Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: Petzl Ascension

I thought I would return to some of my adventurous kit, rather than the more military style gear for a little while. I've always been a scrambler, and a climber. Getting into high places and up tall things has been lifelong past-time. When I started to get into wall-climbing, and saw the cool kit available, I started expanding my collection of tools to get me up and down safely. I've already covered my climbing harness One such tool I've added to my armory is the Petzl Ascension which is a spectacular piece of engineering.The frame is made of a hard-anodised aluminium, which are colour coded for left and right handed use (the off-hand version looks exactly the same, but flipped.

It features a chrome-plated steel cam with bitey teeth with a nylon catch and a rubber over-molded plastic grip. It will take anywhere from an single 8mm rope all the way up to a 13mm, and the design of the cam includes a vent to self-clean muddy or icy ropes. For those who have never seen or used one of these, the idea is simple. with the rope fed into the bitey-cam's jaw, the sping-loaded cam is pressed against the rope, but due to the angles used, doesn't bite down when the rope is pull (or pushed) from top to bottom. It bites down when weight is applied bottom to top.

What this means is that when you are going "up" the rope, it moves freely, but doesn't move backwards. A safe method for ascension! Better still, the clever folks at Petzl have included a variety of attachment methods, to make this a very versatile tool. A small hole in the base facilitates a lanyard or foot-sling, (which -massively- improves the efficiency of my ascents, I've found). The main hole at the bottom connects to your harness in regular ascents, but between this, and the double set at the top, this piece can act as part of a self-belaying system or a hauling system, in conjunction with other similar tools.

This is not the kind of tool everyone will need or want, and does take some adjustment to not only use efficiently and safely but I've found that for hauling gear, or scooting myself up a fixed line, I couldn't ask for a cooler piece of kit. Its mountain-rugged, and hardy enough to take a 4-6kN fall, depending on the thickness of the rope you are using, and be sure to follow the Safety guide instructions as it has some limitations, especially with regards proper attachment and positioning. A very good piece of kit to have for multipurpose climbing utility!

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