Black Diamond Index Ascender

Gear Review: Ascender

Company: Black Diamond

Product: Index Ascender

We’ve all had that moment in a gear shop where you just want to buy everything, but your wallet disagrees. Vehemently. Luckily for you, I will tell you why adding the Index Ascender by Black Diamond (BD) to your gear collection is a good investment. You might be able to survive without it, but living will be so much better with it.

If you’ve never used an ascender before, the basic premise is you choose an ascender for your non-dominant hand to pull you up. If you’ve ever tried to pull on a rope before, it’s pretty hard to get a good enough grip on the rope to feel steady. An ascender’s teeth grip the rope so that you just have to grip the ascender’s handle, which is much easier, and it allows you to keep pulling at different angles without any sliding. This is crucial for any jumarring, and it’s incredibly helpful for jugging up or cleaning.

When I was starting out as a route setter, I got to try out a few different ascenders. Quickly, I realized that no one can really compete with BD’s ascenders. Firstly, they are very sturdy and sleek looking. More importantly, they grip the rope like no other. Once it’s on the rope, it’s not coming down. At the same time, moving it up the rope is insanely smooth…it doesn’t fight you at all going up. When it’s time to come down, the place for your thumb to disengage the teeth is just the right size and texture so that it’s easy to take down, but not easy enough to happen by accident. Security is the most important feature this ascender has to offer.

Another feature of this security comes in handy even during single pitch routes outside. Climbers might choose to follow a route for a few different reasons, but sometimes that is the only reasonable way to clean an overhanging route. Maybe it’s just me, but overhanging routes can be pretty tough/low percentage, especially outside, and so taking falls on them is pretty common. It can feel pretty impossible to get back on the wall after a big roof fall. When you’re pumped (which, you know, is the name of the game for overhangs), it makes it even harder to get back on the wall. With this ascender, all of that struggle alleviates. Whenever you take a fall, you can just pop it on the rope and get a grip on the rope that won’t slip. From there, it’s a walk in the park to get back on the wall. No more awkward bouncing and slipping. BD designed this ascender so that it can easily fit on your harness without crazy hassle, so you can just throw it on before you follow in case you need it.

You may not need an ascender in every situation, but it is pretty tough to be caught in a situation where you really need one and you don’t have one. So, I would suggest looking out for future you and taking a look at one of these handy gadgets from BD (pun intended).

Recommendation: Experienced ropes climber

Specs: 200g; fits 8-13mm ropes; left & right handed versions

MSRP: $84.95; $67.96 current sale


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