There was a wide variety of cool climbing equipment introduced at the Summer OR show this year. Some new and updated cams (always exciting!), belay devices, rope grabs and so on. Of course not all of it is truly new, there’s a little of the usual copycat or one-upmanship going on as well. If you’re interested in new helmets and harnesses they’ll be found in the next report so stay tuned.
To get us started let’s look at a bunch of new belay devices and then go from there.
Edelrid Giga Jul:
Edelrid is expanding their JUL line of light-weight stainless steel belay devices with the introduction of Giga Jul. Unlike other such belay devices the new Giga Jul has an innovative slider that allows the device to be switched from an assisted braking mode to an un-assisted mode. Designed with experienced climbers and alpine environments in mind, the ability to bounce back and forth between the two modes makes it a quite versatile tool.
Of course it has the standard guide mode for belaying a second with the same backwards looking eye as the Mega & Micro Jul’s. Designed to accommodate ropes between 7.8mm and 10.5mm it’ll work well with skinny singles and doubles but not fat cragging ropes. Though why anyone would be using a 10+mm rope this day in age is beyond me. Lastly, only the wear surfaces of the Giga are steel , the sides of the body are aluminum to keep the weight down. It still falls a bit on the heavier side at 100g though. The Giga Jul will retail for $50 USD.
Updated BD ATC-Guide & New ATC-Alpine Guide:
The versatile and popular ATC-Guide is getting a bit of a makeover for next year and a new device will be added to the line. So instead of having a single belay device that’s tries to work for all rope types from a fat single to thin half ropes BD will have two different devices. One that’s set-up more for single ropes (ATC-Guide) and another that focuses a bit more on thin half ropes and twins (ATC-Alpine Guide).
The new ATC-Guide will be about 8g’s lighter than the current version and has a slightly reduced rope range: 8.1mm to 11mm instead of the current 7.7mm to 11mm. Already known as a great device for larger diameter ropes the updated version will be more optimized for 9 to 10mm ropes. Of course all the other features that made this a popular device haven’t changed. The device will come in grey or black to start.
The new ATC-Alpine Guide is basically a smaller version of the ATC-Guide. Designed to work with ropes in the 6.9mm to 9mm diameter range it’s been optimized for 8.1 to 8.5mm ropes. A popular size range for half ropes. The device is also a bit lighter than its bigger brother at 73g. Still heavier than the Reverso 4 though which weighs about 59g. The ATC-Alpine Guide will come in a bright green color to start.
Both the ATC-Guide and the ATC-Alpine Guide will retail for $30 USD.
Climbing Technology Click-Up+:
Climbing Technology has updated the unique Click-up assisted braking belay device with the new + version for 2019. With an eye to making the device a little easier to use and safer they’ve added what’s called the V-Proof system. Similar to Mammut’s Smarter device, the V-Proof is basically a plate that maintains a minimum angle between the climbing end and brake end of the rope to ensure that the assisted brake will engage. So, even if the belayer is feeding slack and isn’t in brake position the device will engage. A great feature!
Other changes include a slightly different geometry that’s supposed to make paying out rope a bit easier, a different side plate design that works better with fatter ropes for use in the gym (up to 11mm instead of 10.5) and it’s a hair lighter at 110g over the old 118g. Like the previous model the device will still function if the rope is fed backwards and it utilizes the same “click” locking system. Some great updates to a solid belay device.
DMM Dragonfly Cams:
DMM is jumping into the micro-cam business with the introduction of the new Dragonfly cams. Ranging in size from a miniscule 7.4mm to 28.3mm the new Dragonfly’s will come in 6 different sizes with a color scheme that matches with the existing Dragons cams. The three smallest cams (size 1: green, size 2: red & size 3: yellow) cover new ground for DMM in the 7.4 to 15mm range while the three larger sizes (size 4: blue, size 5: silver and size 6: purple) fall into the same range as the small end of the Dragons cams of the same color.
The green Dragonfly is actually smaller than the black Alien, Metolius 00, the grey C3, etc, making it the smallest certified cam on the market. Of course it’s only about 1mm smaller than the other guys. The Dragonsfly’s are generally about 1kN stronger than the competition’s cams by size but also slightly heavier. Just by a few grams mind you. Other features include a narrow head, a flexible stem, and extendable slings. No lobe stoppers though. Of course the workmanship and attention to detail on these cams is exceptional as we’ve come to expect from DMM.
Black Diamond C4 Cams – Update:
Black Diamond is updating their hugely popular C4 line of cams with a variety of improvements, some of which are cam size dependent. To start, the cam lobs have been sculpted, removing redundant material to lighten up the cams. Despite appearances, the lobes are still a little different than those used on the Ultralight’s though. This allowed a 10% weight savings over the current C4’s. Then on the larger end of the spectrum the #4, #5 & #6 cams have an innovative new trigger keeper that locks the cam in the fully retracted position for easier racking. Gone are the days of jamming a small stick through the lobs. Finally, BD also made the triggers a bit wider for easier handling on the larger cams as well. One thing that isn’t changing is the price.
Other Devices & Equipment
This Personal Anchor System (PAS) or positioning lanyard is very similar to Petzl’s Connect Adjust though the actual mechanism is a bit different. The Swing has also been built to the UIAA’s brand new specification for Belay Lanyards (UIAA 109). The lanyard is basically a short section of 9.7mm dynamic rope with a lean adjuster that resembles a belay device in guide mode. Adjustable from 20-100cm it’s a little more intuitive and easy-to-use than Petzl’s version though it’s also slightly heavier: 145g instead of 125g. All-round a really nice PAS which will likely be quite popular. Not currently available with a rappel extension. MSRP: $50 USD.
The Spoc is basically a Micro-Traxion. It performs all the same functions in a similar manner though there are small differences when you look closely. Designed as a directional pulley for use as a progress capture during improvised glacier rescue, hauling or as an emergency rope ascender. The Spoc has a small, high efficiency aluminum ball bearing pulley with a retractable toothed cam. While the pulley is smaller than that on the Micro-Traxion, Edelrid assured me that it’s still more efficient. It’s definitely lighter than the competition at 60g instead of 85g.
Other features include a comparable ultimate strength to the Micro-Traxion (15kN*) and a rope diameter range of 7-10mm though it’s also suitable for use with Edelrid’s 6.5mm Rap Line II. For comparison Petzl recommends a rope diameter range of 8-11mm for their device. With a suggested retail price of $100 USD the Spoc’s also less expensive. Anyway, very similar but not the same. It would be fun to test the two devices head-to-head when they’re available.
*I expect that should the toothed cam be loaded more than 4-6kN it will sever the rope, an issue with all such devices.
Beal Tract Up:
Beal is introducing a new rope grab type device that they’re calling the Tract Up. It’s going to be sold as a stand-alone unit and as part of a new glacier rescue kit (this kit will be part of an upcoming OR Report). The Tract-Up is made up of a fixed stainless steel wheel with a small ribbed aluminum lobe. Like all such devices the rope can move freely in one direction but is pinched if pulled in the other direction. While it’s been designed to work with 8-10mm ropes Beal has indicated in the literature that it can also be used with Beal’s 5mm Back-Up Line in an emergency. It does not indicate what the capacity would be in such an application though. I will be looking into this aspect of the device further.
Similar to all such rope grabbing devices like the Ropeman, Micro-Traxion, etc, it has a maximum working load of 2.5kN and a breaking load of 4kN in blocking mode. Basically a function of the rope sheath capacity more than the device itself. The Tract-Up weighs 80g and will sell for $50 USD.
Sterling Hollow Block 2:
The hugely popular Sterling Hollow Block will be updated for 2019 to improve durability. The current version of the hollow braid personal prussic cord is woven from aramid fibers. And while it works quite well, the fibers tend to wear with use which got Sterling thinking about alternate materials. The Hollow Block 2 will be made from Technora® which should provide a significant increase in durability while maintaining the same performance as the current model. The price won’t change.
DMM Phantom HMS Locking Carabiner:
DMM is introducing a new small and lightweight locking HMS carabiner for 2019. Not revolutionary of course but worth mentioning as it’s about the same weight as the Petzl Attache but of course features DMM’s iconic smooth action. Just a nice carabiner!
Well that’s it for this write-up. As mentioned above stay tuned for the next one: Helmets & Harnesses.