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Petzl Reverso belay device
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Contact: Petzl
Reverso belay/rappel device
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Reverso belay/rappel device

Most climbers regard their belay device as an extension of themselves. The use of our trusty tubers and ATCs is so familiar, that handling them becomes second nature. I recently tested the new Petzl Reverso. I started out convinced that it would not impress me enough to trade in my good old ATC, but it looks like I was wrong.

The Petzl Reverso is a specialized tool capable of four functions: it can be used to belay a leader with a one or two-rope system, belay one or two seconds with hands-off assuredness, rappel, and in a pinch, ascend the rope. All this at the light weight of 81gm. I found only two drawbacks in using the Reverso. First, the bi-circular fin design can be confusing to orient in the various modes of operation, so careful attention to instructions and practice are required before relying on it. Once you work with it though, you'll soon find the Reverso to be versatile and convenient. The second drawback is belaying off the anchor or ascending the rope require a second locking carabiner to create the brake. This is hardly too much to ask for all its versatility. Used for belaying a leader or for rappelling, the Reverso is oriented similarly to any double slot belay device (does not require a second carabiner), and runs smoothly without hang-ups or sticking. Catching a leader fall feels secure, and lowering is smooth. One of the most convenient features of the device is the ease with which belay transitions can be made on multi-pitch routes. After belaying a second directly off the anchor in auto-locking mode, there’s no need for the belayer to reorient the rope in the Reverso as the second takes off to lead the next pitch Swinging leads is fast and easy.

Beyond convenience, the Reverso offers safety in its self-locking belay orientation. While taking up slack, single or double ropes run smoothly, and they lock the instant weight is placed on them. Although the Reverso makes an excellent improvised ascender, Petzl does not recommend the Reverso as a self-belay device for rope soloing. (Still we tried it, with proper backup of course, and it worked well.- Editor) Unlike the GiGi, the fin design of the Reverso guards against the carabiner flipping around and changing the orientation to lower.

Additional info on the Reverso, and a cool Flash demonstration of the tool, can be found on Petzl's web site. More tips on making transitions to lowering can be found on the United States Mountain Guides Association ( site.

Conclusion:  Greater details on the use of the Petzl Reverso are beyond the scope of this review, but suffice it to say that $21.00 and some practice will get you (and me for sure) a versatile, convenient and safe climbing tool. (Many thanks to Dave Karl of Sky Ambitions, local Petzl sales representitive, for the loaner. - Editor)

Details: for 8-9 mm double dynamic rope or 10-11mm single dynamic rope, weight: 81 g

Danielle Gelinas
August 2001

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