CGR test out the top of the range ‘do it all’ belay device from Wild Country
The Pro Guide belay plate is a superb choice as the ‘do it all’ belay device for belaying, abseiling and guiding on ropes from 7.7-11mm
Most hardwear companies now have a ‘guide plate’ belay device in their collection and they are a very versatile item to have on your rack. As well as belaying and rapping they can be used, for only a little extra cost, to bring your second up and lock them off (maybe whilst they remove that wire you welded in 😉 and as an ascender (in an emergency situation). They also allow you to escape the system very easily (what do mean you can’t escape the system!) without the rigmarole of prussicks.
The Wild Country Pro Guide fits the bill nicely. It’s well made in aluminium, has a nice chucky feel to it and is light weight. I tried it with a variety of belay situations from double 8.5mm ropes, double 8mm ropes, a single 10mm rope and a single 9.1mm rope. It coped with them all. The stated range is 7.7mm to 11mm ropes. I found 11mm ropes a little too thick to pay out quickly and Kev has a pair of 7.8mm ropes that worked fine, I did find there was a little slippage with the 7.8mm when it was placed under load and used in normal belay mode, but this was to be expected with such thin ropes and it didn’t move at all in guide mode.
The ridged teeth held the rope light under load and was useful when I needed to lock the Pro Guide off, for instance when used for sport climbing or working a route. They also worked well for abseiling where the Wild Country Pro Guide’s thick aluminium body dissipated the heat effectively. It did, however, get very hot with multiple rapps. Once the device had cooled enough – usually by the time my climbing partner had got to the ab – it was cool enough to use again. Once again the smooth teeth aided friction and helped lock the device off when I needed stop (to look at or clean a hold).
In guide (sometimes called autoblock) mode the hole for the extra biner (it is important to use a screwgate in this) is at right angles to the plate, this allows the plate to sit neatly against the rock. The release slot was big enough for a carabiner nose to fit in. Interestingly I demonstrated releasing a guide plate under load to a client recently and they were quite shocked at how uncontrollable it could be. You need to be really careful how you release these types of plate and training or practise is essential. The instructions are quite well laid out and you do need to read and practise them before rigging in guide mode.
The Wild Country Pro Guide gets five stars for value as it comes with an HMS carabiner. This is for the same price as just a plate on its own with some manufacturers, so great value really. It works very well and the claim that it is ‘do it all’ belay device is true. I’ve used it all season both recreationally and professionally and I often find myself recommending it to everyone, so praise indeed!
SRP £24 or £30 (includes Synergy Lite Screwgate)