From working trade shows and talking with climbers from around the country, the one thing I always hear is how much climbers love the Petzl Zig Zag! This mechanical descender takes the place of your friction hitch and allows the climber to flow through the tree with the touch of a finger! Imagery aside, this device is a huge stepping stone is most climbers’ careers, signaling a move away from the Blake’s Hitch or Tautline into cutting edge climbing.
An Easy Transition
The Petzl Zig Zag has been on the market for quite a few years now and it has continually been one of our top selling devices at shows. When climbers first feel how easily it advances up the rope, with almost zero friction, they are always amazed. If they have been climbing on a Blake’s Hitch, then they know how cumbersome and frustrating it can be to try to push the hitch up after climbing a Pine tree or when their rope is wet. Because of the metal chain links that make up the Zig Zag, it easily opens up when pushed up the rope. Since the chain links have gaps in between each of them, they also allow dirt and debris to fall out instead of getting ground into the fibers of your rope!
The built in micro pulley is another added feature that helps make the Zig Zag’s design so great. Since the device is so compact, it has almost no sit back. Sit back is the distance your body and system will move before it becomes taught again. For climbers on a Blake’s Hitch, they are used to pushing up their hitch with their hand, which results in almost zero sit back; however, when those same climbers move to a new system, they need to adjust to the amount of sit back in modern climbing systems. The Zig Zag does have some sit back, but not nearly as much compared to a friction hitch such as the VT. This makes the transition from a more traditional climbing system to a Zig Zag far less intimidating.
It’s Beauty Is Its Simplicity
From conducting training with many people over the years, it seems that not a lot of climbers want to learn new knots. Climbers know what knots work well for them and, for the most part, that’s all they need to know. The Zig Zag is simple enough to understand. First, you feed it onto the end of your rope towards your eye splice. Next, you clip the eye splice to the Zig Zag. Finally, you “Climb on!” The beauty of this device is its simplicity. You simply touch the top link and the device depresses and starts to come down the rope. If you let go, the device grabs almost immediately. Simple!
A built in swivel also makes spinning around on the trunk or while free hanging a thing of the past. The swivel helps keep your rope from getting twisted while you are working your way through the canopy, whether you’re chasing dead wood or dismantling a big dead canopy. Regardless of what type of work you are doing, no one likes their rope to be twisted while they are climbing. The swivel helps reduce that from happening.
Enjoy Friction Free Climbing
When the Zig Zag is teamed up with a friction saver, like a Pulley Saver, it truly shines in the friction free climbing department! The Pulley Saver lets you climb on a pulley instead of rings at your tie-in point. The pulley reduces almost all of the friction that you would feel if you were tied into a natural crotch. This makes it easier to move out onto a long limb walk because you won’t be pulling and fighting with your hitch. Rather, a light touch to the Zig Zag and you can be hustling to the tips in no time. This combination is well worth trying out at a trade show or in our show room. I can guarantee that you will fall in love with it!
Another cool combination is matching the Zig Zag with a Petzl Rollclip Z. The Petzl Rollclip Z is a locking carabiner with a built in pulley. By attaching the Rollclip Z onto the top attachment hole of the Zig Zag, you can create a V Rig. A V Rig is a great technique for moving around in short wide spread trees; this combo is great for just that, moving! A typical V Rig setup without the Zig Zag is a bit more gear intensive, so this helps cut a couple of pieces out of the setup.
The biggest piece of advice I have for anyone possibly looking to make the switch is to get a Zig Zag in your hands and get some climb time in on one of these great devices. The friction free movement up and down the tree will make you really appreciate the technological advancements the climbing industry has made recently. We would love to have you come in to our show room and try one out in our demo tree. Hope to see you soon!