Testing the Beal Escaper

One of the big pain-in-the-ass when doing long alpine routes that involve long abseils and you’re going light is the weight and space that take ropes, specially if you need to do double rope long abseils. Until now the other options at carrying a second rope were mostly scary, abseiling from a fifi or a sailing fifi were tense and it was not possible to do the smallest mistake. Last year it came into the market the Beal escaper a good solution for abseiling with a single rope and recover-it from the bottom with a ok security. The mechanism is simple, a built in prusik that releases with some pullings:

I have been using the escaper for a few month in different terrains. In a steep sports climb cliff it works perfectly, but probably there is where the use is not the most interesting, compared to mountain climbing or skiing where the weight can make a difference.

Summer climbing

The device makes perfect sense for long alpine routes with no great technical dificulties but abseiling mandatory, routes like Peuterey integral where is possible to free solo most of it but is necessary to do 800m of abseiling, or routes where is uncertain if an abseil will be needed. During my climbs and scrambles in Romsdal area, I often used my escaper with a edelrid radline 5mm of 30 or 60m, and most of the time the escaper has been working perfectly. At the begining my biggest concern was that with weight changing when the abseil was not a steep and regular slope the escaper will lose up and fall during the abseiling, but that seemed great all the time, the bigest problem is to take the rope down in iregular abseils. We need to take in account some precautions if we want to bring the rope down, the abseil should be mostly straight. When is a lot of corners, direction changes, etc. the friction on the rope makes that when we pull the rope down this one moves very little on the top and the escaper doesn’t looses up much. In mountain terrain, many times I had to pull for 20-25 times the rope before this one fell. Second precaution is to fix the escaper on a singke point, fixing-it on a multiple anchors will make the friction much bigger and much harder, or impossible, to take-it down.

Winter climbing

The escaper is also interesting in winter when steep skiing or ice climbing, I have not had any other issues than the same as in dry conditions. Not any particular problems with snow or ice.