The Black Diamond ATC Guide is a supremely versatile belay device with a self-locking Guide Mode. First and foremost the ATC Guide is an excellent traditional belay plate which feeds smoothly and locks up easily. The toothed grooves are slightly smoother than on the ATC XP and so there is less grabbing when abseiling or lowering, but plenty of stopping power, even when you're belaying a heavy leader. The windows in the side of the device reduce the weight without compromising strength and help to dissipate heat when abseiling.
The self-locking Guide Mode is extremely useful for those who climb with multiple seconds or for multi-pitch routes where one person will be doing most of the leading. It allows both seconds to be bought up at once, or for the second to be brought up on a direct belay to your anchor. This lets you climb more quickly (allowing you to do more), but also potentially increases safety margins when you're alpine climbing.
The ATC Guide is a brilliant all-round belay device suitable for a range of abilities from novices (with its amazing stopping power) to alpine climbers (thanks to its time-saving Guide Mode).
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I had the older, heavier version for 3 years of intense continuous usage. The teeth never really wore out which is a great sign, and the other side of the holes (rubbed against when in abseil mode) never wore or sharpened at all, which can be the case with some 'guide' plate devices.
Now this is down to 88g, it was a must buy. The unlocking hole underneath is bigger and will fit a full crab now to avoid any awkward moments while instructing and not being able to release a client.
I know the Petzl Reverso 4 is out soon which will be even better and lighter than the 3, but this is tried and tested and worth it in my opinion.
This device is super! I bought it as my first and only belay device, and it has not let me down.
The teeth are really great for holding even the skinniest ropes down to about 8mm. The guide mode hole is great as it allows me to give a direct belay which other devices don’t offer. And the best thing is that its now even lighter! Definitely worth the money!
(Facewest comment; The Petzl Reverso also the ‘Guide mode’).
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