In the midst of a long climbing trip, climbers have a special event called Rest Day, a break from a week of leisure to pursue an entire day of deeper leisure. Writing this blog allows me to salvage some sense of accomplishment from this particular Rest Day. I can only sit by a pool, read a book, eat, and surf the internet for so long.
I have been climbing in El Potrero Chico, Mexico for the past five days and my fingertips are so raw it hurts to wash my hair, let alone grab onto sharp limestone edges and do anything resembling a pull up. I can, however, review the Petzl Ange carabiner. The Petzl Ange is commerically available in small (S) and large (L) versions, but we have been using only the Ange L. So, here goes…
The idea of a”clean-nose” carabiner may not seem like a big deal, but sometimes snagging a ‘biner while clipping can make the difference between falling and sending. Since clean-nose solid-gate carabiners were released over a decade ago, carabiners have improved very little. Lightweight wire-gate ‘biners have replaced the solid-gate, but most wire-gates sacrificed functionality for weight, and reverted to the hooked gate.
Several manufacturers have a clean-nose wire-gate design. Wild Country led the way with the Helium a few years ago, a design where the nose covers the carabiner hook so that it will not snag. Similar products have been developed by Black Diamond with the Hood Wire, DMM with the Alpha and Shield, and Petzl’s Ange.
There are a few features setting the Ange apart from the others. The most pronounced difference is the single-wire gate that clips into a pocket in the nose, rather than the traditional hook system used on most wire-gate carabiners. This design is very clean and keeps the profile relatively narrow. I have had problems with carabiner noses being too large to fit into small chain links, pitons, and crowded bolts; Petzl eases this problem by designing the Ange nose with a smaller profile than other clean-nose wire-gates on the market.
The shape of the Ange is slightly different than other ‘biners; it has a large basket, and a slightly smaller gate opening. I am not keen on the trend towards small carabiners; in desperate moments when I need to make a clip and keep moving, I need something that fits my hand. I initially thought the gate size would be a problem when clipping the rope, but the Ange’s larger basket makes the smaller gate opening work. The photos illustrate the difference in sizes between the Ange and a few other carabiners on the market.
In the past week, I have clipped and unclipped the Ange on hundreds of bolts covering the walls of El Potrero Chico. I was skeptical about Petzl’s new carabiners at first, but I am convinced the Ange is amongst the most technologically advanced and functional carabiners on the market. It is not the lightest, but I believe it helps pave the way to light, clean-nose wire-gate carabiners becoming standard.
I am not suggesting everyone replace all carabiners with the Ange, but I think this is a noteworthy development. It was a long time coming, but Petzl has created another great piece of climbing equipment. I am thrilled to have another tool that improves my climbing experience. I have 5 more days of multi-pitch sport climbing in Mexico, and will enjoy clipping the Petzl Ange even as my fingertips turn to raw meat.
Keep an eye out for Petzl’s new hauling device, the “Micro Traction”, to make hauling on big walls mildly less unpleasant.
Signing off as the official Zion Adventure Company gear nerd.