Petzl Mini Traxion – Self Belay - Human Error almost tragedy


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Social climber
Tahoe, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 17, 2009 - 11:19pm PT
I want to share this with you just in case there is just one other person out there with the same idea I had. I didn’t see then what seems obvious now in hindsight. I got lucky but almost hit the ground.

I was doing top rope laps on a short climb using my Mini Traxion. The rope was a used 9.9 and it was anchored off at the middle. I had the Mini Traxion on a Petzl OK oval carabiner. As a backup to the belay loop that the oval was connected to, I had a quick draw connected from a leg loop to the oval biner (big mistake). I was on my 3rd lap and had already sat down on the mini traxion about 6 times that lap, so it was on the rope correctly. I went to sit again – looked down at my Mini Traxion - all looked good - I saw that it was pointing downward so I figured I had not even a foot of distance before I would stop. But I fell 18 feet and stopped 2 feet above the ground – just above the coils I had tied in the rope as a counter weight. (When I came to a stop, the Mini Traxion was not touching the coils, but about a foot above). The back of my leg was really rope burned. I looked at the Mini Traxion and it was NOW engaged. Working. Teeth tight on the rope…I got super lucky. That back-up draw I used thinking I was being extra safe (to back up the belay loop) interfered with the opening mechanism – even if for a split second. There is a big groove on the right side of the Mini Traxion and a little pin – and I interfered with this. I also should have taken the time to time to tie a back up knot a little ways off the ground. And next time I will use 2 Mini Traxions. And I now backup my belay loop with a piece of webbing – looks like a 2nd belay loop - that acts just as a backup to the real belay loop.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Dec 17, 2009 - 11:30pm PT
Remember, your top-roping! Not that much force is going to be put on any part of the system.

No need for the extra loop, or quickdraws, or anything but 2 mini's and some good lockers.

Use a chest harness or runners to keep the upper one oriented correctly.

Glad to hear you didn't deck!


Dec 17, 2009 - 11:33pm PT
I made Mini Traxion laps today too and survived.

Thanks for the info, lucky1

Social climber
mammoth lakes
Dec 18, 2009 - 12:26am PT
a seperate quick draw from your belay loop to a jumar below the mt is an awesome back up. it runs perfectly. as far as weight...i dont notice it one bit.

Trad climber
East Wenatchee, WA
Dec 18, 2009 - 12:55am PT
This is precisely why I think it's nuts to trust one of any device while solo-toproping! Anything can fail; you can get a piece of webbing or your shirt stuck between the cam and the rope (I've had it happen), the cam can be locked open, whatever...

I use two Mini-Traxions; one on my belay loop, the other on a half-runner girth-hitched to the tie-in point on my harness. Both on DMM Belay-Master carabiners. The top Mini I've modified with a Dremel (actually a dental handpiece similar to a Dremel) to remove the lock-out, photo attached (the modified one is on the right). Glad to hear you survived! Use two devices; toproping should be super safe!

I think solo-toproping is the safest form of climbing that I do.


Dec 18, 2009 - 01:42am PT
Thanks for that heads up!

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 18, 2009 - 07:31am PT
Hummer - I don't TR solo, but still, love that lockout mod. Very nice. Will keep it in mind if I ever start.

Trad climber
Dodge Sprinter Dreaming
Dec 18, 2009 - 11:28am PT
I run a tibloc above the mini, never had to test it though.


Dec 18, 2009 - 11:59am PT
And you can use the chest slings to self rescue in to rappel.

Dec 18, 2009 - 12:26pm PT
I also run a two MiniTraxion set up, but with the following difference.

Hold the upper MiniTraxion "up" by girth hitching some shock-cord through the hold and then putting the loop of shock-cord over your head and one arm, bandoleer style. The tension of the shock-cork keeps the MiniTrax extended up, so when you sit (or, more importantly, fall) there is almost no slack; it's like falling when on a tight toprope, only they dynamic property of the rope, no fall resulting from the (small to be sure) "slack" in the MiniTrax set up.

More importantly, you don't have to untie the blue webbing in your photo every time you want to disengage the MiniTrax and rap down for another lap. Easier, it seems to me, to just un-girth hitch the shock-cord.

Nice modification with the dremel tool. I'll have to do something like that.


Trad climber
East Wenatchee, WA
Dec 18, 2009 - 05:11pm PT
On vertical climbs I prefer some slack in the system so you can reposition without weighting the rope, plus I just don't like to wear a chest harness of any kind. However, I've tried the setup in the photo above and it does work better on overhanging routes. I found the untying and retying to be a pain also, although I never thought of just leaving it rigged while rapping. That could be my unmodified Mini. I do like the shock-cord idea, have to try that.

No offense to the poster above, but a Tibloc does NOT work for solo-toproping! It only works when pre-loaded; MIGHT work solo-toproping, but I would never rely on it. I also forgot to mention, as soon as I start climbing I reach down and "test" both Minis to make sure they work and catch the rope. And there are times at particularly hard parts of climbs that I'll reach down and slide the tip Mini up the rope to take up excess slack before committing to a move...or if I'm near a ledge or something. Near the ground if the climbing is hard I'll be sure to take up all excess slack, even jump up and reel it in until I'm on tension with the top Mini before I leave the ground.

Trad climber
Dec 18, 2009 - 07:52pm PT
i've been running the set-up in the photo, right down to the biner, and like dmt, i've also been leaving the mini on the rope but open for rapping.

when i'm running a solo device, i'm super careful about the clothes. nothing even slightly baggy, no extra tail on knots, etc.

and yeah, the dremel idea is really good-- i may steal that idea for next season.

and tx to the op for the reminder.

Trad climber
East Wenatchee, WA
Dec 18, 2009 - 08:57pm PT
Good point, klk! Clothes are important, as is the extra webbing on my chalk bag belt (move it to the side). Clothes are also important for the legs...if I wear shorts too "short" the lower mini catches hairs on my hairy legs and it hurts...

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Dec 18, 2009 - 09:06pm PT
luck is fuccked.

it is really just stupidity's drunk brother whom always shows his labia at family gatherings. absurd he is. don't bother your attention with him.

luck disappoints all endeavors.

belive me. i've been just barely smart enuf to tip toe across peril's path again and again, cause the brink of now stimulates me. because you know,
the now has an edge. even a periphery. when your real, you've one paw in the periphery. the other paw on its edge. don't stray to its nuclues because you'll don a negative charge. electric like.

i am glad to hear story of another deviant of genius.

never sprint towards a path where the masses stumble. it is better to undermine your dreams.

swoon your memories. insult your fears. tickle your dreams.

f*#k you.

edit ps
the exit thought is not personal to you, its personal to me, friend.

the last bivy
Dec 18, 2009 - 10:19pm PT
this is good info thanks, I am new to the mini traxion and have been using only one. guess it would be good to upgrade.

Dec 19, 2009 - 05:32pm PT
lucky one, glad to hear you escaped a close call.

Seems a lot of folks these days don't trust their belay loop. Seems odd to me that one would trust a single self belay device like the Mini Traxion yet feel the need to back up their belay loop. I guess it never hurts to back something up as long as you are actually doing that. I guess in your situation you weren't. Same with folks who don't hook their locking carabiner to their belay loop when belaying or rappeling. Instead cross load their carabiner hooking it to both the leg loops and the waist loop. Not sure how serious this situation actualy is but still think more is lost than gained. My thought is, if you don't trust your belay loop, get a new harness. If you don't trust a belay loop on a new harness maybe find a new pursuit. But that's just me thinking.


Social climber
Flatland, Ca
Dec 19, 2009 - 07:23pm PT

Gotta tip a hat to Norweige... has got somethin'

"luck is fuccked.

it is really just stupidity's drunk brother whom always shows his labia at family gatherings. absurd he is. don't bother your attention with him.

luck disappoints all endeavors."

I Just realized, he is dealing with the embodiment of luck and stupidity (at least that's what I read, or how I read it).. Thanks for that Nor!!!


Dude, I guess all I can say is thanks for the information, and I'm glad that this did not ruin your season, or life.

This should let others know about the possibilities...

I hate to say though... (And you already know this)... But.. the leg loop thing.....

yeah.. that was not a good idea...

Now that you have two of these devices.. and can climb safely.... I should be able to spray all kinds of stuff, but won't because.. I am not innocent of errors in my life as well.

Thanks for the post.. we will learn from it..


Tucson, AZ
Dec 19, 2009 - 07:47pm PT
I've been considering getting into solo top roping. I was going to buy a single mini. I will now purchase two (gee, Dad just sent an REI gift cert for Xmas... guess where it's going?).

I will also refer back to this thread for further information.

Thank you for not dying today so that I can learn something ;-)

no really... I'm glad you didn't get really hurt. And thank you for passing along the info (everyone!).


Dec 19, 2009 - 07:59pm PT
Hey anyone out there ever use their MiniTraxion for solo TR-ing on ice routes? I'm going to be living in Ouray for a good chunk of this winter, and while I'll have friends coming through for routes in the 'backcountry' (which isn't too far 'back' in that area), I'm also sure that I'll be doing some soloing in the ice park during the week. Some of it will be ropeless, but I'm planning on using something like the MiniTraxion set up I described above (which I've been using quite a bit here in CA) to solo TR harder things.

So, various bits of literature seem to indicate that the MiniTraxion will bite on "muddy or icy" ropes, and the teeth seem reassuring (especially since I rig with two MiniTraxions). I won't be using ropes that are frozen solid, as I'll be living in town and they will dry out each night, but it still leaves me a bit leery.

Anyone out there actually use a MiniTraxion for ice TRing? On ropes that might be a bit wet/icy?


Dec 19, 2009 - 08:08pm PT

If the rope ices up, oh oh

I've slid down iced up ropes because the ascenders failed to grab and had to prussic out.

But should work as long as the ropes don't ice up.
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