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Petzl Ascension Ascender Review

   
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Ascenders

  • Currently 5.0/5
Overall avg rating 5.0 of 5 based on 5 reviews. Most recent review: July 1, 2011
Street Price:   Varies from $58 - $80 | Compare prices at 8 resellers
Pros:  Light, slides up the rope easily, easy to get on and off
Cons:  Can't put locking gate through clip-in point
Best Uses:  Big wall climbing, mountaineering, aid climbing
User Rating:     
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 (5.0 of 5) based on 4 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (4/4) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Petzl
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ February 21, 2010  
Overview
This Ascension Ascender from Petzl is lightweight, slides up the rope easily, and works on icy ropes. This is a redesign of the popular blue and yellow ascender Petzl has sold for years. Those ascenders were our favorites and the new versions are very similar to the Petzl climbing old ones.

Although we are not sure the new design is a big improvement over the old, the Petzl Ascension remains our top pick for ascenders and is an essential piece of big wall climbing gear. It slides up the rope easily, is easy to get on and off the rope and is light.

View our complete Ascender Review to see how this product compared to others.

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  • Photos
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
This ascender excels in the most important category: sliding smoothly up the climbing rope. Once you get the hang of it, the ascender rarely catches before you get to full extension on the top ascender. Ease of getting on and off the rope when passing pieces is good. Its aggressive teeth work well on icy ropes. Another great thing about this ascender is how light it is; it is one of the lightest out there. One other thing we liked is how it can be used for self-belaying in the same way a Petzl Mini Traxion. The Mini Traxion is better, but if you find yourself in a pinch or just don't want to buy another piece of gear, this ascender will get the job done.

Dislikes
The grip on the new Petzl is not as comfortable as the old Petzl design or the nForce. The little rubber part that sticks out irritated the bottom of our index fingers a little. It was not bad, and wearing a glove pretty much eliminated the issue. But it was noticable when bare-handed.

After getting used to the big 360-degree clip-in hole on the Black Diamond nForce, Chris Mac now really wishes the Petzl had it. Instead, the Petzl has an extra small hole for a quick link. This might be good for caving applications, but Chris has never used it on a big wall nor has he seen anyone else us it. He thinks Petzl should dedicate that real estate at the bottom of the ascender to a bigger clip-in hole. Also, when down jugging, it takes a lot of practice to keep the Petzl from locking up. It is not a big big deal because down jugging is not nearly as common as jugging up. But after using the nForce ascender, it is noticable how much more skilled and practiced you need to be to make the Petzl down jug fast. But that is a small point. The Petzl does the crucial stuff well.

Value
The Ascension is the same price as the Black Diamond and less than other ascenders out there. We have not seen a pair of ascenders for less than $70 that we would recommend and have seen some a lot more expensive.

Best Application
This excels on big walls and for ascending icy ropes in the mountains.

Comparing the Old Ascension to the New Model
First off, a little history: Petzl used to have a yellow and blue ascender with a hard molded grip for your fingers and a less comfortable opening and closing trigger. Then, maybe a decade ago, they upgraded to a softer grip that was more comfortable and an opening and closing trigger that was easier to use. Petzl also seems to have made it lighter. It was a BIG improvement. The changes with this latest revision are small in comparison.

Let's run down the changes in this new ascender.

Revisions to the New Petzl Ascender (from Petzl.com)
Petzl says - The grip is wider at the bottom, providing better comfort for your hand during use.
Our Observation - The wider grip might help if you have monster hands or while wearing gloves, but the bottom of the hand rarely touches the bottom of the ascender (see photo). The bigger change is that there is now a big groove running vertically down the grip. This might make it easier to grip if it is icy, but we don't find this a big advantage on big walls. The groove actually irritated our hands a little and we prefer the grip of the old Ascension (but not by much).

Petzl says - The index finger indent has also been increased, offering greater efficiency when pulling on the ascender.
Our Observation - At first this change seemed cool but then it got annoying. The more we used the ascender the more it seemed that the new indent irritated our index finger. Not a big deal, but at this point we think it was a step backward.

Petzl says - The trigger to open/close the cam is now recessed inside the frame to avoid accidentally opening the cam while in use.
Our Observation - You have to look really close to notice this change. We didn't notice until we put them side by side and stared hard. But apparently some people said the old design was dangerous as mentioned on this web page Petzl has a notice on their web site that I think is a response to that issue.

Petzl says - The cam has been redesigned to minimize friction when sliding the ascender along the rope while the angled teeth provide secure grip in the worst conditions (wet, icy, or on muddy ropes).
Our Observation - Again, you really have to look close to notice this one. As far as we can tell the only difference is that there are two fewer mini teeth. And we didn't notice any reduction of friction. The new Ascension slid up the rope just as well as the old one in head-to-head tests.

The Bottom Line about the changes
If you have the old blue and yellow model, there is no need to upgrade unless you are worried about that potential safety issue (and I don't know the validity of the design flaw claim). We expected the new grips to change the ascender. Maybe they make a difference in snow and ice (We have not tested them in snow yet) but for big walls the grip didn't change things much. If anything, we found the vertical slit running down the grip slightly uncomfortable. Overall, the ascender is more or less like the last one; not much improved but no big steps backward, either.

Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: July 1, 2011
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (5.0)

100% of 4 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
5 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (5)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Jun 17, 2011 - 01:27pm
spsmc · Climber · Swall Meadows,CA
Have accumulate a variety of ascender over the years; the old blue/gold Petzl ones, Clogs, yellow jumars, and first generation jumars (hanging on the wall and not in use thank god).
Love the new Petzls and other reviews have pretty much said it all. Bottom holes could be bigger but an Attached biner fits snuggly in there. Easy to use and slide readily. Easy to get back on when traversing or lowering out past gear.
Super lightweight and comfortable on the hands.
As usual Petzl craftsmanship shows and they are well finished and solid.

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Credit: spsmc


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Apr 12, 2010 - 07:34pm
Cpt0bvi0u5 · Climber · Merced CA
Petzl has kept the formula pretty much the same with these ascenders but if its not broke don't fix it. These are simple and not over-designed like the N-Force jugs. As for the product itself it keeps it simple and they get you up ropes. It is easy to take them on and off and can also be used for hauling. I have not had any issues with this slipping on ropes though I have not tested them on iced up or wet ropes. One complaint is that there are two holes to clip into on the jug and I wish they made them bigger so you could rotate a locker all the way through on the big one and just be able to place a locker in the small one. But overall its a solid buy for anyone who is going to do wall climbing and they won't let you down.
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Using the Petzl Ascenders to clean on West Face of the Leaning Tower
Credit: Cpt0bvi0u5


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Nov 27, 2009 - 03:23pm
Ian Nicholson · Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab
I have used the Petzl Ascension Ascender form cleaning funky traverse jugging on El Cap to frozen fixed lines of Denali. Some people say the new BD Nforce is better at icy ropes. I have jugged a few frozen cables that where passed off as our ropes while in the Kichatnas and never had a problem. I Have had the same pair for 8 or 9 years now with more days on them than I can remember. I even took a 8 foot static fall (Scary!!!) onto a single Petzl Ascender with no damage to the rope I was using plus it held!!!
Possibly because they are what I am used to but I feel they are the easiest ascender to manipulate with one hand, even while wearing thick warm (Denali warm) gloves.
All and All my favorite ascender out there.
Click to enlarge
Ian Nicholson Cleaning Pitch 4 of the North American Wall
Credit: Big Ian


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jul 1, 2011 - 02:28pm
Rick Picar · Climber · San Jose CA
I have been climbing walls in yosemite for numerous years. Early in my big wall days, I used the yellow jumars. It wasn't all that comfortable for the hands and the trigger bar to release it wasn't easy to use with your thumb. I then bought the Clogs-Wales. It had a great handle but lacked an attachment hole at the bottom of the ascender. I needed to tape webbing loops to attach it to my daisy chain, and it was really heavy. I finally bought the gold and blue petzl ascender. They were light, smooth, had a great handle and a hole at the bottom to attach yourself to it. The newer model (petzl asension)were even better. It had all the functionality I needed and the upgraded handle decreased any strain on my hands. By far, these ascenders, in my opinion, are the best ones in the market.They run smooth, easy to put on and take off the rope, and comfy for the hands. Petzl continues to be a leadoer in innovation and simplicity. This has become a staple piece for all of my big wall adventures.
Climb hard, Climb fast, and always be safe.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Petzl Ascension ascender
Credit: Petzl.com
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