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Belay Devices, Ascenders and Pulleys


Belay Devices

Belay devices range from the least equipment intensive (the body belay) to high-tech metal alloy pieces of equipment. Regardless of the belay device chosen, the basic principal remains the same—friction around or through the belay device controls the ropes' movement. Belay devices are divided into three categories: the slot, the tuber, and the mechanical camming device.




  • The slot is a piece of equipment that attaches to a locking carabiner in the harness; a bight of rope slides through the slot and into the carabiner for the belay. The most common slot type belay device is the Sticht plate.
  • The tuber is used exactly like the slot but its shape is more like a cone or tube.
  • The mechanical camming device is a manufactured piece of equipment that attaches to the harness with a locking carabiner. The rope is routed through this device so that when force is applied the rope is cammed into a highly frictioned position.
Belay Devices

Slot, Tuber and Mechanical camming device

Descenders (rappel devices)

All belay devices can also be used as descending devices, and most modern climbers use their belay device for both purposes.

When body belays were the norm though, many climbers carried a figure-eight for rappelling.

Figure-Eight

Figure-eights

Ascenders

Ascenders may be used in other applications such as a personal safety or hauling line cam. All modern ascenders work on the principle of using a cam-like device to allow movement in one direction. Ascenders are primarily made of metal alloys and come in a variety of sizes. For difficult vertical terrain, two ascenders work best. For lower angle movement, one ascender is sufficient. Most manufacturers make ascenders as a right and left-handed pair.

Ascenders

Ascenders

Pulleys

Pulleys are used to change direction in rope systems and to create mechanical advantage in hauling systems. A pulley should be small, lightweight, and strong. They should accommodate the largest diameter of rope being used. Pulleys are made with several bearings, different-sized sheaves (wheel), and metal alloy sideplates. Plastic pulleys should always be avoided. The sideplate should rotate on the pulley axle to allow the pulley to be attached at any point along the rope. For best results, the sheave diameter must be at least four times larger than the rope's diameter to maintain high rope strength.

Pulleys

Pulleys

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