Review of "Black Diamond ATC XP"

published 11/05/2006 | hukerjohn
Member since : 29/01/2003
Reviews : 45
Members who trust : 51
About me :
Pro Fantastic design - great for beginners
Cons Can be difficult when using thick or stiff ropes
very helpful
Value for money

"Something to catch you whenever you fall..."

Belay plate hanging

Belay plate hanging

There isn't much you can say about things like belay devices, but I do know that when you are just getting into climbing and there is an entire wall covered in strange climbing related objects it would be nice to have someone point you in the right direction.

What is a belay and what is it for? Basically when you climb (99% of the time) you climb with a partner. Your partner is there to catch you when you fall and to do so so he or she needs some sort of device that gives full control of the speed of the rope. The rope is folded over and threaded through the hole in the belay plate, then the loop that has been threaded through is attached to your harness via a screw gate carabiner. The loose end of the rope should be hanging down towards the floor and the end attached to the climber points up.

To stop the rope from moving the loose end is pulled down and the friction produced between the rope and plate causes the rope to stop moving. By increasing the angle of the loose end upwards the speed of the rope through the plate increases as the friction induced decreases. This allows the climber to descend.

Anyway, Back to the ATC XP. This, for me, is the best belay plate on the market for beginners climbing. It has been designed with teeth so that if the belayer is much lighter than the climber there shouldn't be any problems holding the rope down and creating enough friction. My sister weighs about 8.5 stone whereas I'm 13.5 and she doesn't have any problems holding my weight. The teeth also allow for much thinner ropes for when you are climbing with a pair of ropes and weight is an issue. This belay plate works perfectly well with thin, 7.7mm, and thick, 11mm, ropes. The teeth also increase the level of control, making it very simple to adjust the speed of a climbiers descent. The plate is designed with two eyelets - standard on most belay devices - which allow for belaying two ropes simultaneously. Incidentally the two rope thicknesses mentioned are specific to the design (recommended max and min).

If you happen to be climbing with someone particularily dozy - something I really do not recommend - then the teeth are a little confidence booster as even if the belayer drops the rope the teeth help bunch up the rope which will slow, not stop, your fall.

The teeth have their disadvantages also... If you are climbing with thicker or stiffer rope it can be very difficult to pull the rope through. This is particularily unhelpful when the climber is lead climbing and the belayer needs to produce lengths of rope relatively quickly. WHen belaying with twin ropes feeding the rope can also be a little tiresome.

This problem can be rectified by using the plate back-to-front as the opposite side is smooth.

The ATC-XP is also perfectly suitable for abseiling after you have topped out on a climb. It doesn't take much effort to hold your own weight due to the toothed design.

I have known other climbers aren't so keen on using toothed belay devices as they can be detrimental to the rope. But as long as you look after all your equipment properly I don't see this being a problem.

The plate is made from cast aluminum to minimise weight. It has an extended webbing that provides better rope orientation and helps prevent kinking.

The device, as with most climbing gear, is incredibly light and over-designed. It weighs 89 grams and will never, ever break. It costs a couple of pounds more than your average belay plate but it's worth it! Incidentally, if you are completely new to this game then you also have to purchase a screw gate carabiner (and a harness of course). The best type of carabiner for belaying is a D shaped one. They typically cost between £8-£10.

If you are just getting into climbing then this is the belay device for you. It's very well designed also comes in lots of pretty colours! Blue, silver, gold and black to name but a few! It's probably one of the best belay devices on the market at the moment.

If anyone has any climbing related questions and want them answered in lingo familiar to a relatively new climber then feel free to ask. People talking about cruxse, pinches, slaps, crags and Egyptians can get a little confusing!

Thanks for reading!


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Comments on this review

  • plod591 published 22/02/2009
    Highly interesting review, I could have done with this sort of thing back in 63 when I was made to climb the mast at Ganges and going round the ' devils elbow ' ! LOL.
  • Helenofellon published 10/08/2007
    Great review, can relate to this just starting climbing and belaying. You need faith in your equipment x
  • monkpunkgaming published 09/08/2007
    Brillent review.
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Product Information : Black Diamond ATC XP

Manufacturer's product description


Product Details

Long Name: ATC XP

Genre: Climbing Equipment

Type: Belays

Manufacturer: Black Diamond


Listed on Ciao since: 11/05/2006