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mammut alpine smart review
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By bearbreeder
Sep 18, 2011

this is for the 9.2-10.5mm version ...

the alpine smart is mammuts new assisted locking device, based on the smart, it is different from that and the gri gri/cinch in that there are 2 channels, so you can do 2 strand rappels with it

ive had the alpine smart since the start of aug, having used it ~5 days a week since then on everything from multipitch, trad/sport cragging, multi rappels, etc ... i bought it in canmore for ~40$ canadian ... i am neither sponsored by dead elephant, or a fanboy of their gear, the device was not provided by those damn elephants either

notes

- assisted locking ... the locking is basically automatic, though you should keep yr brake hand on ... the catch is no different from a gri gri/cinch that ive noticed ... supposedly theres a softer catch due to some allowed slip, but i have not noticed this ... i have fallen and caught falls on trad and sport on it

- feeding out rope ... this is good and bad ... if you have a 9.8 or less mm rope, the smart works wonderfully, i find it easier to feed than my 1st gen gri gri ... however on stiffer or thicker ropes, especially beyond 10mm, feeding can be a bit of a pain ... the way you feed it is by pulling the handle away from yr body and pulling the rope through ...i find more intuitive than a gri gri as yr hand is basically on the brake the entire time ... you rope MUST be flaked out or layed out smoothly, with my ATC guide i could get away ganking the rope through even if its a bit tangled ... cant do that with this device

- taking in rope ... same issues as feeding with rope diameter ...

- autoblock ... similar to guide or reverso .. however read the instructions as the setup is not exactly the same ... same isues with rope diameter as with feeding out the rope ... lowering off autoblock is still a bit of a pain, but the handle does give more leverage ... backup with a munter

- weight ... lighter than a gri gri ... it is bulkier than an ATC

- biner ... use a wide HMS biner ... small lockers will cause feeding issues ... also take care that the biner does not turn narrow side up on you ... that can be a pain to correct with the alpine smart ...

- rapelling ... 2 words ... it sucks ... it is not as intuitive to rappel as with an ATC, definately jerkier ... what you basically need to do if you have shorter arms like me is bring yr elbow to your body and push the handle up/out ... and find the sweet spot ... forget about rapelling on stiffer 10mm+ ropes ... i had to bounce up and down to going ... on the positive side, i dont use a prussik with it, even though dead elephant recommends one ... i just hold the strands lightly with my hand if i need to go "hands free" ... rappels better with thinner ropes ... also note that you CANT rappel on say a 9.5mm and a 8mm tag line without going single line rap

- lowering ... not bad ... takes a try or two to get used to but no worse than my gri gri IMO

- price ... depends how you look at it ... for a gri gri substitute its cheap at half the price ... for an ATC replacement its expensive at 1.5-2x more

  • ** the bottom line .***

why do i still keep on using it with all the issues???

because its ASSISTED LOCKING ... there have been incidents where "experienced" climbers have dropped people ... i dont want to become a dropper or droppee ...

in areas with rockfall issues such as the rockies, havint the belayer always using the smart, and the leader top belaying with a guide in autoblock effectively takes care of the belayer knocked out by rock possibility

for sport climbing with thinner ropes, its quite wonderful, and as good as a gri gri IMO for those hang doggers and repeated whippers

for trad it saves using a prussik when cleaning on rappels

with newer belayers (or older ones) it provides a bit more of a margin of safety as long as they know how to use the device properly ... im sure some people will bleat about belayer should be able to belay you no matter what ... i agree, but then ill hook ya up with a 100 lb girl on an 18 pitch climb on a thinner rope with an ATC ... and see how brave you feel that shell catch yr 200 lb body especially at the end of the day when everyone is cold tired and hungry ... you can of course choose not to climb with said hawt 100 lb girl, but a 200 lb one ;)

at the end of the day i consider it a good gri gri substitue for cragging, and a mediocre ATC guide/reverso one for multipitch unless you are in a rockfall area or really want the assisted lock (which i do)

if you do use it ... use it with a big binner and a supple < 10mm rope ... preferably < 9,8mm

thanks


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By Pete Spri
Sep 18, 2011

... I thought the review... was decent...


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By Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Sep 19, 2011

I've used one as well. It's a nice device, for sure. Belaying the leader and second are both good, just different than a Gri-Gri or tube. Rappelling is extremely different, although I got it to work pretty well eventually. Extending it was key.


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By -sp
From East-Coast
Sep 19, 2011
Buenos Dias!

bearbreeder wrote:
...the alpine smart is mammuts new assisted locking device...


Fair review, thanks for taking the time.

I've been using one since April and while I pretty much agree with everything you've said I would add that may experience with rappelling has been better than what you descibe. But...I have also been using 8.6mm doubles and with the thinner ropes it works great. Getting started requires you feed the rope to the device a little more than with my Reverso, but once you get going and especially near the end of the rappell it feels much more in control and is very easy to slow or lock off and stop.

A couple of other points worth mentioning: when belaying a leader try to have the ropes stacked so they feed into the device from the same side your brake-hand is on. If they come from an odd angle or are twisted (doubles/twins) it takes more effort to feed the ropes through the device.

I haven't used a back-up while rappelling, and the device will lock up if you take your hand off. But you will soon notice that it will lock up MUCH more easily at the start of the rappell than near the end (when there is less weight from the free end of the ropes).

Your point about selecting the proper carabiner is worth mentioning again - it makes a difference. I use a Petzl William and it works well.

And finally, this device doesn't have a wire loop that can be kept inside the biner while you insert the rope. The entire device has to be off the biner, and while this is certainly a minor point, it's worth mentioning that you just need to be careful you don't drop it when while setting it up.


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By bearbreeder
Sep 19, 2011

Sp

The solution for the lack of wire is to carry it on the hole used for autoblock

Put the rope through groves then put the biner through the proper holes

Not as good as a wire, but the friction tends to keep the device to the rope should you let go

Thanks


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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Sep 20, 2011
OTL

I've been using the original single rope smart for about a year now and do appreciate it when I outweigh my belayer significantly. That's only been for cragging though, and I don't think I'd replace my ATC guide with a smart alpine without trying one first.
Also wanted to add the images in case people haven't seen one yet:





The silver one is for 7.5 - 9.5 mm, the darker grey is for 8.9 - 10.5 mm.


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By -sp
From East-Coast
Sep 21, 2011
Buenos Dias!

bearbreeder wrote:
Sp The solution for the lack of wire is to carry it on the hole used for autoblock Put the rope through groves then put the biner through the proper holes Not as good as a wire, but the friction tends to keep the device to the rope should you let go Thanks

Ah, yes. Will give that a try. Thanks.


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By Peter Pitocchi
Sep 21, 2011
Pete belays 2nd pitch Little corner

I have an 8.9 and a 9.2. Should I get the big one or the little one?


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By Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Sep 21, 2011

The big one. I've used it on skinny ropes (8.5) and it's great. I'd only get the small one if you use twins or thin doubles exclusively.


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By Woodchuck ATC
Sep 21, 2011
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Matt N wrote:
I've been using the original single rope smart for about a year now and do appreciate it when I outweigh my belayer significantly. That's only been for cragging though, and I don't think I'd replace my ATC guide with a smart alpine without trying one first. Also wanted to add the images in case people haven't seen one yet: The silver one is for 7.5 - 9.5 mm, the darker grey is for 8.9 - 10.5 mm.



I've also had the single rope version since they came out. Beware of any accidental bump to the 'handle because it will un-block and drop you very fast. It's handy, but not foolproof.


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By bearbreeder
Sep 21, 2011

Woodchuck ATC wrote:
I've also had the single rope version since they came out. Beware of any accidental bump to the 'handle because it will un-block and drop you very fast. It's handy, but not foolproof.



i never found that a problem as the brake hand should always be half on the rope with the thumb under the handle ... in a fall i always tell people just to grab the rope

its actually mpre intuitive IMO than the gri gri belaying technique

for the person asking about 8.9 and 9.2 mm ... get the larger size ... i mistakenly posted it as going down to 9.2, but its 8.9 in reality

in fact, i believe that for 9.5mm or less ropes is where the smart truly shines .... a lot of the feeding issues are minimized, and the assisted catch helps on ropes that small especially if you are a small belayer ... also when its cold, icy , wet, and you have thick gloves on ... makes the catch a "surer" thing IMO

i have only tested it down to 9.4/9.5 though ... so maybe someone will chime in with the more experience here


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By -sp
From East-Coast
Sep 21, 2011
Buenos Dias!

Auto-X Fil wrote:
The big one. I've used it on skinny ropes (8.5) and it's great. I'd only get the small one if you use twins or thin doubles exclusively.


I'll second the suggestion for the bigger one. I mistakenly purchased the large size when it first came out - the smaller model hadn't been released and I didn't notice it until I got it home. But I tried it with my 8.6 doubles and it worked perfectly.

And i agree with Bearbreeder, smaller ropes seem to negate the feeding/rapping issues.


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By bearbreeder
Oct 20, 2011

just wanted to update ... i switched from a BD rocklock to a DMM boa with a huge radius ... and it makes rapping a lot smoother ...


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By bearbreeder
May 18, 2012

an update on the alpine smart ...

- this thing rocks for autoblock ... it pulls through rope WAY easier than a guide or reverso in that mode ....

- i picked up the one for double ropes .... i find it works fine on 8mm mammut phoenix

i use this thing almost exclusively on multi now where i use thinner ropes anyways and where rock fall is more of a concern

as to rapping ...i did the royal arches raps with it ... somewhere around 10 double length raps .... it worked just fine


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By Chris Graham
From Bartlett, NH
Jun 7, 2012
portrait <br />

Love mine, don't go anywhere without it.


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By bearbreeder
Nov 25, 2012

just as an update ... after using it for 2 seasons ...

- it is not a true "autolock" ... it is very rare, but depending on the biner you use and the orientation of the device, the assist lock may not function ... in this case its basically an ATC for a short period ... gri gris are still assisted locking, but people do use em for soloing against petzls recommendation, they lock up better

- if you are sport climbing and dont need it for raps, im thinking a gri gri is a better choice ... the weight advantage of the alpine smart is offset by the need for a big biner ... for a gri gri you can use a small UL biner ...

- in terms of costs the alpine smart will be more expensive in the long run with extensive use ... the problem is that you need a big biner like a DMM boa that costs 15+$ ... and with daily use the biner wears out in about a year ... gri gris easily last 10+ years and dont wear out the biner ... so if yr climbing daily and dont need the rap, a gri gri is cheaper after a few years

- although its against zombie elephants recommendation to rap on a single and a half rope ... ive done so without any issues ... the trick is to treat it as an ATC, that is dont totally rely on the assited locking, which you souldnt anyways ...

- 2 years of daily use has done minimal wear to the device ... no worries there

- dont use it with stiff ropes ... which means no mammut ropes > 9.5mm .... and no old thick fuzzy ropes ... the diameter isnt the issue, but rather the handling ... i can use it on Beals and some Tendons up to 10.2mm with no issues ... but any thicker mammuts or maxims dont work very well ... same with gri gris

- if you are always putting seconds in guide mode, especially 2 seconds, i highly recommend this device ... its the easiest pulling device ive used on autoblock and saves yr arm muscles on long climbs ... it pulls through easier than reversos, ATC guides and or even a gigi

- the belay is very intuitive even for newer climbers, easier than a gri gri IMO ... its a good choice for a first time assisted locking device, especially the basic smart, which is cheaper

at the end of the day, i use mine for everything and keep planning on using it ... but of you dont plan to rap on it, the gri gri is a more economical choice in the longer run ...


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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Nov 26, 2012
OTL

$10 (resale - can occasionaly be snagged for $8) WC Synergy www.wildcountry.co.uk/products/screwgate-karabiners/synergy->>>

works great for me on the smart alpine. 12 millimeter round bar construction, plus its quite wide basket helps keep the smart working smoothly.


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By BGardner
From Colorado
Nov 26, 2012

I've been using an Alpine Smart since March, and probably have 100 days on it. I've done all manner of climbing with it, including a lot of multi-pitch guiding and taking my AMGA Rock Guide Exam.

I was given this devise by a Rep, so take my thoughts with a grain of thought.

In summary, at first I thought it was a little weird, but stuck with the learning curve, now I use it almost exclusively.

This thing does need a very big carabiner. At first I used a BD Rocklock, but have now switched to Petzl Williams and like it better. This thing does concentrate the wear in one spot and thus wears out carabiners faster then anything I've ever seen. I try to flip the carabiner around while belaying in guide mode to spread the wear out.

This thing does lock very well when catching lead falls. When catching big guys(200+ pounds) on falls close to the ground I've noticed that about 1 to 1.5 feet of rope slips through. I believe this does soften the catch. When catching lighter people very little if any rope slides through. I personally recommend belay gloves when lead belaying, especially with the heavier leaders.

When belaying in guide mode (off the anchor) this thing is the smoothest of the newer tube/plaquet hybrid style devises (Reverso, ATC Guide, ...) I've used. It is not as smooth as a gigi, or a gri-gri (1 or 2) but close and far more useful for everything else.

To me rappelling is the best part of this thing. I'm a big advocate for backing up rappels, and I love that this thing offers me a reliable lock off without needing to mess around with prusics and extensions. I can just slap the ropes into the device, lock the carabiner, do my double-check and go. So simple, just like the old days. I can even speed rappel if so inclined. Try that with a prussic back-up.

When doing a full double-rope rappel the extra weight of the ropes hanging done does make it a bit more work for the first 30 feet but then it smooths out a lot. I do a lot of rappelling in my line of work and this device has definitely made my life easier. When rapping off 10 pitch+ climbs, the time savings at every rappel really start to add up, plus I never have to make a decision about whether to back-up or not. It is just always there. I'm surprised to see someone recommending the use of an extension for this devise as I have fond just the opposite. Since you need to lift the end of the device up and out to start rappelling, then keep it up as you go, extending this thing puts my arms in a really awkward position. It does give you a great shoulder pump though. With out an extension I find it is really easy to keep the device unlocked throught he rappel.

If I know I'm going to be just toproping all day, I do still bring the gri-gri. It is just a bit smother, more durable, and is a bit better at the rescue stuff. Still the Smart is on my harness the whole time.

In summery:
It's not perfect, it is a little funky and requires a bit of a learning curve for everyone (new or experienced). It does require a large carabiner offsetting some of the weight savings. It also wears out the carabiners faster adding to the expense.
If you're just climbing single pitch, and almost never rappel, I'd go with a gri-gri 2, and an ATC for the rare rappel.
For me, I've found this device to be the best compromise out there, and an improvement on what I was using before. If I lost mine today I would by another one tomorrow.


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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Feb 23, 2013
My navigator keeps me from getting lost

Came across this via another thread and thought I'd add some info for others considering this device.

- Many of the issues mentioned in the OP's review are in relation to a rope >9.8mm. They may be legit. I don't know. I haven't used a rope larger than 9.8 in a long time. I think that's the case for a lot of people. If you're using a rope smaller than 9.8, I don't think you'll experience many issues mentioned.

- bearbreeder touched on this but I think it's worth highlighting. Unlike the GriGri or Cinch, the Smart relies on a belay technique very similar to an ATC. Rope can easily be fed out w/o letting go of the brake hand. That, IMO, is it's biggest selling point. You can hand it to that 100 lb belayer on your 18 pitch climb without worrying as much about teaching bad habits.


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By Steven Groetken
From Durango, CO
Feb 23, 2013
On top of Hitchcock Pinnacle.

I have a smart alpine and a sterling marathon mega rope ( free-be from my old Army unit). It's an 11.2 mm beast of a rope. These two work together pretty good once you figure it out. It was a little jerky on belay and rappel at first and feeding rope on lead was pretty tough, but after a while I got the hang of it and now I have nice smooth technique. Same goes with rappel, sucked at first, not bad now. I've used my friends rope which is a 9.2 and my belay went back to being stop and go, but his belay was smooth. It's yet another skill set to master, but getting better at certain techniques is part of the fun in climbing.


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By William Nelson
From Cave Creek, AZ
Mar 3, 2013

At first rappel takes some getting used to, but trade off is no need for backup as it auto locks which. On double rope raps you'll get a shoulder pump. If you want you flip device and it raps like an atc (no back up or auto lock).

Auto block is by far the best of any device I've used (ATC guide, Reverso and even Grigri) Incredibly easy to pull even belaying two off anchor.

Lead belaying is both easier and safer (auto assist/lock) than atc and grigri. Top rope is great, but takes a little getting used to for lowering (about same as grigri).

I'm going to buy another for my girlfriend to lead belay me. Recommend for versatility and cost.


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