Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Faders "SUM" Review
Fader's SUM review:
Ropes have gotten a lot smaller in the last ten years. I normally climb on a 9.1 Joker, and it's just too hot for a Gri Gri to handle safely (Petzl says the same, but many people are using the Gri Gri on smaller ropes). The BD Guide works great for belaying the leader on skinny ropes and is my primary belay/rap device, but for sport climbing/mixed I like to have a full auto-lock device for belaying the leader, and the Gri Gri wasn't cutting it anymore. In Norway I saw this thing called a "SUM" that one of the guys in my clinic had. He didn't have the instructions for it, so we kind of screwed up using it, but it worked well enough that I went and bought one (thanks to Brad at Mountain Magic for the drop-off service!). Yep, I paid retail for a belay device, so no sponsor stroking going on here.
I've now used it a few times, and I'm pretty happy with it. If you read the instruction manual FIRST, grin, it's very easy to feed skinny ropes fast and safely, and it locks down easily without belayer input. It doesn't work well on any rope over 10mm, but who cares, I don't use fat ropes anymore. The design is really smart with a sort of double-cam locking action. Faders says the impact forces are lower than other auto-lock devices, but I don't see how that is true--I still wouldn't use it for climbing on gear. But for bolted climbing it grips well and--once I read the manual-- lowers well too. I see far more people using their Gri Gris incorrectly than I do people who know how to belay safely with them, and the SUM is open to that problem (DONT PRESS THE HANDLE TO FEED ROPE, NOT SAFE!) as well, but overall it's the first belay device I've used on skinny ropes that seems safe for the leader. It's not cheap (I paid about $80cdn), but it seems to work well so far. I'm going to keep using it unless some problem appears, so far it seems safer for skinny ropes than a Gri Gri. It's about time that there was a good autoblock device for skinny ropes. My rating is "pretty cool so far."
Posted by Will Gadd at 12:10 PM