Belay Device: Wild Country VC Pro
7th Mar 2006
Wild Country VC Pro
I have a fair amount of climbing kit, much of it very nice, lightweight and easy to use. I am the first to admit then, that the fact that I still use a beaten-up old Stitcht Plate with some worn tat as my first choice belay device is a tad strange. I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well Wild Country just did. The VC Pro is a significant improvement on what I’ve been using for years. It doesn’t have a coil of wire that gets caught on the stile at Tremadog. It is light weight (67g), and most importantly works very well indeed. It took me a few minutes to get used to the fact that it has been designed to grab the rope/s snugly and apply a certain degree of mechanical ‘hold’ rather than rely entirely on your hand. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a self locking device and you must ALWAYS keep a hand on the dead rope, but the ‘V’ grooves and the curvature of the device mean that holding the rope is a doddle. Releasing the ‘hold’ is the only tricky action that you need to get used to and is a simple matter of grasping the device with your free hand and moving it away from your waist. Be aware when belaying if paying out rope for a clip, this was the only occasion when I had cause to grumble as it took me a while to learn how to pay rope in and out without letting the device apply its hold mid pay-out (more frustrating for the climber than the belayer). Once I’d mastered it I had no more problems.
The device works equally well with single and double ropes, and accepts anything from 8mm to 10.5mm. I think it would be sensible for a diagram to be etched onto the device to ensure that users feed in the rope the correct way around – grooves in contact with the dead rope. The said grooves allow for a decent amount of braking when lowering, but slipping the rope out of the grooves mid-lower speeds up the descent nicely. I did experiment with it configured with the grooves on the live rope and found the braking satisfactorily constant about half way between the fastest and slowest speed available when using it correctly.
It is available in a range of colours:
It is available on its own at £15, which I think represents reasonable value for money, or with a dedicated belay (Synergy) karabiner for £23.