With any new climbing technique there is a learning curve that needs to be addressed. For the longest time I would preach to other climbers when training them that you must always try new techniques “low and slow.” Obviously this means to try out all your new fancy gear or new thing you saw on youtube low to the ground and slowly at first! With all the preaching I did with this, I will humbly admit that I never did it myself. Out of pure stupidity and confidence in my climbing ability I would try out new things or gear at heights far greater than I would ever let anyone else.
This leads me into the Camp Turbo Foot Ascender. We started carrying these cool ascenders that feature two rollers to help with the slack generated during takeoff while climbing. Upon inspection the foot ascender looked to be very well built with heavy duty straps and a very lightweight design. The toothed ascender gripped the rope well and the spring tension was super light making it glide up the rope without generating any slack.
In the past I have climbed on a CMI foot ascender and a CT foot ascender. Both of these ascenders feature a locking cam, meaning that the rope cannot come out of the ascender while ascending. Therefore I could have the sloppiest style and technique ever and that rope would not come out of the ascender. This is great when starting out because using a foot ascender in the first place is way different than anything we are used to doing with traditional climbing techniques. In the event of a bee attack or the need for a quick descent the locking mechanism would have to be disengaged before descending which could lead to more problems.
The Camp Turbo Foot and Petzl Pantin both have non locking cams. If the needs arises for a quick descent the climber can kick their foot backwards, disengaging the cam, and making their descent quick and pain free. This feature is awesome unless you are used to a locking cam! The first time I used the Camp Turbo Foot I proceeded to kick out about 10 out of the 15 steps I took with it. As you can imagine, this is extremely frustrating! I could fly up a rope with a locking cam but now I was flopping around like a fish out of water and I was not happy.
I took the foot ascender off and threw it in my gear bag and that’s where it stayed for the past 3 months! After we started carrying the Rope Runner I decided to give the Turbo Foot another go. I found that by dropping my toes when ascending that the Turbo Foot would stick to the rope and not kick out at all. Once I reached my work I can kick my foot and be ready to work. All it took was a matter of trying and figuring out the system instead of giving up. Even though this isn't a matter of life or death like the “low and slow” training it is still along the same lines. If I would have stayed low and slow and kept trying the technique I would have known that the Turbo Foot is probably one of the best foot ascenders I have ever used!
Check out the Camp Turbo Foot ascender as well as our other foot ascenders in the video we made!