It is self-locking plate belay device, designed for protection of the seconding climbers in rather easier terrains. The belay is only static, dynamic mode of belay is not possible, so it cannot be used for belaying the leader. It is made from a single piece of metal stamping and for it to work you need to have another carabiner, preferably oval locking carabiner. Company named Kong manufactures it under the name of Gi-gi, which also took as the most common name for this type of belay device. Similar device is also made by Cassin. Plate belay device can be used both for protection with single rope or two strand ropes (half rope, twin rope). It can belay both one seconding climber and two seconding climbers, when either of the seconds is tied to one strand of the rope. Therefore two climbers can climb at the same time, which significantly save time.
Belaying is performed by pulling the bight of the rope through the hole in the device and the carabiner is clipped into the created eye of the rope. It is necessary to lead the strand of the rope leading down to the second through the hole in the device us upper. Under the load must this upper rope strand pinch unto the bottom strand. Hangdogging second will cause the blocking of the rope in the device by its own weight. Therefore the belayer on the belay station does not have to permanently hold the dead part of the rope; all he/she must do is to retrieve the rope as the second climbs up.
But the self-blocking has its dark side. If the second will not be able to pass a difficult place and completely resigns on the climb, the belayer on the belay station cannot readily lower him/her down. The only way how to release blocking of loaded rope in the device is to lift carabiner clipped in rope’s bight. That can be done either by hand (very hard, almost impossible) or by webbing sling. Here is how to do it: from carabiner clipped through a rope’s bight we pull a webbing sling through another carabiner clipped in the belay station (i.e. above plate belay device). Belayer will clip the other end of the webbing sling to his/her seat harness and by sitting puts a load on it. That will lift the carabiner clipped on rope’s bight and release the blocking of the rope. It is a bit complicated, therefore is better to belay the second by this autoblocking method only in easy terrains, where in relation with his/her performance is not expected that he/she will have a problem with climbing.
Alternatively is possible to pull incapacitated climber up, either by carabiner pulley or by so called Strauss rescue system.
If the rope to the second is not loaded, and the belayer wants to give him/her a little slack, it can be achieved again by lifting of the carabiner clipped to the rope’s bight. Afterward the rope can be easily pulled down.
Belaying with two strand rope is basically the same; of course each strand is inserted into its own opening in the device. Moreover, there is the option to use the longitudinal protrusion on one side of the device (if it is already fitted by the manufacturer). In this case it is necessary to insert strands of the two-strand rope into the openings so that the bights of the rope are sticking out on the side where the longitudinal protrusion is. By clipping of the rope’s bights to the carabiner will be this carabiner pinched after a loading unto this longitudinal protrusion and “swing” over it from side to side. Thanks to this after loading of one strand the other strand stays free and will continue to be able to move. That means that while we belay to climbers at once and one of them hangdog, the other one can continue in the ascent and his/her rope can be retrieved. Seconding climbers are independent of each other, even though they are belayed by the same belay device.
Rappelling with plate belay device is also possible. The pleasant aspect of rappelling is the fact that the rope does not twist (as is common with figure 8) and the rope can be easily taken down afterwards. Untwisting is also friendly to the rope, which is less stressed. The only thing that can be rebuked is that the rappelling on a rope with common diameter of 10.5 mm is a bit faster, especially when we’re in the lower part where the rope weight is smaller and therefore the mutual friction of a rope and device is smaller. Therefore it is necessary to hold the rope under the belay device firmer and slow down the speed of rappel.
So in conclusion: Belay plate device (Gi-gi) will find its use mainly in the mountains while climbing with a half rope (two-strand) by three-member team, where it significantly saves time. It should be used only in an easy terrain, where, due to the performance of the team members, is not expected that anyone will have trouble with climbing. Especially during the winter belayer appreciate the self-blocking function, since he/she doesn’t have to hold the rope all the time with numb fingers.
The shape of belay plate device is very similar to a classic Sticht plate, so it is tempting to use it for the protection of the leader. We must warn against it! The openings for the rope are too large in the longitudinal direction, the bight of the rope is too small, and thus the braking friction is very small. The rope would slip too fast and too easily.
In connection with the plate belay device must be noted, that Reverso belay device or ATC Guide belay device can do the same, but they also have other functions, including the ability to dynamic belay of the leader.
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