Friction Savers | Which is best?
Which is best?
In today’s climate, there’s a plethora of versions of the same product, and although they are meant for the same purpose, the question(s) remains: Do they function the same way, how versatile is one versus the other, and how much? In this blog we’ll plunge into various friction saver models and which may be best suited for your needs! Because, believe it or not; the decision to choose one over another can rack one’s brain, and down the road you may find out that you dislike what you have chosen.
Where did the concept come from?
Trekking the internet can lead down multiple rabbit holes, but I was able to find that the friction saver was created overseas and first shown publicly at a European conference sometime in the WAY early 90’s. This climber then brought it to the U.S. for a tree climbing competition, sparked the spread of its popularity. While yes, others have claimed to have thought of it first, it has proven difficult to show concrete evidence as to WHO thought of it first. BUT, one thing is true about friction savers; they have cemented themselves in our industry as a staple!
There isn’t much difference between Teufelberger’s Fimbl Saver and that of the classic ring-to-ring friction saver. Both can be installed from the ground with the aid of a throw line and patience. They both are adjustable thanks to the additional prusik and ring/thimble combo. Why does the need for adjustability exist, don’t they just both lay over the branch union? Well, yes and no for the following reasons.
When using a fixed ring-to-ring, it will drape, but if you have a long friction saver you may well be under the branch union you have decided to tie-into in order to maintain a good rope angle. It may not seem like much, but you might come to find out that those extra inches were needed. The adjustable prusik gives the climber the ability to decide when it’s convenient to have a long system.
Ascending or working a spar. Yeah, I’ve mentioned this plenty of times but that’s only because I am a firm believer of being tied in properly on spars. Having trained spar rescue, it is an eye opener and the realization that came with it; how time consuming this specific rescue can become if there is no primary system for the victim to descend on. Take your adjustable friction saver, whip around the spar and make sure the rings are spread five-to-seven inches when loaded! This creates a cinch anchor on the spar (if the rings continue to touch, the cinch factor is not present).
Teufelberger’s Fimble Saver is not meant for SEWN eyes, the huge clunky terminations done by industrial sewing machines. Splices and SpLife terminations are best. Being a canopy anchor enthusiast, installing the Fimbl Saver from the ground is a plus but I can do that with rings too. The difference; the Fimbl Saver can knot block on either the big or small thimbles. I discovered this by accident during a large prune job; upon retrieval I noticed I had blocked off on the big thimble, but it led to my discovery.
Lengthen the system, whip it around the branch union and pass the pulley through the large soft eye before everything else. Pass your spliced eye through the thimble first and then pass it through the Pinto pulley. If you possess an Equaliza, you may use the Pulleysaver to tie-in between two different branch unions, if one branch union is not ideal. An important thing to note; keep the thimble spread far from the Pinto pulley. If the thimble is too close and it gains access into the pulley, it creates the potential to compromise the pulley or rope.
Cinch mode on a spar. Move the Pinto Prusik combo towards the soft eye and whip around the spar. Follow that by passing your spliced eye through the thimble and then through the Pinto pulley, make sure the pulley and the thimble are spaced out accordingly to create the cinch and so it does not creep into the pulley. In this mode, we remove the use of the soft eye. This configuration does come with a drawback; the thimble contains a core of Dyneema fibers that are not heat resistant. With that being stated, it may not be suitable for long descents/ burnouts.
Traditional spar cinch. Pulleysaver soft eye goes around the spar and Pinto pulley prusik goes through the soft eye. The glorious thing here, not needing to adjust spacing between rings! Spliced eye rope is installed traditionally. Upon retrieval, you may find the system slightly bound to the spar but no worries; just give your rope a good flick and it should come down!
This, along with a few others, has become a favorite for me! Fairly newer to the market; people asked why the need to reinvent the wheel? Different functions remember! Petzl’s Naja doesn’t include any rings or a large soft eye that can get snagged on retrieval. Instead, it has adopted a webbing sling just like its older relative, the Eject, making retrieval from a tight branch union simple and reducing hang ups. I won’t say completely removing hang ups because someone has probably gotten stuck somehow. It is compatible with both SRS and MRS climbing styles, provided it is configured correctly. Down below are some ways to use the NAJA:
Traditional with soft retrieve option. Flip the anchor webbing over the branch union, pass the body of the Naja through the sewn pocket (not exceeding 90 degrees), clip your rope through the Mino carabiner and finally, pass the rope through the Naja. If soft retrieval is desired, there is a separate black webbing that you can install a retrieval line to. This allows the user to control the system on the way down and pick it out of hang ups, if any.
SRS canopy anchor. Forewarning: this does involve some extra steps and another rope. Install your rope in the crown and anchor, either base or Alpine choke. Ascend and physically install the Naja along with the appropriate knot to block it off. Here’s the neat thing with setting it up this way.
You leave an access line in the event of an emergency.
- You can soft retrieve the Naja with this separate leg of rope. Take your base anchor rope and tie an Alpine Butterfly, connect the Mino carabiner to that.
If you opted to ascend on an Alpine choke; on the retrieval leg tie another Alpine under it (like you would a Texas Tug) and connect it to the Mino carabiner. You see where this is headed right?! You won’t even need to connect the retrieval “egg” to your splice, pull your rope from the Naja and when you pull on the retrieval leg of rope, the Naja comes down with it and no worries of hanging up!
- Since the Naja isn’t considered a choking anchor, here’s a tip on how to make it choke. Take the webbing sling and spin it around the stem to be choked but be sure to pass the end of the webbing over top of the first wrap. And, there you have it, a “choking” anchor. It is limited since the webbing that comes with the Naja isn’t too long.
- Stationary redirect. I’m not a crazy fan of non-retrievable redirects, however they do have a place. To use it in a stationary redirect, one would install the Naja normally but then one would pass a bight through the Naja rather than the bitter or splice end and knot block the Naja. Be sure to capture the loop of the appropriate knot and the falling leg. Viola!
There it is, different friction savers with different functions