ABD Lead Workshop Recap


February 2017

Climb Central

In Feb 2017, we organized a series of ABD workshops to introduce different ABDs and talk about their advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a summary of what we shared. 

Note: This workshop was tailored to lead climbers (because we're focused on ABD lead verification), but some of the general principles may be useful knowledge for top rope climbers too!What is an Assisted Braking Device?

Traditional belay devices use friction to assist you in managing the weight of your climber when you need to catch a fall. Assisted belay devices take this one step further and assist in holding a falling or hanging climber. 

Classification of ABDs 

Active ABDS

Passive ABDs

Why ABDs?



How to use an ABD?

Basic Things to Note for Lead Belaying

  1. Setting Up the Device – Follow the diagrams on the device to guide you. Do a tug check by pulling fast on the climber end to check that it catches
  2. Feeding Rope – Feed consistently and let the hand on the climber end of the rope lead the way. Avoid fast movements as the ABDs might lock. And always always remember to keep one hand firmly on the brake position in braking position.
  3. Taking In – The usual 5-step belay is sufficient.
  4. Arresting a fall – Give a dynamic belay by moving in a controlled manner in the direction of the pull from the fall.
  5. Lowering – Varies from device to device. Please refer to manufacturer recommendation. Generally, always keep your master hand on the braking rope.

We’ve covered 3 devices during the workshop and participants got the chance to try lead belaying with all 3 devices. Here are the manufacturers' videos for your ease of reference. 

EDELRID Mega Jul (Available for rental at CC)

MAD ROCK Lifeguard


Choosing a device 

Some factors to consider…

Check out this useful comparison table for some of the more common devices: http://www.alpenverein.de/chameleon/public/33836d33-9b6d-2389-4802-7115db2dfb12/assisted_braking_devices_chart_26375.pdf 

Whatever device you choose, smooth handling is definitely something that comes with familiarity and practice. And of course, no device is a substitute for bad belaying! 

Bonus for the Tech Junkies 

Find out what’s new and upcoming in 2017: http://www.climbing.com/gear/review-our-top-new-belay-devices-for-2017/

Key Takeaways


Climb Central