Or may be it is an ascending device...

There are two movable part, both on one axis.


I tried searching about various descending devices, but I find mostly descriptions of Petzl things. This may be some old thing from USSR.

  • any thoughts on how old this is? I've never seen anything like it?!
    – user2766
    Apr 18, 2016 at 15:11
  • 1
    If I had to guess I would say some sort of self belay device: storrick.cnc.net/VerticalDevicesPage/Belay/SelfBelayPages/… It looks like is has a similar mechanism as the Wren Soloist.
    – StrongBad
    Apr 18, 2016 at 16:55
  • Incidentally, most of these belay devices' mechanisms are copyrighted (that's why every manufactures mechanism is subtly different to their competitors) so anyone that made one of these wouldn't be able to sell it.
    – user2766
    Apr 19, 2016 at 15:51
  • Where did you get it from?
    – ShemSeger
    Apr 19, 2016 at 16:36
  • @ShemSeger, My father gave it to me, together with a carabiner (steel, heavy-ish). Instructor said she also has such device (named "кулачёк" - a little knuckle) and it may be useful, but didn't explain the usage yet.
    – Vi.
    Apr 19, 2016 at 18:44

3 Answers 3


This looks very much like a homemade Grigri replication (or a predecessor). I assume from your description that the moving parts both rotate around the visible upper axis (red circle): One is the cover and the upper the block with the hole on the left. The position of the block in the lower part is assumed to be fix.

You insert the rope as in a Grigri, so the rope going to the climber is in the middle and the rope to the belayer's hand on the outside (here: left). If the climber falls, the element in the middle is turned counterclockwise, so the gap on the belayer's side (red circle) narrows and squeezes the rope. Thus it brakes the fall.

However I do not advise to use this device. The same is true for any device of unknown origin.

enter image description here

As to what its called: No idea, but as already stated: It is very similar to a Grigri.

  • 5
    I agrigri, this looks totally homemade Apr 18, 2016 at 11:27
  • 1
    I have never seen a auto locking belay device (aka Grigri) that did not have a handle for to use when lowering.
    – StrongBad
    Apr 18, 2016 at 17:00
  • @StrongBad I completely overlooked that, good point. One more reason why not to use it. Maybe with this design it might be possible to lessen/undo the breaking by pushing the device down i.e. rotating it down around the point where the biner is attached. That is however speculation and even if it works it would be cumbersome and probably hard to control.
    – imsodin
    Apr 18, 2016 at 17:08
  • It is actually not for belaying, but for ascending, like Jumar, but more compact and without handle.
    – Vi.
    Dec 31, 2016 at 14:54

As the others have said, this appears to be a homemade assisted-braking belay device or homemade descender, similar to a GriGri. The moving lobe inside is meant to grab the rope under upward pressure.

More importantly, does the item have a UIAA or EN or CE markings, or any markings at all? I'm guessing not since it appears homemade.

Regardless of whether you understand how equipment is tested and what the litany of hodge-podge of hangtag numbers mean, you know that if that gear bears the UIAA seal, it conforms to the most stringent international standards available.

Always look for certifications on climbing equipment. Usually the problem is identifying fake markings, but this one is easy, there are none. Understand the risks before using it.

  • "Do not use it" or "When in doubt, bin it" appears to be too much a catchphrase here. It looks too first-worldy. Better idea may be not to rely on this (or other suspicious) devices as a sole mean of safety. Instructor said good soviet oldies, although typically heavier, may be more safe than low-quality uncertified Russian equipment which she has seen failing.
    – Vi.
    Apr 18, 2016 at 13:23
  • 4
    @Vi. I understand, I'm not trying to be an equipment snob. You need to judge for yourself whether or not you want to trust your life or your friends life to this device. Modern gear wouldn't exist without old school climbers using homemade gear, but they were like test pilots-- willing to take larger risks to advance the sport. Today, not using UIAA for casual climbing is an unpopular risk trade off. Apr 18, 2016 at 13:38
  • 1
    Just to note: UIAA is not the only standard, there are also EN (and probably more) norms which are adequate. Old (uncertified) gear can often still be used, just not as primary safety device (well it could. but it would not be a good idea).
    – imsodin
    Apr 18, 2016 at 15:16

It is an old DIY ascender device. My instructor approved it. It is not designed to handle falls, descending or belaying.


  • Lightweight and compact
  • Does not degrade rope
  • Can slide up automatically without constant manual adjusting.


  • Can't be used as a sole safety measure (additional belaying is required)
  • No handle. Attach a carabiner to make a handle (not very comfortable)

If somebody wants, I can add photos of sliding and locked states.

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