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Rock Climbing in J-Tree

A rock climber leading a trad crack line in Joshua Tree National
Park, California

Image © Greg Epperson :

DMM Belay Master - Added Safety?

DMM Belay Master - A Safety Belay Carabiner?Two years ago I purchased the DMM Belay Master Carabiners for a climbing program I manage (Montana Yellowstone Expeditions). We're teaching teenagers to rock climb and most of them have no prior exposure to climbing. The unique black plastic clip on this carabiner does two things: 1) it prevents crossloading of the carabiner, and 2) it won't close unless the screwgate of the carabiner is locked. Crossloading, while unlikely to result in failure under common circumstances, does place it in its weakest orientation where the potential for failure exists. It is also nice to be able to confirm that a carabiner is locked from a ways away.

We got the older model, but the updated version, the Belay Master 2009, is even better. The shaped hot forged spine makes the black clip easier to use by holding it in place so it can't slip up and down the spine like on the original model. Are they perfect? Probably not. The keeper wire on some belay devices like the various Black Diamond ATC models can pop the black clip open during use (the new model reportedly snaps shut a little more tightly so this issue is still present, but less common). This isn't real cause for alarm, but it can fluster some new belayers and defeats the whole purpose of the setup.

Why I'm not using mine much personally? I don't have much of a problem with cross loading my belay carabiner while belaying, and I'm similarly confident that I keep my carabiner locked. It's a bit of a pain in that when its not in use (such as hanging on your gear loop) you have to screw the gate shut and close the black plastic clip to prevent the clip from being knocked off. I do use my Belay Master Carabiner when I'm using a Petzl Mini Traxion for top rope self belay. For this and other unique applications where it is difficult to manage the the cross loading hazard, the Belay Master does the trick. I would recommend the Belay Master 2009 for any institutional climbing program as it effectively helps to manage a couple of hazards. Other than some minor inconveniece when storing it on a gear loop, why not use it? Even the price, at $20, isn't a real barrier to its implementation.

For more information visit the product page on the DMM Website. Kudos to them for continuing to bring innovative products to the climbing market.

3/16/11 There are two new carabiners with some or all of the features of the Belay Master: the Mammut Element Smart HMS, and the Black Diamond Gridlock. Both look interesting and we'll be reviewing them in the future. If you try either model out, let us know your thoughts! - AK

Posted by

Alex Kosseff

on 8/25/10
Field SafetyTools & ToysResource


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