I have seen a handful of methods and devices on the market: http://www.rockexotica.fr/products/downloads/belay.html (Wayback Snapshot here) These include Rock Exotica's "Soloist", "Solo-Aid", and "Silent Partner" devices.

But its not clear to me that any of the these devices do a better job than a simple ascender would do. Can anyone share any experiences or preferences for solo-top roping gear? (Note: I consider solo lead climbing an entirely different beast and am not asking about that here.)


4 Answers 4


You should not use a toothed ascender as a fall can sever the rope. Additionally these devices are typically not usable for decent therefore additional equipment is required anyway.

Section 6 of this report has testing of fall-arrest devices:

Lyon Equipment Limited - Industrial rope access


There is no definitive answer. To quote Petzl "It must be understood that all systems are flawed, because this means there is a risk, however minor." General principles for solo climbing with a fixed belay rope.


The Petzl mini/micro-traxion are what most people seem to use. Outdoor gear lab did a recent comparison with a few other devices.

I've also seen Gri-Gris used for that purpose, though it's obviously not recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Really? Traxions have a toothed cam, and the mini/micro versions are even worse due to the small-radius pulley. Both of these are harmful to the rope sheath in the event of shock load. Devices designed for self-lining (such as the Shunt) have no teeth on the cam, allowing some slippage as they start to bite, more like an actual belayer. Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 10:56
  • @TobySpeight That's why the system needs to be designed so that a shock load won't occur. Petzl recommends certain toothed ascenders for top rope soloing, but they recommend against the shunt. See m.petzl.com/US/en/Sport/…
    – Qudit
    Commented Oct 13, 2018 at 20:23

I use a Petzl shunt:


As noted by others, self-belay is always going to carry risks - the shunt has a smooth camming surface so is rope friendly, and hopefully with top-roping you are going to have very limited impact on a fall.

The shunt is used by a number of pro-climbers to help them when they are red-pointing hard sports climbs. Eg. Dave Macleod:


Or at 3m25s on Indian Face (see oddly helpful YouTube comments!):


Steve McClure:


Hope this is helpful!


  • While many people seem to use the shunt for top rope soloing, Petzl recommends against this use. See m.petzl.com/US/en/Sport/…
    – Qudit
    Commented Oct 13, 2018 at 20:21

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