Petzl Mini Traxion Self Belay - Human Error almost tragedy


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Jim Henson's Basement
Dec 2, 2010 - 02:04pm PT
Beat me to it while I was taking a pic but here it is again:

Modified gri gri is on the left side.

modified gri gri &#40;left&#41;
modified gri gri (left)
Credit: justthemaid

Hole drilled to allow a small keeper cord to attach to a chest harness.

Credit: justthemaid

I also use a steel carabiner when soloing these days after reading a few accident reports about bent/broken biners and I tie tons of back-up knots. I'm climbing stuff that is so incredibly easy I never fall on the thing anyhow.

Edit to add: I haven't actually read any actual reports about a deaths due to this setup... injuries from not tying backups and scary damaged biners... yes... deaths .. no. Any links?

Definitely NOT recommended by the manufacturer.


Social climber
Dec 2, 2010 - 02:06pm PT
The death mod.
This includes removing a part of the cover sheet as well as drill a hole for a cord to keep it upwards.

Trad climber
washington indiana
Dec 2, 2010 - 02:29pm PT
I have used the gri gri a couple of different ways. Tied off with slings to a tree for soloing on lead - only on climbs I know by heart with little danger of falling - works o.k. but can get you in some interesting situations. I like to hang the gri gri off the top rope anchors, rappel down and then tie into the climber side and pull the brake side as I climb. Easier than having the gri gri on your harness but pretty much limited to vertical routes where there is no interference with the gri gri.
I have an Ushba but have not used it much - seems like a well made piece of gear. Lately I would need a gri gri and an Ushba with two belayers to drag me up a 5.5 :)
karsten delap

Dec 2, 2010 - 08:28pm PT

People are still backing up belay loops!?!?

Good grief.

Trad climber
Ridgway, CO
Dec 2, 2010 - 11:39pm PT

I've used a mini-traxion for extensive solo ice top-roping in the Ouray Ice Park . . . an efficient, excellent and relatively safe method of getting a serious and very steep ice work out. One can really develop the intuition and examination necessary for cruising vertical water ice. The park's man-made ice has its own idiosyncrasies, that separate it from naturally formed ice. I only use a 10mm+ static line for these applications.

Enjoy your winter in Ouray and I'll see you at the park!

Melbourne Australia
Dec 3, 2010 - 12:54am PT
I keep hearing about a mini-traxion, can a pro-traxion also be used for the same purpose? If not why not?

San Diego
Dec 3, 2010 - 11:46am PT
I've been using the mini-traxion for about 4 years now. Same basic set up as the photo with the blue webbing on the upper traxion. I couldn't be happier with the results. I can't imagine dicking around with a gri-gri to try to do the same. Life is too short. In the beginning I had concerns about the wear on the rope from the teeth. It was for nothing. The friction from the rock itself wears out the rope much faster. My Mini-traxion is the most reliable climber partner I have ever had. It doesn't whine, get sick, or have a wife that doesn't let it go climb.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Dec 3, 2010 - 11:50am PT
Reliable partners..... ^^^^

Bow bow bow


Trad climber
Grand Junction, CO
Dec 3, 2010 - 12:08pm PT
I first stated out with a protraxion (my wall hauler, all I had) and the way that thing orients the rope makes for sh#t TR device. I then Got a Protraxion, even got two. I was thinking about modifiying it to take out the lock out but never got to it because it sketched me out. If the route wandered, the jaws didnt seem to want to close. I then came across that Petzl Rescue- sender and have been using that with a steel locker and rubber bands to orient the device on the biner. I run it on the belay loop with the small BD sewn sling looped around my harness attachments. Not only does it roll smooth, there are no teeth and it is a truly simple device that seems fool proof.

I saw camp was making a new device that might make a good TR device.


Mountain climber
Dec 8, 2010 - 11:44am PT
I sometimes solo toprope by fixing a line and clipping a grigri to my belay loop with a locking biner. Then as I climb up, I have to pull the slack through the grigri as I go. Once I'm aboout 10 ft off the deck, I tie a figure eight on a bite and clip it to my harness (this should prevent decking) and then tie more back up figure eights higher up, if needed. I've never fallen unexpectedly on this rig but have weighted it and used the grigri to rappel back down (jerky but safe). Anyone heard of anyone else using this setup? The obvious disadvantage is having to pull slack through the grigri, but it only requires one hand and is pretty easy.
scuffy b

Three feet higher
Dec 8, 2010 - 12:52pm PT
That's been done a lot, jtarbox.
There's a consensus around your impressions.
The minitraxion approach lets you focus more on the climbing,
which makes a big difference if the climbing is not easy.

Sport climber
Noank, Ct
Feb 21, 2011 - 06:58pm PT
Kalimon said:
"the park's man-made ice has its own idiosyncrasies, that separate it from naturally formed ice. I only use a 10mm+ static line for these applications."

I also use a 10 mm static line when solo top roping with my MT (as I was taught by two experienced climbers at a local crag). I have caught a lot of flack from other folks who swear that using a static line in any climbing application is nuts; it is my belief that as long as there is minimal slack in the rope, the dynamic load on the rope is minimal during a "fall". Thoughts anyone?
Off White

Tenino, WA
Feb 21, 2011 - 07:55pm PT
I got converted to Dan McDevitt's system last spring, especially good for a big guy like me. Mini Traxion just strikes me as a wee bit flimsy.

Credit: Off White

Shoulder harness or a couple slings

Microcender on top, tied to the shoulder rig & clipped to belay loop with DMM belaymaster. I really like the Gibbs style teeth that pinch the rope instead of gripping the sheath. This is the primary piece.

Back up piece is a handle-less ascender also clipped to the belay loop with a belaymaster. Dan uses a Petzl, I used something a little cheaper with Jumar style teeth. The key is putting the biner in the upper hole of this ascender.

Credit: Off White
"the rope goes here..."

Loops on the bottom of the rope, clip my empty pack to it for a little more weight. I climb quite worry free on this system.

Well, one always worries a little, it's part of staying safe.


Trad climber
Feb 21, 2011 - 08:19pm PT
ok, so last fall i had a mini-trax incident. haven't been up to talking about it until now, but figure i probably should.

i've been doing a fair bit of traxing on new routes over the last few years, especially in the back-country, especially on lines too high for bouldering but in areas with fixed-anchor bans, so they end up top-ropes or headpoints. the general idea looks something like this:

some of them have long approaches, so i've gone minimal-- got into the habit of using a single mini-trax. (yeah, i know).

it's actually pretty intimidating launching a big dyno in that scenario, esp. when i'm by myself and an hour from the road. (yeah, i know.)

so last fall, i was working one of these deals, maybe 50 foot total, the business part is the first thirty feet then it eases to like five ten. i'm running a single mini with a locking and a loop of 9/16 to a chest sling to keep it in place.

i get through the hard start and set for the big dyno and hit it, then get up another move or two and i know something's wrong-- i look down and the trax is ganked, not running and i'm trailing an 8 foot loop of rope. the climbing was still hard and thin so i'm just all "f*#kit" and keep going until i hit the easier upper section and can really pause and see what's up.

somehow, the little bit of tail on the knot of the 9/16 had jammed up against the locking biner and stuck the trax sideways-- it wouldn't yank loose easily, so i just soloed the easier bit to the top, dragging up an increasingly big, heavy loop of line.

fortunately i didn't fall so i didn't have to find out what would have happened-- my guess is that the sheath would've torn and i'd have ridden it back to the deck. really ugly.

so before next season starts i'm going to take a dremel to the 2nd mini and make it a regular part of the set-up. i'm also going to try the bungee instead of the chest sling.

Feb 22, 2011 - 10:01am PT
klk, thanks for that.

Was wondering the other day about what a big dyno would be like on a mini-trax. Seems it would have to be fixed upright better than usual. Maybe some elastic mini-t suspenders, but with the "X" in front. Also, you were relatively close to the ground, does the photo show some weight on the rope? Would a prussik and a small weight have helped (stuff sack with rock?)? Have you tried a microcender? I wonder if it moves better, esp. when ropes start to fuzz a bit. Same problems apply I'd guess, but I think I saw Werner using one on a furry rope once.
Nor Cal

Trad climber
San Mateo
Feb 22, 2011 - 10:07am PT
I watched a friend deck while using a Ushba ascender for a top rope self belay. He was not a lucky as you and he broke both feet. He too could have tied a back up knot a few feet off of the ground, but did not.
Disaster Master

Social climber
Born in So-Cal, left my soul in far Nor-Cal.
Feb 22, 2011 - 10:15am PT
Nor Cal

Trad climber
San Mateo Feb 22, 2011 - 07:07am PT
I watched a friend deck while using a Ushba ascender for a top rope self belay.

Any specifics on why it failed? I have used these with no problems. Did it get stuck open

I like them because they have a full plate cover, hard to have the rope slip out. And the cam design is cool.
Ushba Basic
Ushba Basic
Credit: Disaster Master
Nor Cal

Trad climber
San Mateo
Feb 22, 2011 - 10:56am PT
the Ushba was atached to his bleay loop with a single carabiner, as he climbed the ushha would hang down below his crotch and slide up the rope as he climbed. Since the Ushba was hanging down it had to rotate up to lock off, essentially he had to fall past his ushba before it would lock off on the rope. He had fallen two minutes before the accident and the device functioned properly.
Well, he grabbed the rope in this particular fall and in doing so he never fell past his ushba and it slipped down the rope along with him. Once he let go of the rope (burnt his hands) the ushba locked off and prevented his head from hitting the ground. Had he been 5 feet higher he may not have broken his feet.
In hind sight he should have tied a back-up knot in the second strand of rope (the rope was anchored in the middle leaving two ends hanging, one to rappel and back up to and the other for the ascender). And a chest harness would have keep the ushba in its proper orientation.

Trad climber
Feb 22, 2011 - 11:24am PT
Was wondering the other day about what a big dyno would be like on a mini-trax. Seems it would have to be fixed upright better than usual. Maybe some elastic mini-t suspenders, but with the "X" in front. Also, you were relatively close to the ground, does the photo show some weight on the rope?

That's not the climb it happened on, but it was a similar one.

Once you have enough rope out, the trax runs plenty smooth, whether you're running two (recommended) or doing an upright single as I was (not recommended). On short stuff I usually lightly tension a pack or other weight. The day I had the incident, I had the rope lightly tension to a pack just to make certain that the damn thing would run smoothly through the dyno.

What happened in my incident was simply that the tail on the knot from the 9/16 webbing that kept the trax connected to my chest harness-- and thus upright and tracking smoothly --somehow got sucked into the hole with the biner and the thing jammed with the biner in an awkward position.

I had been careful with my knots-- one possibility is that the rig was grazing the rock slightly as i moved up and that helped the webbing work into the biner hole.

I had considered that possibility, but thought it was like a one-in-a-million sort of risk. I hadn't expected to ever actually see it, let alone have it be a problem mid-climb. I don't think that the dyno was a causal factor.


Feb 22, 2011 - 11:58am PT
seems like a second mt would not have helped much in this rare case b/c the top one jammed and slack gathered above it.
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