The new Black Diamond 2011 ATC Guide is a new, improved version of the ATC Guide. It’s still the same guide that you know
and love, just lighter and a larger auto-block release hole to accept a smaller carabiner. Both are excellent improvements on a belay/rappel device that was already a standard of the industry.
The new ATC Guide has the same basic construction and features as its predecessor, version 1.0. Black Diamond shaved .5 ounces off of the device by creating windows machined through the body. For those climbers who are all about climbing ultra-light and count ounces like an accountant counts pennies, the dropping of .5 ounces will make this great belay device even that more appealing. The enlargement of the autoblock release hole to accept a smaller carabiner allows climbers to utilize the new ultra-light, yet quite smaller, locking biners. This new ATC is all about light, targeting the alpinist who makes that a priority.
The is a solid, versatile belay/rappel device for whatever your objective is – whether it be alpine, sport, trad, mixed or ice climbing. This device’s design and features are easy to use, yet also quite versatile. The device can handle ropes from 7.7mm up to 11mm in diameter.
Though it is important to note that, as with other tubular styled belay/rappel devices, the ultra-skinny ropes can be too thin to create enough friction for a slow rappel or belay if the lead takes a big fall. The rope will move quickly through the device, especially for heavier climbers or climbers wearing a heavy pack. This just requires some vigilance when using thin ropes or employing the auto-lock system.
The ATC Guide can be used two ways 1) standard belaying/rappelling off of the harness or 2) in “Guide” mode. Guide mode has the device attached directly to the anchor when belaying, instead of attached to the belay loop on the climber’s harness. In Guide mode, the second can be belayed up or lowered down efficiently. This mode is especially important if the lead is lowering a climber that weights quite a bit more than they do.
When belaying a second in Guide mode, the large metal eye ring is clipped with a locking biner to the belay anchor. A loop of rope is inserted through the ATC Guide opening and a locking carabiner is clipped through the loop of rope and the ATC’s cable. This takes the weight off of the belayer and the device locks (auto-locking mode) if the second, who is now climbing, takes a fall.
In this Guide mode, a climber can also be lowered easily and smoothly. A sling or cord or the cable of a small stopper is threaded through the small release hole (small ring) and girth hitched to the hole. The ATC Guide is raised enough to release tension on the rope, the sling (or other material) is then run through a carabiner which is attached to the anchor. When the sling is pulled down the rope then can be slid through the device, lowering the climber.
Video belongs to Black Diamond.
These new improvements that Black Diamond made to the ATC Guide make this already stellar belay/rappel device an even greater alpine tool. The changes are seemingly small, but show a great attention to detail that Black Diamond is known for. And these improvements are not frivolous or unimportant, they do matter to alpinists, especially those who go as light as possible. Therefore, we at Alpine Athena feel this device is worth the full price tag.
Disclaimer: The ATC Guide was given to the reviewer by Black Diamond for this review.
Genevieve Hathaway is the Editor of Alpine Athena. See her bio in the “Editor” section.