This has been sat in my drafts folder for ages, so I’ve updated and published it today to continue my current theme of kit reviews and thoughts. Below is a photo of 4 of my Figure-of-8 descenders from the Peak Instruction kit store. 2 have had a maximum of a dozen abseils, the other 2 have had a recorded 300 abseils in 3 sessions over the last few months.
There are two pairs of identical 8’s here, one by DMM and one by CAMP, one of each has been used 300 times and one used only a dozen times.
The wear grooves you can see are not just through the red anodisation but are distinct enough for me to place a finger nail into, almost matching the contour of it perfectly.
The other wear around the outside of the larger ring is scratching caused from the 8’s being pulled up the abseil back to the top for the next abseiler.
I have 2 observations on this:
Pulling the 8’s back up the crag to reset the system has dramatically impacted the lifespan and appearance of the descenders. I have been monitoring these for burrs or other sharp edges and will bin as soon as they inevitably appear.
If possible, have plenty of 8’s so the clients can walk them back to the top, which is not something I’ve been practically able to do at Tegg’s Nose quarry where they have been used.
Secondly, the quality, age, cleanliness and suppleness of the ropes you use for abseiling on is a factor in the wear. The 1st 100 abseils I used nearly new Mammut Performance 10mm static in the dry and the wear was only just becoming noticeable to the touch. The second 100 abseils I used a shorter, but older & stiffer Mammut rope. It was a wet day and the rope soon became dotted with sand and grit. This day caused almost all of the main wear on the rope contact surfaces. The 3rd set of 100 abseils was done on a nice supple Beal 9mm and I could not really tell any difference between the state of the 8’s before or after the day despite it being a wet day and some grit getting onto the ropes.
I have concluded that I shall now try to have clients walk the descenders back to the top at crag/quarry abseils to reduce the scratching on the outer surfaces. I may need to have a few more descenders available but that is probably cheaper in the long run.
I’ll also be sticking with my nice supple 9mm Beal ropes, making sure they stay clear and grit free in use as much as possible. The added advantage of 9mm is that most clients will get a smoother abseil over 10mm stiff rope and I can always use a higher friction descender, like a DMM Anka, for heavier clients.
One final observation: CAMP use a slightly softer alloy on their 8’s than DMM do. The wear difference, although not huge, is still noticeable.