There is a world of belay devices out there now, all with one task, to assist with preventing a climber from falling too far, all with pros and cons. So when I picked up the Simond Karo Belay device my original intent was to try this out for beginners.
The Karo is a simple and lightweight belay device designed for single ropes. Ropes glide through the belay with ease, until your partner falls off, then it locks off as good as any other belay device. While your climber moves, it's a simple belay plate that works well, so nothing special there. It's simple, light and easy to handle.
The difference occurs because as a coach I work with many clients who may be pushing their limits, they need me to be a responsive belayer. On long days or hard climbs I need to be able to hold on to ropes for long periods at a time without getting fatigued.
A usual solution for a basic device is to tie off the belay, or use an assisted braking device. Tying off can take time and be a little fiddly assisted braking devices can require extra skill to prevent hard catches especially on trad climbing or with a lighter climber.
This is where the Karo comes in to its own, pull your rope a little to the side and watch it bite into the notch on the belay. This felt like it removes 80-90% of the climbers weight from the rope, and if i decide to tie the rope off it’s so easy to do with very little weight on the device.
For the simplicity and optional breaking function of the Karo, I have found myself reaching for this belay more than any other device, for indoors, sport or single rope trad.
And when paired with a quality Harness and Carabiner you can guarantee a comfortable belay session, where your focus is on the climber and not your discomfort.
*A happy coincidence
As someone who works with novices I have found the Karo has an extra benefit when paired with your typical climbing wall rental harness, where the belay sits sideways. When it comes to lowering the rope automatically slips into the groove making lowering easier.