Saturday, 3 December 2011


This is the first of three blogs dealing with Self-Belay using well known devices that are available throughout europe.Though only one of them is a recognised belay-device,none of them are reccomended comercialy for self-belay systems.I have used them all at different times using my own rope-feed systems,and up till now none have failed me.How you use and rig them is up to you!

(They even make a shiny stainless steel one!)

The Troll-Rocker is a tough,lightweight,simple fall-arrest device with a "toothless" rocker-cam that goes back nearly thirty years and doesnt wreck your ropes.Its modern counterpart is the ISC-Rocker(above)which is based on the old design,with some inovative improvements.It is available from"International Safety Components,Ltd" a very fine welsh company that makes and sells loads of other great climbing kit.
The soloists rig is simplicity itself and starts with a D-Shaped Maillon on the harness, to minimise gear movement and provide a positive transmission of energies from the Rocker to the harness in the event of a fall.A short tough Tape-Sling connects this to a large Krab,which in turn holds the Rocker in place.The sling allso positions the Rocker high on the chest,well above the climbers centre of gravity.

This allows the climber to easily load and unload the device,and allso allows the device to "torque" freely and function quickly in the event of an awkward fall.It allso positions the Rocker to take an"over the shoulder" rope-feed from the climbers Sack or Rope-Bag (more on this later)The final addition to the system is a length of 2-3mm Shock Cord,larks-footed to the top of the Rocker and worn around the neck.The purpose of this is to keep the whole arrangement upright to the line of ascent,position the Rocker for an efficient rope-feed,give flexibility to the system,and finally, be weak enough to snap and not injure the climber in a fall.

When placeing protection the rope is simply pulled down through the device and clipped into an extender or whatever protection you are using.The "bitter" end of the rope is of course attached to a multi-directional "Starfish" anchor system at the start of the climb(see blog on multi-directional anchors).The other end of the rope within the rope-bag is fastened to another "Starfish" when the climbers reaches the end of his pitch,or is within a safety margin of 5metres of available rope remaining.

Starfish Anchor.

All of my ropes are 50metres long and marked at quarterly increments with "Beal-rope marker".With a distinctive safety mark at 5metres within each end.
All the self-belay devices in my blogs are chosen for their ability to accept a variety of rope diameters for multiple activities.And none of those mentioned have "teeth" that can cause damage to the rope-mantle.The Rocker can take ropes from 8mm to 11mm.I use 8.5mm ropes for Solo Alpine climbing and the heavier gauges for crags in UK summer and winter conditions.

Some people prefer a cylindrical shaped rope-bag suspended from the harness or attatched to the side of their sacks.

My preference is for a lightweight "drawstring bag" that can be worn on the back or packed into the top of ones alpine sack with the rope feeding over my right shoulder.Packing the rope into the bag is a simple matter of first,removing the kinks by pulling it through both hands.

Then simply push 18" bites of the rope-loop into the bag from right to left until it is packed.Dont attempt to fold the rope into the bag as this will cause it to "birdsnest" into a horrible mess.Allow the rope to fall naturally and it wil come out the same way nine times out of ten.

My own preference for a soloists rope system is depicted below,with a Perlon static pulldown rope running parralel to the dynamic climbing rope,and connected at each end with a double fishermans knot.

This allows me a full ropes length abseil and retrieval of the climbing rope when down.It allso allows the choice of retrieving the rope on ascent if i cannot (or do not wish to) abseil down to remove placed protection and anchors for whatever reason.Apart from allways being conscious not to Krab the Perlon rope into protection,and allowing it to run freely,i have never found it anything other than convenient.Others prefer it to be stored in the sack until required,and solo on a single dynamic rope.Its all a matter of preference and what you are comfortable with.

Good climbing,