrero Chico, Mexico.
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. DrRockso
From Red River Gorge, KY
Joined Sep 3, 2013
185 points
Jan 28, 2016
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-jul... ) 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
Joined Jan 10, 2009
81 points
Jan 28, 2016
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).
Kent Richards
Joined Jan 10, 2009
81 points
Jan 28, 2016
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.
Nick Drake
From Newcastle, WA
Joined Jan 20, 2015
393 points
Jan 28, 2016
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.
Derek DeBruin
Joined Jul 12, 2010
506 points
Jan 28, 2016
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/mammut-s... 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.
Nathanael
From Riverside, CA
Joined May 27, 2011
256 points
Jan 28, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Profile
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:

Rock Climbing Photo: Anchor CAMP Ovo
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)


CAMP USA
Joined Jun 12, 2009
50 points
Jan 28, 2016
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...
Kent Richards
Joined Jan 10, 2009
81 points
Jan 28, 2016
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 ;)
Nathanael
From Riverside, CA
Joined May 27, 2011
256 points
Jan 28, 2016
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.
Nick Drake
From Newcastle, WA
Joined Jan 20, 2015
393 points
Jan 28, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Jose Cuervo Fruitcups dirtbag style
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.
doligo
Joined Sep 26, 2008
412 points
Jan 28, 2016
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

;)
bearbreeder
Joined Mar 1, 2009
3,068 points
Jan 29, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: GB atop p.1, still Looking for Trouble, Nov 2, 201...
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.
George Bracksieck
Joined Oct 4, 2008
1,296 points
Jan 29, 2016
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. fromtheestuary
Joined Sep 21, 2014
56 points
Jan 29, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: photo by Forest Woodward
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).
Scott Bennett
Joined Jan 9, 2008
1,361 points
Jan 29, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Me on the CCK
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.
Sam Fox
From Burlington, VT
Joined Sep 4, 2013
275 points
Jan 29, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: photo by Forest Woodward
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.

Rock Climbing Photo: The CAMP Ovo, with an extra biner for added fricti...
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.
Scott Bennett
Joined Jan 9, 2008
1,361 points
Jan 29, 2016
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



Rock Climbing Photo: kong gigi rappel
kong gigi rappel


web.archive.org/web/2012081908...

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

;)
bearbreeder
Joined Mar 1, 2009
3,068 points
Jan 29, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Outrage Wall. Potrero Chico, Mexico.
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. DrRockso
From Red River Gorge, KY
Joined Sep 3, 2013
185 points
Jan 29, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: photo by Forest Woodward
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.
Scott Bennett
Joined Jan 9, 2008
1,361 points
Jan 29, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: en route to wham ridge  Photo by Carl Schnitker
If an assisted braking device is worth the handling cons to you then go with the alpine smart. Use a mid to large HMS biner with a round cross section (like the old attache, petzl william, old rocklock, or Sterling Falcon, for example).

If your rig the alpine smart correctly, it will be just as easy to pull through in guide mode as a gigi and much easier than ATC guide. It also serves as a built in rap back-up so you don't have to deal with the autoblock fuster cluck.

If the pros of an assisted braking devices don't outweigh the cons for you, get either a CAMP Ovo or a GiGi. The leader gets the ovo/gigi and follower(s) gets the ATC Guide.

I personally own both smarts, an ATC, a Stitch plate, and an Eddy. Whats stays on my harness is one of the smarts and the stitch plate (I like the durability of it compared to an ATC). I typically use the smart unless I'm climbing on super fat/stiff ropes or if I want a dynamic belay. Each device has its own set of pros and cons. It is your responsibility as a climber to decide what will work best based on the situation at hand.
eli poss
From Durango, Co
Joined May 9, 2014
422 points
Jan 29, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Profile
Great discussion--

Here's another method of tying into the middle of a doubled twin or half-rope, in response to fromtheestuary's query above:

At the middle of your rope tie an overhand on a bite (leave the overhand a tad loose), with the resulting bite loop being about 14-18 inches in length. Now feed the bite through your harness's tie-in points, then feed the bite through the middle of the loosely-tied overhand. Now pull the bite through the overhand, cinch down the overhand, and then tie a half-grapevine around the two strands leading to the ends of the rope. Tighten it up and it's a pretty clean way of tying into the middle of the rope. Close it off with a 'biner (locker or non-locker) for an extra measure of security. It's a secure, dynamic connection, rather than two 'biners, which makes it a great choice if there's any chance of higher fall forces being generated.


Rock Climbing Photo: Overhand on a bite...
Overhand on a bite...




Rock Climbing Photo: Feed the bite thru the harness tie-in points, then...
Feed the bite thru the harness tie-in points, then back thru the overhand itself---the gray locking 'biner represents your harness's tie-in points. Note you'd tie this through both tie-in points, not your belay loop.




Rock Climbing Photo: Tie a half-grapevine with the loop, going around t...
Tie a half-grapevine with the loop, going around the two strands of rope (presumably going to your followers).




Rock Climbing Photo: Finish it with a 'biner if there's any question it...
Finish it with a 'biner if there's any question it might come undone (stiff rope, for example) or if you could take a lead fall onto it (climbing a short pitch of 5th-class).




Rock Climbing Photo: Tied correctly through a harness and finished with...
Tied correctly through a harness and finished with a locking carabiner.
CAMP USA
Joined Jun 12, 2009
50 points
Jan 29, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Me on the CCK
Aren't we missing the most simple and bombproof method of all?

Girth hitching the center of the rope through your harness. This way there are no carabiners and there is no way for it to untie.

This:
climbing.com/skills/how-to-tie...

Except through your two tie in points instead of your belay loop.
Sam Fox
From Burlington, VT
Joined Sep 4, 2013
275 points
Jan 29, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Profile
Yo Sam--Indeed, but Scott Bennett already beat you to the punch above! Great techniques, all of 'em, in slightly different applications... CAMP USA
Joined Jun 12, 2009
50 points
Jan 30, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Bouldering
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.


In the very rare instance that I lead on a doubled over half rope, I actually prefer to tie into the middle. My reason is any kink that develops in the rope (and my rope always gets pretty kinky) is easier to get out with the ends on the belayer's side. This also give me the option to have two followers each tied into a strand. My preferred tie-in knot for this is the bowline on a bight. It is just slightly little more complicated to tie than the alpine girth hitch (both requires you to step through a loop of rope). I'm sure the girth hitch works, but the bowline just makes me feel better. The method Camp USA posted is much easier if you ever need to tie (or untie) at a hanging belay though.
aikibujin
From Castle Rock, CO
Joined Oct 14, 2014
263 points


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