American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Belay — Unfamiliar with Belay Device, Utah, Maple Canyon, Minimum Crag

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  • Publication Year: 2009

FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE BELAY – UNFAMILIAR WITH BELAY DEVICE

Utah, Maple Canyon, Minimum Crag

On July 13, Paul R. (47) fell 50 to 60 feet while climbing “49” at the Minimum Crag. His belayer was using an Edelrid Eddy. He was using a 9.2mm rope, which falls within the manufacturers recommended rope diameters. The belayer claims that the climber was clipping a draw when he fell; the climber claims he was not clipping a draw at the time of the fall. Irrelevant, but part of the situation. From what I have been able to surmise, the belayer felt the rope tug, depressed the device “trigger” and tossed out what he thought would be an armload of rope. This is why it resulted in a 50-foot fall.

Analysis

A review of the device description states, “The design makes it impossible to hold the cam open in this way—it’s simply not big enough to hold [during a fall].” The belayer states that he was not holding the climber side of the rope during the fall. By holding the climber side of the rope exiting the device, it would render the device useless. (Source: From a posting by “maddog” on mountainproject.com)

Another point of view by Mark Horan, who got this review from Rock & Ice:

The Eddy is no Grigri, and it costs twice as much. Need to read more? OK: The Eddy, Edelrid’s new auto-locking device, intends to improve on what could be perceived as Grigri “weaknesses”–those being the danger of holding the lever open or not clipping the two side plates together.

Admittedly, there are definite safety improvements with the Eddy. First, the two side plates lock into place with a click, eliminating the chance of only clipping through one side plate. And unlike the Grigri, which relies on rope friction to engage a cam to hold the rope in place, the Eddy uses rope friction to engage a cam that locks into place. I can see how these features improve safety, however, the Eddy snagged up all tasks, from lowering to feeding line. I experimented with holding the Eddy in different hand positions, but the device inevitably and invariably locked up, leaving me scrambling to figure out how to unlock the cam (press it down and it will release) to continue feeding slack.

The Eddy, a rather heavy bugger at 12.4 ounces (Grigri is 7.9 ounces), will also lock if the user pulls the lever all the way back. This eliminates the risk of the belayer dropping you because he freaked and yarded on the lever. I found this feature especially annoying and even superfluous to safety. First, it makes the lever’s range of arc that unlocks the cam extremely small so that you have to pull it back just right in order to lower your partner.

To sum up, the Eddy is okay. It will catch and lower any climber—even on, thank god, ropes down to 9 millimeters! However, compared to the no nonsense Grigri, I found the Eddy difficult to use.

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