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Wild Country Pro Guide Lite: a versatile, light, all-round belay device

One of the most versatile belay devices on the market

Once ice season kicks in, assisted belay devices like the Petzl Grigri that work so well belaying on rock are put in the gear cupboard and replaced with traditional belay devices that can put up with the snow and ice-covered ropes.

The majority of these devices are also designed to use with double ropes and for rappelling, so if you do multi-pitch or trad climbing, they may be on your rack all summer long.

These gizmos are now often known as tubular devices; they arrest the rope from friction created by feeding a loop of rope through an aperture in a tubular or rectangular piece of metal and clipping it to a carabiner attached to a harness or an anchor that adds friction. The concept originated with Austrian gear designer Fritz Sticht, whose Sticht belay Plate, with and without a spring to keep it away from the carabiner, was marketed by Salewa in 1970. An important variant to the design was the autoblocking, or guide plate device.

This was a belay plate that had a hole in it so that it could be attached to an anchor. The bights of the ropes were fed through the apertures and clipped to a carabiner. This allows the belayer to belay two seconding climbers at once, which guides find especially useful. The features of the guide plate are integrated into many belay devices and can come in very handy when using double ropes.

All non-assisted belay devices take more training and practice to master and use safely and efficiently than assisted belay devices. All of them work well once users master the basics. There are three main modes of braking: Assisted braking, where the device automatically adds friction, but does not automatically stop the rope from sliding. Auto block, where the rope is automatically locked when it is suddenly loaded, and conventional tube style braking which uses only the friction of the rope running over the edges of the device.

Some devices do one of these, some do more. Each one has its fans and applications. Generally, auto-blocking works well for belaying seconds form over waist level anchors, some climbers prefer assisted braking and some tube mode, depending on ease of handling, the thinness of the rope and the experience level/weight difference/ number of hangs the leader is likely to take. For rappelling, most climbers will choose the tubular method, unless they are carrying a heavy pack.

The Wild Country Pro Guide Lite tries to cover all of these bases and does so quite well.

The aluminum-bodied Pro guide Lite combines the features of a standard tubular belay device with a guide’s plate. The rope slots are deeply grooved on one side to grab thin ropes. Rappelling with double 7.7 mm lines felt totally secure.

The carabiner hole allows the device to be used in guide’s mode, clipped to a high anchor. Two seconds can be belayed at once this way. A second carabiner hole on the bottom of the device while using it in guide’s mode helps to unlock it when the second falls. Cut slots on the sides both lighten the device and help it shed snow or ice from the rope. The amount of material and thickness of this device will prevent it from wearing down into a sharper edge after extensive use. The flexible wire keeper loop makes it easier for the belay device to stay correctly oriented when the rope twists while belaying.

The slots are sufficiently large to allow belayers to give a softer catch with thicker ropes up to 11mm usually used on long routes or on ice and mixed. Bights of thicker ropes require a bit of a squeeze to fit in the slots, and with the thicker ropes, rappelling is a bit slower and quickly paying out slack takes a little practice.

A great option simply because it is one of the most versatile belay devices on the market.

Weight: 70 g

Rope diameters: 7.7mm- 11 mm