Friday, July 24, 2009

Petzl Basic Ascender AKA My new best friend

Allowing someone to hold your rope is a pretty big deal, both literally and figuratively.

It's difficult for me to allow any old Joe or Jane belay me, even if they claim to climb. Maybe I have some trust issues buried deep inside, but the fact is that if you don't own a GriGri how can you really be sure your new found belayer has got you? Not to mention the fact that trying to find a reliable climbing partner is like selling items on Craig's List. Everyone is down to meet up, but chances are they just flake out.

I say skip all the worry and BELAY YOURSELF!

......Enter the Petzl Basic......

As you can see from the pic it's a very simple to set up. I fixed a rope from above (I used my wife's car as an anchor) and allowed the slack to rest on the ground cloth. Locking carabiner through the top connects to your belay loop, approach wall and climb. That easy. After a few practice falls you will have the confidence to solo any route, it's just like you are on top rope.

As with most climbing partners, the basic and I quarreled over a few minor issues. The one for me that sticks out the most is that you have to weight the rope in some way so that the ascender slides up with out any hiccups. I tied my pack to the bottom of my rope about 3 feet off the deck and had no issues.

All in all I'm very happy with my new best friend. Although it's a bit lonely at the bottom of the crag I'm happy just to be out and climbing. Maybe Petzl can design their next ascender/self belay device with a mannequin head that attaches to it so I'm not alone....

Ok that was a bit creepy....

Do yourself a favor. If you are like me and have a hard time finding climbing partner, go out and buy yourself a Basic. It's light weight, easy to use and chicks dig it. Really....they do....


  1. Great advice! I've been climbing solo on top-rope for years! When you climb alone, you are less distracted - and more focused! Personally, I find that is when my safest climbing comes out.

    To be sure, solo lead-climbing is a whole different monster... with different gear and a whole bunch of other skills, but soloing on top-rope can be very safe, and a whole lot of fun!

    As a one-time hi-rise window cleaner, I feel plenty safe enough to belay myself, and have even done so when other climbing partners were around (easy climbing... why bother someone else?). But I always remember to bring with me a few items, in case I get into trouble... (rock-fall injury, scorpion bite, heat stroke, etc.)... and have to bail-out fast.

    1. I always bring two descenders (attached to seperate gear loops).
    2. I always bring an extra ascender, or a prusic loop.
    3. Some extra biners and some webbing, or a few extra runners.
    4. Most importantly, all of that extra emergency gear doesn't help you if you're not familiar with how to use it! I recommend to anyone wanting to solo-climb on a top-rope, that you definitely practice switching out to a rappel device, and also practice climbing a rope with two ascenders, as well. Each has it's difficulties, but you need those skills in order to be safe when you are all alone!

    Gotta go, but I'd love to hear more from other solo top-ropers to see what kinds of gear set-ups are being used.


    Climb On! -Sandstone Corey, YO!

  2. Nice post. I use the Basic for TR soloing, too. Just thought I'd say that in the pic of your Basic, the biner is clipped and oriented in way that Petzl expressly says not to clip the Basic for this application in the directions. You want the biner around the rope. Sorry to be so anal-compulsive and you probably knew that already and just wanted a pic of the device. Cheers,

  3. I know this post is old but perhaps you may be able to help anyway. I want to do a bit of top rope soloing just so I can spend some undisturbed time practicing. So whats the dealio when i'm half way up a climb, completely beat and want to go home... how do I get myself down, can the Basic be used to descend, I know it says it can in the instructions but not sure if it actually can from self belay position.

    Thank you's