by Jullie

September 30, 2021

What Does ATC Stand for Climbing

In the world of sports, one can participate in very many activities, such as rock climbing. If you would want to start learning about rock climbing, you will realize that this is one sport that requires a lot of care and knowledge before engaging in. It is also one of the sports that require very powerful protective gear during the climbing session.

Many climbers focus on immediate protective gear such as; the helmet, carabineers, and climbing ropes while preparing for sports. They tend to forget some, such as ATC devices, which have a beneficial purpose in protecting the climber. 

To clearly understand the use of ATC protective gears, you need to learn in-depth what ATC is. Some of the questions that need to be clarified are what ATC stands for climbing, Air Traffic Controller in rock climbing, and how helpful ATC is during the sports activity.

Meaning of ATC Climbing

What is ATC in Climbing

ATC, abbreviated as “Air Traffic Controller,” is a professionally designed ATC device commonly used in rock sports activities. ATC offers solid and quality protection to the climbers during a sports activity. 

The ATC device is used by climbers, especially when they are going up and down the wall. It’s a tube-like device that is made from diamond, making it extremely fit for the work. 

Before the production of ATC, other belay devices were produced which had the same Kleenex effect as the ATC. In rock climbing activities, ATC has two major roles in the sport. 

One of its roles is to protect belaying and abseiling climbers from potential falls while going up or down the wall. If you need to purchase these rock climbing gears, such as ATC, you need to fully understand different types in the market.

ATC Devices Used in Rock Climbing Sports

ATC has different types, which all serve the same purpose in the sport. This article will help you identify some of the types you might get in the market and their unique benefits. 

It’s always so important to learn all the devices used before attempting the use them. This article will help you identify which ATC device best suits ice rock sport and normal rock-climbing activity.

1) Basic ATC Device

7) PETZL Reverso Climbing Belay Device

In case you want to have your hands on an all-rounder device that doesn’t pinch your budget, consider buying Petzl Reverso. It’s a multi-use belay and rappel device you can use for belaying a second in the Reverso mode.

This device is considered one of the cheapest rock-climbing gear. It is professionally made with aluminum tubes that split the pipe into two, creating two identical orifices attached to a plastic loop on one side. 

It is one of the most used and preferred devices by rock climbers. If you have been to any sport, you would realize that the price of the equipment used would relatively affect some players. 

The urge to have good and efficient equipment in the market helps a lot. With Basic ATC in the market, it’s always easy for anyone starting rock climbing to purchase without making lots of struggles.

2) ATC XP Device

3) Black Diamond Big Air XP Package

Finding a belaying device better than ATC XP is hard. There’s a reason why you can’t find an alternative to ATC XP. It comes as one of the most affordable and the best devices in any country right now.

It is one of the most preferred devices, especially on ice rock climbers. It is different from the rest of the devices since it has an asymmetric tube within its structure made with teethed indentation. These teethed-like structures help to increase rope friction while the climber is in motion. 

Considering that ice rock is somehow slippery, the ropes get soaked with the dripping ice water. ATC-XP’s structural design makes it possible to withstand the effect. 

3) ATC Guides Devices 

4) Black Diamond ATC-Guide Belay/Rappel Device

This is Black Diamond’s most versatile belay/rappel device. The Black Diamond ATC-Guide is 10% lighter and features improved handling in guide mode. With an oval-ized anchor-hole, this device now feeds rope and allows you to pull rope more easily.

After briefly reviewing the two types of ATC devices, here comes another class, the ATC guide device. This device is almost similar to the other two, but what differentiates it from the rest is that it comes with an additional metal loop located on the opposite side of the serrated indentation. 

It’s the best device, especially when a climber belaying from the top and another following just below in a multi-pitch climbing scenario. The benefit of using this device is that it comes with an automatic lock ability that helps a climber not fall.

For the automatic lock to work, you have to attach the ATC guide device to the anchor. An additional metal loop and a carabiner should also be incorporated to make it more strong and efficient. This setup helps create friction on the rope caused by the climber’s weight in case of any fall. 

With this device, anyone thinking of trying rock climbing can get an assurance of safety that in case of an accident, you will be so much protected by the ATC guide device using its automatic lock. So, worry not.

Other Types of Belaying Devices

Having looked at the review of some ATC devices, we need to consider other belaying devices used in rock climbing sports. Each of these types comes with a different model and price depending on the market volatility.

Petzel’s Gri-Gri family is one of the models that you will always find in the market. This belaying device operates on a mechanical-based operation. While utilizing Petzel’s Gri-Gri gadget, the rope and slowing mechanism utilize mechanical ways. Some of these belaying gadgets use the mechanized lock. 

2) PETZL – GRIGRI 2, Belay Device with Assisted Braking

If you carry enough climbing experience and want to pick the best of all belay devices, look no further than Petzl GriGri. It undoubtedly makes your best choice. In my opinion, the product comes with everything you may want in a traditional belaying device. Despite this fact, its higher price might make you cringed.

As the saying goes, “knowledge is power.” Without figuring out how to use these gadgets, it will be difficult to make a fundamental move when one apparatus fails. Any equipment used always depends on the type of rock you are climbing, the climate, or the methods used.

After checking out different types and models of belaying devices, it’s always wise to learn how to use them perfectly to avoid mistakes when in operation.

Ways of Using ATC Devices in Belaying and Abseiling

ATC Device in Climbing

ATC Devices for Belaying

Below are some simple steps on how to use ATC devices for belaying a partner.

1. First, you need to place a rope at the edge and make a bend on the climber. This edge should be attached firmly to the climber.

2. Check on the ATC device you are using because some come up with images and guidelines that show where to insert the bent edge. Carefully check the side that doesn’t have a plastic loop and insert the folded edge in one of the dents in the belay devices. It would be best if you were keen on the correct orientation when inserting it on the dent.

3. After correctly inserting the bend of the rope through the ATC, now you can easily lock the carabiner. When closing, make sure the carabiner grabs both the plastic loop and the rope, then attaché it to the harness’s belaying loop.

4. Before starting the belaying process, make sure the whole setup starts from the rope going towards the climber. 

5. Once you have keenly confirmed that everything is intact, you can safely start the belaying process, observing the belaying techniques needed before making any attempts. As we had clearly said earlier, this is one of the sports that need attention and care before making any attempt. 

ATC Devices for Abseiling (Rappelling)

Below are some simple steps that you need to follow before making any attempt to abseil anyone. 

1. Create a firm setup for the anchor.

2. Using the pinching criteria, use both ends of the rope to create a bend that should appear on each side of the rope.

3. Carefully check the side that doesn’t have a plastic loop on the ATC device and insert the small bend you created.

4. You can carefully insert the bend through the ATC and comfortably lock using the carabiner lock, which should grab both the rope and the plastic loop. After locking, please attach it to the harness’s belaying loop.

5. After making a good and firm setup, you can begin the abseiling process. 

6. Now, you need to pull the lower ropes down and carefully bring yourself down, ensuring that you don’t let go of the rope. Before making any attempt, you first need to learn the abseiling process because any slight mistake might lead to serious injuries.

Pros and Con of Using ATC Devices in Rock Climbing

It’s challenging to get ATC devices in the market, so it’s always good to identify alternatives if you have no ATC device for rock climbing.

ATC Belay Device Gri Gri

ATC Device Advantages

  • ATC devices are the primary devices used in rock climbing. ATC’s use helps one confidently use other devices alternatively rather than the ATC in the same sport.
  • It is the cheapest and commonly used device for belaying and abseiling. Learning how to use it might help if perhaps it’s the only option left for you to undertake, abseiling or belaying.
  • It’s a very flexible device that is easy to use and very adaptable to several functions. 
  • ATC is light making it a good device to carry along.
  • It’s a good quality device that can handle double-roped rappels.

ATC Device Disadvantages

  • It lacks the auto-locking ability. So in case a belayer (read what is a belayer in rock climbing) loses focus or fails to grab the climbing rope, the climber will fall, causing serious injuries.
  • The use of ATC can be tiresome to climbers on some occasions.

Rock climbing can be an interesting sport if you are ready to learn and take the necessary precautions. 

After going through all the reviewed devices used in rock climbing, it’s high time you choose which device will best suit your climbing sports activity. 

It’s always good to engage in physical sports activities, but it’s always good to be cautious despite all that.