Any new piece of kit gets me quite excited. However the Edelrid Ohm has turned out to be my favourite in quite a while. I thought I’d take the opportunity to shout about it. Especially when it may well become the tool to expand some folks climbing options. Read on if I have ‘peaked’ your interest . . .
What is it?
The technical term for the Ohm is an assisted braking resistor. If you’re an average sized person with equally average sized climbing friends, you’ve probably never suffered the frustration of being lifted to the first clip when you are lowering off your climber, or the terror of wondering if your tiny belayer can hang on if you take a whipper. The Ohm resolves this issue by adding enough friction to balance things out.
The actual mechanics of it in action are pretty simple. The climber ties on, threads the rope through the Ohm and clips it to their harness. This is clipped into the first bolt instead of a quickdraw. When the rope is slack it runs through the wide part, any form of tension lifts the device and forces the rope into the narrow section creating more friction. Thus slowing everything down.
Why did I buy one?
Simple, I'm 5 feet tall and my partner in crime is a foot taller and about 50kg heavier than me. Retailing at £100 it isn't a cheap piece of equipment. However on the basis that almost every adult in the known universe is bigger than me, the Ohm is a worthy investment. Giving me more options for climbing partners without worrying about safety.
From the Belayers Point of View
- One positive I hadn't considered is how much better I felt not having to use a sandbag. With my shiny new toy I can belay properly, walking to and from the wall, rather than frantically paying out and taking in rope because I'm tethered down. Additionally, the ridiculous, irrational shame of 'not being a good enough belayer' as I drag a bag across the climbing wall is gone.
- When belaying you do have to pay more attention to the amount of slack in the system. I have found that the resistor stops the rope running through so sometimes the loop of slack rope stays further up, making it harder to spot. A regular gentle tug on the rope soon sorts it out.
- The first time I used it the noise scared the living daylights out of me. As the rope goes tight, the Ohm lifts and then it comes back down with a thump. It's not a criticism, just something I wasn't expecting.
- Due to the constant lifting and dropping. The carabiner does a lot of moving and is considerably heavier than a quick draw, I'll be keeping a close eye on it because it will probably need replacing quicker.
The most critical point of note is that even when the climber is taking a fall, there is barely any pull from the rope!. I do get moved about one step forward, which is the distance the device travels before it is upright and locked in, then from there I can't tell I've got a heavy climber on the end of the rope, it's brilliant!
From the Climbers Perspective
On the basis that I can only review this piece of gear from one point of view (if I tied myself to this thing I don't think I'd ever come down!) I asked Gaz for his thoughts on using it, and this is what he had to say:
- Threading the rope is easy and it always helps to have a diagram to follow. Clipping it to the first bolt the right way takes some time to get used to. After a few goes it feels natural.
- You have to clip it left to right on the bolt, otherwise the webbing twists when it is in action. If you're desperate and do it right to left it still works, but it's always better to get it flush.
- When pulling rope through to clip a draw you can hardly feel any resistance, which is great. If your belayer does not pay out the same time you pull through you do get the rope 'lock', but this is overcome by lowering your hand slightly and then continuing to pull up.
- If you take a fall you still get a nice smooth catch without any sudden jerks or halts. When lowering off you get a feel that your 'feather weight' belayer is in much more control and able to handle your 1 or 2 extra pies with ease.
- Retrieving the OHM can be done in a few ways, either un-clipping it from the first bolt when being lowered (if you're on a slab or vertical wall), but as soon as the device is un-clipped the belayer has your full weight on them. Option 2 is to re-climb to the first bolt and un-clip the Ohm and climb back down. The disadvantage of this is if you have a high first bolt it can be a bit sketchy.
Our overall thoughts? A great piece of kit that we can't wait to use on some outdoor sport routes!