New Addition to Glacier Kit

| October 21, 2009

Much to the dismay of my partners, I am a minimalist when it comes to the amount of gear I bring for performing a crevasse rescue.  I bring a snow pickett for an anchor, waist and foot prussick loops, a 20′ cordelette, about six Oz carabiners, a screwgate locking carabiner and 2-3 full-length Dynex runners.  It may be less than ideal, but I hate having a ton of extraneous clanking gear clipped to my harness, plus, the best way to avoid taking a screamer crevasse fall is to make sure your rope is taut in the first place.

Ben Ditto screaming for joy after hanging upside down in a crevasse for 30 minutes.

Crevasse falls aren't as much fun as they are cracked up to be. Ben Ditto screaming for joy after hanging upside down in a crevasse for 30 minutes.

According to the Authorities, you should also carry a few other items, including a pulley.  I carried a pulley for a while, but to get a full-strength one (why carry weak gear?) meant even more clanking gear, plus I did some selective reading and found that the pulleys don’t reduce the friction all that much more than just a biner, so I dropped the pulley.


However, on our last trip across a glacier, Dylan Freed had a DMM Revolver carabiner with an incorperated pulley in it which made a ton of sense.  I think the Revolver was originally intended for sport climbing where you were suppose to clip it to the crux bolt so that it would reduce rope wear and impact forces, but at $30ish bucks, I’d rather just grab the sling and say “TAKE.” Still, having designed carabiners before, I lusted after a Revolver in my heart as it is one of the more obscure, cool biners out there, but I didn’t have a good excuse to buy one.  Until now.

Starting with a hot forged body (pricey), it incorperates a variety of different gate styles, although I like the simple screw gate version the best.  It also has a keylock nose, which is nice as it is less likely to snag on slings and harnesses.  But, the coolest part is the jewel-like pulley barrel which is seated right at the rope bearing surface.  What I like about these biners for crevasse travel is that they can be used as a pulley, but also as a regular biner or even a locker.  The tail area is too small for fitting around a harness or beefy belay loop, but they aren’t really intended for that anyway.

Is this one sexy little beast or what?

Is this one sexy little beast or what?

When not in use, I plan on clipping it to the Spectra accessory cord on my titanium spork.
Help support and Z-Drag like a mofo with a DMM Revolver Locking Carabiner from Click on the photo below…


Category: 02 Gear

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (17)

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  1. randosteve says:

    Sup Andrew. For discussion purposes…isn’t the efficiency of the pulley determined by it’s diameter? Meaning…a 3″ pulley will offer more benefit than a 1″ pulley?

    Also, depending on how many bodies are available to assist in the rescue and how many times one might need to reset the system, a prussik-minding pulley could be nice to have.

    I’m all for light is right though.

  2. Andrew says:

    A 3″ pulley would be better, but then again, a 3-ton steel come-along winch would be better yet. The point being that crevasse rescue is going to be a compromise, so yes, a tiny pulley isn’t great, but it is better than nothing and if it is integrated into a locking biner which can be used for other things as well, it is better yet. To me, it is all about making due with less rather than getting crushed with endless product creep. One of my favorite skiing quotes came from Joe Stock who described someone as “looking like an REI employee after their first employee purchase.” I think people take way too much stuff in general.

  3. ptor says:

    I’d say bring an ice screw and bail on the picket. An ice axe is usually around anyways when on glaciers isn’t it?? Skis are the best anchors (t-slot) anyways to my awareness. Don’t forget the backpack or something on the crevasse lip ;-)

  4. ptor says:

    Oh yeah, that DMM beaner looks slick!!

  5. Clyde says:

    Personally, I prefer the titanium Ushba Hauler for glaciers. Compact and light but it’s a superior pulley to the DMM (larger sheave and sealed bearings instead of bushings) and it has the ascender built-in. Alas, it’s out of production so keep an eye on Ebay.

  6. Andrew says:

    I forgot to mention that I also bring a 22cm ice screw as well, but not so much for a hauling anchor, but so I can secure myself if I’m dangling next to a ice wall in a crevasse. As a anchor, you’d have to be skiing on some mighty firm snow to use an ice screw as your main hauling anchor. I also usually carry an axe, but don’t like using it as part of the anchor system because then you are out of an important tool – your ice axe. Skis are the best anchors, but if you have your edges dug in to hold the person in the slot, it could be hard to take them off, and then you need to dig a big old T-slot to create and anchor (especially if you are on twin-tippish skis that can’t be stuffed in tail first).

    I like a pickett as you can hopefully get it off you pack with one hand, get is started by ramming it in the snow, then hopefully pound it in with an axe. (there is a lot of hope involved here… I know) This may not be enough as a main anchor, but it could take some of the weight off so you can at least start constructing a real anchor. I usually chop my picketts down an unrecommended 24″ length and have seen some people make them as small as 18″.

  7. Hacksaw says:

    Cool idea… Makes a lot of sense.

  8. David says:

    Any reason for not using the “pulley” on the anchor? Isn’t the friction more or less equal at all the carabiner/pulley points? Just asking cuz, when I’ve had just one pulley that’s where I’ve used it, not sure why, just seemed like a logical place for it.

    I agree that these are cool biners and they make sense for this application, but the thought of one racked next to some Oz’s is a little funny, since those both occupy different ends of the biner world. Now if they would just make the Revolver with that winch built in that would be the ticket…

  9. Andrew says:

    David – pulley’s on each point of the Z would make more sense, especially with the tiny barrel of the Revolver. I guess I have to test drive my single Revolver and then look for a good excuse to get another in the future. :)

  10. Kevin says:

    Sounds good in theory, but… I’ve heard from a reliable source that actual testing shows the efficiency of revolver biners to be somewhere between trivial and equal to a regular biner. Which makes it a heavy and expensive alternative to a regular locker. Also if anything compromises the pulley mechanism (a piece of grit, or ice) it becomes worthless (or equal to a normal biner).

    I wish I could cite a paper that outlines the actual friction coefficients of a new and dirty sample under load. Nothing beats field testing to confirm what “sounds like a good idea”. Try it out yourself.


  11. Another thought to go along with the DMM carabiner is a Wild Country Ropeman for the ratchet at the anchor and a Ti-bloc for the mechanical advantage where I put the DMM Revolver. Total gear needed is 3 lockers and 3 non-lockers, an ice screw, a cordelette, a single sling and double sling(this assumes you already have an ice axe). You could get by with a fewer carabiners which should not mess with its efficiency.

    The Ropeman replaces the pulley and prusik at the anchor and the need for a bigger ascender. Not cheap, certainly lighter though.

  12. TE says:

    Thanks, Andrew… just bought 2 DMM revolver lockers… my GF was the excuse for getting 2 :-) have been doing some self rescue/hauling practice waiting for snow. nice timing and good †ip!

  13. Lee Lau says:


    That’s really cool. I had used tiblocs (ditched them because they rip the rope & yeah Im sloppy); still use Petzl pulleys (hate the little rattling things) but this looks tits.

    hey matt your system sounds nice and simple too – is it basically the same system as the basic Z one in andrew’s scrawl?

  14. Andrew says:

    Hi Lee – I also use to carry the Tiblocs, but ditched them for the same reason – unlike prussick knots, if you fall on them, they are more likely tol rip your sheath. But, this isn’t to say I don’t like the Tiblocs, Mini Tractions, or any of the other cool stuff – I do, but I think the tried, true and simple prussick set-up for glaciers is still the best, especially if you know how to set it up.

  15. Andrew says:

    Hi Kevin – I’m sure there are better pulleys out there than the Revolver, but then again these pulleys probably don’t work very well as a locking or regular biner.

  16. ffelix says:

    I’ve been using three of these pulley-‘biners in my glacier kit since I first spotted them.

    Tie the end of the rope to the anchor & use the slack through one more ‘biner at a knot tied at the spot where your little guy is huffing away. This adds a 2:1 pig rig for 6:1 advantage, which is probably all the anchors will hold.

    Pretty hard to haul a big partner out with just a 3:1 Z-drag.

  17. Chris says:

    Hi, I have a ti Ushba hauler that i could part with if anyone is looking. Just make me an offer

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