I purchased a Wild Country Variable Controller a while ago but have only used it a couple of times. It has an asymmetrical profile meaning one side provides more friction (for belaying) and the other less so (for abseiling). The problem is, it’s not clear to me from either experimentation, the instructions, or any online reviews (very few) which way round is supposed to be which. Which orientation provides more friction than the other?

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  • 1
    I would just contact the company.
    – user2169
    May 23, 2021 at 13:57
  • Please note, that depending on your ropes you may want more friction during rapelling as well. Rapelling with a 9.7mm single rope I use the low-friction side. But when rapelling off my half ropes (8.3mm, so still rather fat for todays standard) I prefer the friction side
    – Manziel
    May 25, 2021 at 8:34
  • @Manziel yes, good point. Same goes for belaying on different rope thicknesses too.
    – Darren
    May 25, 2021 at 8:36

1 Answer 1


Actually, having looked at the manual online it makes more sense than I remembered.

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Having the active rope pass through the broad end provides more friction than if it is inserted through the thin end.

  • 2
    I think of it the other way around - having the control rope pass around the narrow end gives more friction (it's the sharpness of the bend in the control rope that determines the amount of braking). May 26, 2021 at 8:44
  • @TobySpeight that was a theory put forward by my friend, but this is information straight from the manufacturer, so…
    – Darren
    May 26, 2021 at 8:50
  • 2
    Oh, I'm not disagreeing with the conclusion - just showing my reasoning as to how I got there. control=narrow ≡ active=broad. May 26, 2021 at 8:54
  • @TobySpeight I understand.
    – Darren
    May 26, 2021 at 8:55
  • Toby I believe you were right first time .. Slick = Fast/Low Friction, Forgiving = Slow/High Friction Nov 15, 2023 at 10:38

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