As of November 15th 2018, the Black Diamond ATC Pilot is the only belay device permitted for Lead Belaying at Hardrock Climbing venues.
Why the change?
We're always striving to improve how we do things. New developments in belay device technology have led us to review our policies. We've spent considerable time researching and testing devices, prior to making the change.
Lead belay devices largely fall into 3 categories: 'Tube' style (Unassisted), Assisted Braking (Passive) and Assisted Braking (Active).
The German Alpine Club conducted research into belayer errors and found some important insights, namely;
- The type of device utilised correlated to both how many errors were made, and the severity of those errors
- By a significant margin, users of Passive Assisted Braking devices had both the lowest frequency and lowest severity of errors
- You can read the German Alpine Club research article here.
Given this, we looked further into Passive Assisted Braking devices and found that in our setting, the Black Diamond ATC Pilot device performed optimally in all areas during our tests.
- Utilises conventional technique meaning that the adjustment for the many belayers familiar with Tube Style devices is minimal
- Engenders correct usage
- The device operates well if you use it as intended. I.e. it is easy to use correctly. In contrast, some other devices are more difficult to operate in practice, which encourages incorrect usage