Petzl again led the pack in bringing us this super versatile, self-braking belay device. Most other manufacturers have scrambled to follow suit, but the Reverso still gets my vote for simplicity and smooth feed in all categories. The company also built the Reversino for smaller than 8mm diameter ropes. I have not yet tried the new and improved Reverso with improved grip, but I’ve seen others with it and hope to get my hands on one soon. Petzl’s website and its catalog have cutting-edge visuals of how to use the device, how to manage releasing a load under tension (safely), and how to raise the second, using the Reverso as a rachet. Not to mention a super cool movie of the Reverso in action.
A downside of the Reverso is how fast the metal wears and grooves. On an AMGA Rock Exam last spring, another candidate, Marc Beverly, gave an examiner a new Reverso after seeing the state of his with its deep groves. We were all quite shocked at the extent of the wear and that it was still in use. Marc (now certified) took the Reverso home and did three pull tests on it, expecting to find disastrous results. He was surprised to find that it took more than 2,424.5 lbF (10.8 kN) with a 10.5mm rope to cause failure. With an 8.8mm rope he tugged up to 1,941 lbF (8.6 kN) before he even started to get sheath damage. The other interesting thing he found was the sharp edges of the aluminum rolled and rounded over with the tests. Thank you Marc for these results. I think I’ll still retire mine before it gets to that point. Unless you climb mostly on sandstone, and a lot, it probably won’t be a factor.
A direct belay off the anchor for the second is always a good idea, unless (1) your anchor sucks, (2) the terrain is crusier (and it’s faster to belay off your harness or the ol’ hip belay), or (3) you are not schooled in this technique, because the results of a fall could be disastrous. It definitely takes some practice to use the device safely, especially in situations where your second is free hanging and needs slack. Petzl’s website and catalog do a good job of explaining this, but better yet, hire a guide or find someone that is experienced with its use. And practice. As with any technical tool, use it as the manufacturer advises.
The Reverso makes belaying two seconds at once safe and fast. Given the self-braking mechanism, it makes rope management at stances much easier and cleaner with practice. I used to carry a GriGri and a Stitch-plate for guiding and now just use the Reverso for everything. For swapping leads with a partner, having a Reverso each speeds up transitions. The Reverso can be used as part of a quick rope acension system, as a rachet for hauling systems and basic belaying and rappelling device like the ol’ Stitch-plates. One stop shopping.