Review Detail

Descending Tools
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Big heavy rope twister that works OK

I've had one of these for about 2 years. It has seen most use as a way to cut knot friction on a quick DdRT descent, but I've also used it some (and one of my grad students has used it a lot lately) as a standard SRT rappel tool.

It's big. This means it's a bit heavy and bulky to carry into the tree. This also means that it a) soaks up heat during a rappel pretty easily, and b) it's hard to see how it could ever be broken or damaged without dropping it 100+ feet out of a tree onto a rock.

It's a fixed-friction device; the only way you can change friction during a descent is to grab harder on the control end of the rope. In practice for tree climbers this isn't a big deal; trees are not big walls with huge changes in rope weight from the top to the bottom of the rappel. There are no built-in fail-safes when using it, so the user had better be pretty up on rappel technique before using it in SRT. As a backup to the Blake's hitch during a DdRT descent it is bulky and a bit fussy to set up (well, this could be said of any mechanical descender used in that context) but it can save a bit of wear-and-tear on a split tail.

The biggest objection to it as a rappel device is its habit, shared by all figure-8 type devices (including, I have heard, the Piranha) of twisting the rope. This can be annoying when flaking the rope for storage and when re-deploying the rope later.



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