Petzl Mini Traxion Self Belay - Human Error almost tragedy


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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.

Dec 19, 2009 - 08:28pm PT

Thanks. I'll definitely keep an eye on this.

I'm hoping that running just a few laps a day when I can't get a partner will mean only running laps on ropes that remain relatively dry. If things get wet or icy, I'll just call it a day.

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Dec 19, 2009 - 10:17pm PT
Holy frig, Prod - throw away that POS Tibloc before you end up dead! You're too valuable as a Voice of Reason on this forum...

Anyone use a Petzl Shunt or Gibbs ascender? Teeth are kinda scary, although the double Mini-Trax setup above is bomber.

Sport climber
Noank, Ct
Oct 18, 2010 - 10:11pm PT
What is the current wisdom on static vs dynamic ropes when soloing with the mini traxion? Also, why not back it up with a loose prusik above the device?

Trad climber
san Jose, CA
Oct 19, 2010 - 12:20am PT
I really like the Petzl Shunt. It is designed for this use and can also be used on a doubled rope, where it makes a dandy backup instead of a Prussic knot when rappeling.
Here is a video of it being used:
A note on what NOT to do:

Petzl's info:


Trad climber
Nov 26, 2010 - 12:07pm PT
The mini-trax is a prussik minding pulley in this case, just gotta leave the prussik loose! Works fine.
Disaster Master

Social climber
Born in So-Cal, left my soul in far Nor-Cal.
Nov 29, 2010 - 07:22am PT
Has anyone used the Ushba Basic ascender instead? I have for years.
Ushba Basic
Ushba Basic
Credit: Disaster Master
The Guy

Trad climber
Portland, OR
Nov 30, 2010 - 05:16am PT
I've been using the Petzl Shunt for just Solo TR. I like that it has no teeth. You do have to slide it along on short routes. I was thinking about or actually was going to go out and buy a MT after all the recent posts about it being "the" device to use for solo TR. After this post I'm just gonna stick with my Shunt. I always half the rope and anchor at the middle. Tie backup loops on one strand and slide the shunt along on the other.

Nov 30, 2010 - 07:02am PT
I read somewhere that a shunt is not advised when using a single line (maybe the Petzl instructions, don't remember). Only one side of the bar will squeeze the rope, because the other side will be empty. This will create leverage on the attachment bar when you weight the shunt.

I have both a shunt and 2 minitraxions. The 2 minitraxions feel a lot more safe to me.

I also once used a tibloc as a backup. It's not a nice thing to do to your rope if you're going to be falling a bit - it slides a little and then bites hard. Poor sheath!

Of course, we're all going to die!

London, UK
Nov 30, 2010 - 08:56am PT
Shunts are popular in the UK, where solo-TRing a route is often called "shunting". The biggest problem in their use seems to be resisting the strong instinct to hold onto the device when you fall (watch the rope-grabbing during falls in any sport-climbing video, usually by people who have taken 100s of falls) with the risk of disengaging the cam.

The Ushba basic is similar to the Rocker (various manufacturers) which I use. This has the advantage of a smooth cam and seems harder to accidentally lock open than some other designs. There is still plenty of potential for human screw-up in even the 'safest' device though. Perhaps a second, different, device increases the margin of safety, perhaps it just adds complexity and indirectly increases risk.
crazy horse

Trad climber
seattle, wa
Dec 2, 2010 - 12:19am PT
does anybody use gri gri's for solo top rope belays these days? I feel like i'm missing something in that i have no idea why any of you are using 1 or 2 mini-traxions for a solo-TR belay. is the mini-traxion really even a belay device? i would be wary of putting even a slight dynamic load on these things.

this shows the breaking load limit on the configuration above as 4-6.6 kN for the top mini traxion, and if the bottom one is really a back up ideally it would weight the rope right under the top one equally to minimize any dynamic loading should the top one break. Which to me means that the bottom mini-traxion, if minimizing the possibility of having to catch a dynamic load would ideally be positioned right below the top one and possibly subject to the same 4-6.6 kN force and perhaps a bit more if it had to 'catch' your fall after the top one broke. You might decelerate after the top one broke but to what 2-4kN? do you really want to chance it? it sounds like you're talking about the possibility of basically taking a daisy chain fall onto a pair of'd never want to do that right?

girth hitching a stopper cable to a bolt hanger failed at close to or above the same values as the top mini traxion according to Petzl's published manual for the device.

unless you can guarantee that there will be absolutely no slack in the system while you're climbing with both hands on the rock (using any of the devices mentioned), i would use some stubby screamers in that connection from the device to the belay loop and ditch the home made chest harness. That thing, should you have to (heaven forbid) put some significant weight on it after an incapacitating accident will cut your circulation off so badly it can lead to serious medical complications should you remain suspended for an extended period of time before a rescue could occur.

it looks like if someone a bit bigger than you 'CF' were to use that exact chest harness setup the piece of blue webbing could pinch your ribs really badly should the blue webbing be pulled taut. to your credit it looks like you've got the blue sling slack enough that it won't happen and your belay biner or belay loop would have to fail for that to happen, but do you really think that's a possibility? if you do think that's a possibility, are you really ready to take that force on that flossy chest harness? Sorry bro, that sounds extremely painful, and remote. I agree with Tork, I don't see the need for the chest harness back up. is the chest harness to keep you upright in case you loose your footing? does it work well for that?

sorry if this sounds like a personal attack folks. it's not meant to be. I really just want everyone to be safe. Any possibility, no matter how minor, of taking a fall onto an ascender/hauling device (especially one with teeth) sounds so sketchy to me.

Dec 2, 2010 - 12:57am PT
gri gri's for solo top rope belays

It will work, but it's a stupid device for that application.

Go ahead and try it and you'll see why.

Also you sound like a paranoid person with no real world experience with this stuff and just wrestling this stuff around in your head.
crazy horse

Trad climber
seattle, wa
Dec 2, 2010 - 08:32am PT
Thanks Werner, are you going to talk about the concept at all, or just try to convince everyone on Supertopo that I'm paranoid and inexperienced?

i've used a gri-gri for a solo top rope belay probably 50 times with no issues. Why don't you break it down for me and everyone else why i would realize it's a stupid device for the application if i had the real world experience you apparently have. I've also used it on a roped solo lead belay (as one would a silent partner) many times, even put in FA's that way. If you're curious about my real world experience, I've been climbing since 1993, I've done el cap a few times, put in ~70 FA's many, solo on a gri-gri from the ground up.
gee double

victor idaho
Dec 2, 2010 - 10:00am PT
bungy cord

Gym climber
wussing off the topout on Roadside Attraction
Dec 2, 2010 - 10:25am PT
All that may be true, but you're still pulling off a convincing impression of a paranoid theorist.

Minitraxions work, they're simple, and they're hard to screw up once you get the system down.

On the other hand, the grigri affords one the added workout challenge of pulling rope up every move or two. What's wrong with that?

Dec 2, 2010 - 11:03am PT
pulling rope up every move or two

That will work if you like that, but stupid since there's better a better system.

And crazy horse I said: "you sound like .." I didn't say you were.

A lot of people have this "OMG" the device has "teeth" paranoia when using the device for this type application.

Then they shouldn't use it.

Simple as that.

Jim Henson's Basement
Dec 2, 2010 - 11:18am PT
Well... I've been using a gri gri all summer for solo TR. We did the modification for the easier rope feed and I use a chest harness to keep it aligned. It "tracks" just fine. I don't have to yard on the rope at all once I get a few feet off the ground and it gets some rope weight on it. I can see how un-modified and flopping around the gri-gri might be a bit of a pain in the behind.

I know I know..




the last bivy
Dec 2, 2010 - 01:06pm PT
what's the mod?

Seneca area
Dec 2, 2010 - 02:00pm PT
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