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Trango - Vergo - Belay device tested

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by Mischa (Community) helpful

The thread was edited on 03.05.19

The Only Single Rope Device You Need!

The 'One Stop Shop' is the holy grail of belay devices.

The ultimate goal for any manufacturer is to put out a product that has climbers pulling it off their rack each and every time they prepare for a route. A device that pays slack out like greased lightning, catches instantly with no slip and practically independently, works on a harness and in guide mode, for abseiling and ascending alike.

Well, the Vergo delivers. Quick clarifier - this is not the easiest device to learn to belay with. Aside from anything else, it handles differently enough to everything else on the market to give it a relatively steep learning curve - similar to its closest opponent, the Petzl Grigri.

Like the Grigri, the Vergo presents a perfect performance in pretty much every situation once you've learnt how to handle it correctly. In a regular sport or trad climbing situation it offers a super slick payout and bombproof catch every time, without question.

You see, the great thing about the Vergo (and the thing that sets it aside from pretty much every other device on the market) is that the braking system is *not* disabled when paying out slack. What this means in practicality is that you can be plum in the middle of laying out an armful of slack to your climbing partner as they go for the clip, when their foot pops and suddenly they're in freefall.

With many other devices this situation can result in some nasty catches or burns from rope handling due to needing to get the device back into the right position for braking. Even when using a Grigri you're disabling the braking system in order to pay out slack, meaning that if you grip the device super tight at the wrong time (i.e. trying to hold your partner on a huge whip) the rope can just carry on flying through the system, potentially resulting in them hitting the deck. Sure, this is unlikely to happen - but it can and does, such as when pro-climber Ashima Shiraishi decked out in a gym due to a Grigri not catching in this exact scenario.

When using the Vergo, this is a *non-issue* because the method of paying out slack with the device does not disable the braking system. What this means in practicality is that the Vergo will catch even if you're in the middle of paying out a bunch of slack to your buddy. It just catches, same as always.

On multipitch terrain the Vergo continues to shine due to the same features mentioned previously. I'll compare to the Grigri once again because I view this as the main competitor - when used in guide mode direct on your anchor, the Grigri needs to be very carefully monitored due to a tendency to backfeed (slack rope slipping back towards the seconding climber), something that cannot happen with a classic belay plate in guide mode.
The Vergo doesn't suffer this issue because even the slightest touch of rope weight closes the brake, meaning you can have more flexibility in your belay position and more confidence in your system whilst still retaining the easy rope management of a semi-automatic belay device. Even better, the reversed lever on the Vergo means that when you put it into guide mode the lever faces the correct direction for use, unlike the Grigri which ends up being pushed towards the rock face, leading to complications lowering your climber depending on the angle of the rock & anchor.

When lowering and abseiling the Vergo offers excellent control over the rope, and grabs the rope easily when used as part of an ascension rig or rope capture system for hauling. That said, the new 'progressive lowering' of the Grigri does beat it out in this regard. Especially with thicker ropes, the Vergo can be a little 'on off' when lowering in low-friction situations.

As a previous die-hard Grigri fan, I think it's finally met its match. If you want one device to do everything with a single rope, the Vergo is ready.

Product images by Mischa (Community)
  • Advantages
    Versatile in its use
    Excellent Rope Handling
  • Disadvantages
    Steep Learning Curve
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