Best Top 4 Climbing Ascenders
Every rock climber needs a good understanding of all their equipment and one of the most common devices used for many types of rock climbing are climbing ascenders.
This useful piece of equipment has many different purposes, however, it also has many risks. Luckily, these risks can be managed by learning how to use climbing ascenders safely.
Climbing ascenders offer an easier and more efficient way to ascend a rope which makes it very appealing for all climbers to learn how to use. By reading this article, you’ll be able to learn the best ways to use climbing ascenders, and also learn the key steps needed to stay safe.
This Article Covers:
What are climbing ascenders?
What Are Climbing Ascenders Used For?
How Do Climbing Ascenders Work?
What’s the Difference Between Ascender and Descender Climbing Devices?
What are Paired Ascenders?
What’s an Aider?
What is Jugging?
What Are The Steps to Using Climbing Ascenders?
What Dangers Are There to Look Out for When Using Your Climbing Ascender?
What Steps Can You Take to Be Extra Safe When Using Your Climbing Ascender
A climbing ascender is a mechanical device that is specifically used to assist a climber to ascend a rope.
They are used when other means of climbing cannot be accessed and are fairly common devices in both hiking and mountaineering which means that it is important for you to understand how to use them.
Climbing ascenders can come in a number of different shapes and sizes to suit specific purposes. One thing that all ascenders have in common is a toothed clamp that attaches to the rope once the ascender has been weighted. This gives the climber the support to navigate up the rope.
The primary purpose of climbing ascenders is to help a climber ascend a rope. Climbing ascenders can be used for a variety of purposes such as emergency situations, ice climbing, caving and mountaineering.
Additionally, they can also be used as a braking component that can be found in a rope haulage system. Essentially, they are used for ascending up a fixed rope on steep terrain.
Their use is common amongst climbing enthusiasts, however there are certain precautions which need to be followed. All ascenders will have a toothed cam in common, however the size can differ depending on the purpose.
Ascenders offer the fastest and most convenient way to ascend a rope and it’s therefore no surprise that many climbers would want to learn how to use climbing ascenders. You can also learn more information on the origins of the climbing ascender.
When learning about how to use climbing ascenders, it is also important to have a general idea on how the devices actually work.
There are two main types of climbing ascenders:
- Chest Ascenders
- Progression Ascenders
Both work in slightly different ways.
A chest ascender works through being directly attached to a harness. It slowly glides up the rope alongside you. It’s kept in place just below your chest, and this is an important detail to note when learning how to use climbing ascenders.
A progression ascender extends from your harness through the use of a sling or lanyard. This means that you have extra distance to ascend a rope. There is an increased chance of falling due to the possibility of you getting above the ascender.
Best Top 3 Chest Ascenders
When you consider how to use climbing ascenders, it’s probably a good idea to consider using climbing descender devices.
In many ways, these are similar climbing devices that fulfil opposite functions.
There are a few key differences between ascender and descender devices:
- Descenders are used for navigating down a fixed rope in a way that is similar to abseiling and rappelling.
- A descender is usually used when a climber wants to get down a steep rock.
- Descenders can be used for moving through complicated areas.
The descender involves a fixed rope going through an anchor, and then being attached to a friction device. The setup is somewhat similar to an ascender device, and the same precautions must be taken.
The main difference is that ascender devices are used to go up a fixed rope, whereas descender devices are used to navigate down a fixed rope.
Descenders will usually require someone to be at the bottom to belay the harness.
In comparison, an ascender device can be used for solo climbs and it’s important to have an experienced partner with you when you are learning how to use climbing ascenders.
In general, we recommend having a good understanding of both of these devices since they are commonly used for a variety of rock climbing purposes.
Best Top 4 Descenders
Now that you have some more information about how to use climbing ascenders, you must also consider the best way to use them.
The best type of ascenders to use for most types of rock climbing are called paired ascenders.
These ascenders have a separate handle for the left and right hand.
The advantage of paired ascenders is that:
- They are comfortable and easy to use.
- They have a different color for the left and right hand which makes it simple to navigate.
It’s important to purchase paired climbing ascenders which are specifically made for rock climbing. The vast majority of rock climbing pursuits will require cam teeth which aren’t too short.
Ascenders with sharp teeth are best for icy conditions.
When you consider the use climbing ascenders, you must also be able to identify and use relevant accessories, like an aider.
An aider is a device that supports the use of climbing ascenders. You can tell from their name that they aid ascension devices in helping a climber ascend a fixed rope.
The aider works by providing the climber with footsteps which can be followed whilst ascending and can be used directly with an ascender or attached separately to an anchor point.
Aiders can also be directly used with descender devices. Aiders can be an important tool to have around when you are learning how to use climbing ascenders.
Best Top 4 Aiders
You may also have come across the term “jugging” when looking at how to use climbing ascenders.
The word itself is simply another way to say ascending a fixed rope. It was common slang to use this word to denote all types of ascending activities throughout the 70s, and is still occasionally heard.
Some climbers still use the word jugging regularly when they talk about ascending up a rope. Therefore when you are learning how to use climbing ascenders, you shouldn’t be stumped if you hear someone use the term jugging.
It’s important to know all of the steps to using climbing ascenders to truly understand how to use climbing ascenders. Follow these instructions to learn how to use climbing ascenders.
- Stand in Your Aiders
The first thing to do when using a climbing ascender is to have your feet in your aiders or slings.
These will be clipped within the ascender base. Once you are stood in the aiders, your weight will allow the cam with teeth to properly bit into the rope. This biting mechanism will prevent the ascender from going out of control and sliding off the rope. Aiders or slings are always an important aspect of knowing how to use climbing ascenders.
- Slide the Ascender Up the Rope
Once the ascender is weighted, it cannot be moved up or down. When the ascender and aider are unweighted, you can slide the ascender up the rope with the use of one hand. This action should be fairly easy to do and will not require strenuous effort.
However, it does take some practice to master how to properly use an ascender. The most important aspect is the motion in which you ascend. One of the most challenging aspects of learning how to use climbing ascenders is mastering the correct rhythm.
- Ascend in a Rhythmic Motion
The mechanism of a climbing ascender works through pushing weight on one ascender whilst pushing the other one up.
This has to occur in a systematic and rhythmic motion which can take a while to get the hang of. In theory, it can seem like a fairly simple motion, however practice it’s more difficult to perform this rhythmic motion.
Once you master this motion, you will begin to understand how to use climbing ascenders. It is crucial to go up a rope in the most efficient manner, and this naturally takes practice to get to grips with. You can gain practice on slab and vertical faces which require less strength and endurance to ascend.
An overhanging wall usually requires a high amount of strength and endurance to ascend. When you learn how to use climbing ascenders, you will also notice that ascending can be more challenging based on the surface you’re climbing.
Ascending a rope can be a dangerous activity because you are totally reliant on the gear that you’ve setup. A small error in the setup of your ascenders, your harness, and the strength of your climbing rope can lead to a huge safety risk.
Make sure that your aiders are properly clipped on to your ascenders, and make sure that all of the anchors are attached properly. Luckily, there are a number of simple steps that you can take to ensure maximum safety whilst using climbing ascenders which are listed below.
There are some essential steps that you can take to be extra safe when using your climbing ascender.
All it takes is one simple mistake for your entire ascending setup to become dangerous to use. However, you can mitigate this by ensuring that you are fully prepared for all circumstances.
Follow these steps to ensure you stay safe while using your climbing ascender:
- Make sure that you tie into the end of the climbing rope. This must be done every single time.
- Ensure that both ascenders are clipped into your harness through the use of daisy chains and locking carabineers.
- The knots that you tie must be tied below you once you have begun to ascend upwards. They should then be clipped onto a harness belay loop.
- It’s critical to use locking carabineers on all attachment points which can include daisy chains. This may seem excessive, however these carabineers are essential for stability.
- You should always use a backup or screw up to protect against an ascender popping off which is most likely to happen when a rope is strung horizontally. Therefore, you should always remain tied to the end of your rope.
- Make sure that you keep clipping into a series of backup knots as you ascend. Backup knots work well when a rope is not anchored at the bottom end. If you rope is anchored then you should set up a prusik knot right above the bottom ascender.
- Make sure your ascenders have been attached in the proper manner to the fixed rope. There may be instances where ascenders have to be removed and reattached. In these circumstances, there can be a danger of overlooking the attachment. You may have to take one off the ascenders off to place it on top of gear that is located on overhanging terrain.
Safety is always paramount, and you can read more information on using climbing ascender devices safely.
Climbing ascenders can be a very useful device, however they also come with significant risks if used improperly.
It’s important to keep in mind that many sellers can have different names for specific ascenders and descenders. Therefore, you should always make sure that the ascender suits your specific activity. You can also learn more about the best features for climbing ascenders.
Ascenders are incredibly useful climbing devices that require practice and expertise to properly use. It is important to always follow the above precautions every single time that you use a climbing ascender.