Warning, this question is about an unproven method. Do not follow these instruction to learn how to belay.

I am finding hard to find any good information about this topic. I know it is possible (but not recomended) to use a figure 8 plate as a belaying device, but couldn't find pictures of how is the device set up. Here is a pic of what i understand would be the correct configuration:

photo of experiment.

Is this way of belaying with a figure 8 plate alright? (Warning, experiment.)

I also came up with an idea of a different set up, which is shown here:

enter image description here

The nice thing about this one is that you always keep your brake hand below the device when giving slack. The bad thing is that the device goes away from the belayer when giving slack (but it returns with a single movement from the brake strand, also keeping the hand below the figure 8 plate). Here is a sequence of how that would work:

enter image description here

So, what's your opinion on using this second method for belaying? What are your feelings about testing this out and if tested and worked properly, are there any reasons not to use it?

---Edit--- The first method is partialy supported by this image from the Black Diamond Product Instructions - Super 8 enter image description here

  • 6
    Don't invent your own belaying methods. First of all: why? Secondly: do you even know what "tested and worked properly" would entail?
    – Max
    Jul 8, 2022 at 7:43
  • The "user interface" of this device somehow wrong because someone is asking this question.
    – D Duck
    Jul 8, 2022 at 8:22
  • 4
    My climbing days (such as they were) are long behind me, but your proposals seem to have a fair bit of rope-on-rope friction, while the proper method is rope-on-metal. I'd expect the rope to wear faster your way
    – Chris H
    Jul 8, 2022 at 12:39
  • 3
    I suppose it doesn't help that the manufactor webpage's link to the usage manual is password-protected; but a copy is hosted here.
    – Eric
    Jul 8, 2022 at 14:14
  • 1
    One other con you forgot to mention of your method is nobody will climb with you. But seriously, the standard ways to belay are used for a large number of reasons. For example, something simple like the correct hand positioning during use of a grigri takes into account what petzl finds is the natural reaction to falls in order to increase the chances of the rope catching. Manufacturers and climbing/canyoneering/etc bodies have all thought through numerous ways to properly and safely belay.
    – noah
    Jul 8, 2022 at 16:09

3 Answers 3


The small hole clips into your carabiner and the rope goes through the big hole and around the shaft, not through the small hole.

Like this (from Canyoneering USA (CUSA)): figure 8

  • 2
    Or basically, exactly the same way you’d use it to abseil. I’m bamboozled by this question, and I’m wondering if OP knows how to use it currently at all, even for abseiling.
    – Darren
    Jul 9, 2022 at 6:33
  • Yes, this is the standard mode for abseiling. But does it provide enough friction to catch a fall from a climber?
    – Dennis Fr
    Jul 9, 2022 at 17:00
  • 1
    @DennisFr yes. After all, this is how it was done before belay plates, grigri etc.
    – bob1
    Jul 10, 2022 at 8:26

Please use safety devices as described in the manual and do not just invent your own modes of belaying.
(And ensure your carabiners are screwed close)

The first variant basically is a single redirection around the carabinern and another one towards the brake hand. The second variant is basically the same with just a bit more friction. This reminds me a bit of the most simple tube style devices without any braking support by ripples. Like this:
enter image description here (Source Black Diamond)
Please not that even if this looks similar, it may not work as well for you as this system is depending on carabiner and rope diameters a lot. I also would not want to have the device move away from me while giving out rope

Compared to the proper way of belaying with a Figure8, this has a lot less frictions and therefore will require more from the brake hand


please do not use the figure 8 in the manner proposed if you want a much longer life.

there is a fundamental problem with your proposal in that the figure 8 descender is not attached to your body via a carabiner or some other means. consider the following scenario -- 100 ft drop, 120 ft rope ... and you accidentally let go of the figure 8 with your hands (slips out of your grasp) ... it is soon out of reach and the loop through it is getting longer by the moment. at 60 ft from the top, 40 ft from the bottom, the tail of the rope exits the figure 8 and you are in free fall for the last 40 feet. just maybe you can grab the tail before it flies by you, but how do you recover?

A quick image search reveals quite a few instruction cards such as https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/Hb8fb9af0116e496ea86639b58cf08b229.jpg showing how to get more rope/metal friction

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