BETTER THAN A GIGAJULby Tom Weber on 03/22/2022
***A lot of this review is going to be comparing the Alpine up to the Gigajul because of the similarities in their application and the amount of press that the Gigajul has received.***
For a baseline I am a big fan of the Gigajul and how versatile it is. The first problem I have with it is the way that Edelrid has marketed their product and how to safely rappel with it in assisted brake mode. I have seen numerous videos put out by the company demonstrating an assisted brake rappel wihout a backup; because of this I was under the impression that this was an officially recognized method and was considered safe by the company. Then I checked the instruction manual: while they do recognize rappelling in assisted brake mode they ONLY recommend doing it with a third hand backup. To me this is a massive failure in communication. Rapping in assisted brake with a prussik is such a cumbersome process that it cannot be taken seriously. If rappelling in assisted brake mode is truly unsafe without a backup then they should take it off their official recommendations entirely. (To be clear I have tested it on a freehanging rappel with a second rope and could only get it to slip about a foot at most on 2 strands of 8.9mm rope so I do consider it safe ). Rapping in assisted brake mode is very jerky until you get the knack for it so to some this might not matter but it is still a feature that a new-comer might consider when looking for a new device.
Contrast this to the Alpine up where assisted brake rappelling sans backup is officially endorsed both in all promotional material and in the instruction manual. Not only that but the rappel is FAR more smoothe in assisted brake mode than the Gigajul and dropping on the device I get next to no slippage at all. (I do have a problem with the marketing behind the lever on the back of the device because it is much more effective to just use your palm as you would with any of the other Clickups)
My Second issue with the Gigajul is that for a device that seems so well suited for multipitch climbing, the amount of friction through the device while bringing up a second is among the worst that I have seen. If you are a guide, lead all of the pitche in your group, or do 8+ pitch climbs regularily you will kill your elbow.
The only device that I have encountered that has less friction from above is a GIGI or a Grigri.
My only problems with the Alpine Up are its weight, which is not a big deal, and the issues with fixing it to an anchor without dropping it. Because of the way that the guide hole sits above the rope you haver to attach the ropeand then clip it to the anchor which can lead to dropping the device. Instead I wind up attaching the device to the anchor via the release hole at the bottom of the device, then inserting the rope, then attaching it via the guide hole, and then detaching the carabiner in the release hole. If not for this I would have given it 6/6