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Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging

Technical Details

Luc Bourguignon sent me this ascender in 2005, but it is much older, possibly from the 1970s.

Cam faceThe ascender is left-handed, as are virtually all chest ascenders that I have seen. The ascender is 126 mm. high, 87 mm. wide, 38 mm. thick, and weighs 174 grams. The ascender shell is subtriangular shape bent from unfinished 4 mm. aluminum sheet. The rope channel is formed by bending the right side of the ascender into a U. The rope channel is 15.2 mm. wide. The main sling attachment point is located below the cam and behind the rope channel. A second attachment point lies above the cam, also behind the rope channel. The shell is bent backwards at both points to provide clearance between the attachment slings and the main rope. This accounts for the rather large thickness of this ascender. The attachment points appear to be circles distorts by the stamping operation. The lower attachment point measures 16 by 14.9 mm. and the upper 17 by 13 mm. A steel insert protects the lower hole from wear. The left end of the shell is bent on an inclined axis to form another U. A hole drilled through both sides of the U accepts a steel rivet. The cam and cam spring are mounted on this rivet, and a steel bushing protects the rear of the aluminum shell from having the rivet pull through. The pivot is centered 55 mm. from the inside of the rope channel.

The cam is a plated skeletonized steel casting. The cam radius, measured from the pivot, increases from 38 to 52 mm. over an angle of 44 degrees. The cam has number of small conical teeth, all of which have their axes approximately parallel to the lower surface of the cam. The tooth pattern is (2.3)(4.3)^5(2.3). A spring-loaded manual safety bar is mounted in the cam channel below the cam pivot. A cutout in the channel and a button on the safety allow one to reach it with thumb or finger. The normal action of the spring holds the safety against the cam channel. Swinging it in and down allows the cam to open fully. A hook on the cam safety can engage either of the two bottom tooth rows to hold the cam open.

The back of the shell is stamped "EMILSA."


The cam safety is both awkward and unique. Opening the ascender one-handed is quite difficult. When the cam hold-open is active, the aggressive hook makes releasing the cam more difficult than on most other designs.

The steel liner on the bottom attachment hole is not necessary, and it does present a sharp edge at one place on the back of the ascender. A tap with a hammer and a touch with a file should fix this.


Emili Sabaté [1936-2006] was a prominent caver from Barcelona. He started making caving equipment in 1952, and initially sold his products directly to caving clubs. His products included helmets, carbide lamps, cable ladders, descenders, and ascenders. In 1961 he started selling some of his products in the Saber mountaineering equipment store in Barcelona.

Sabaté eventually formed EMILSA (derived from his name) to take control of his own sales and distribution. We do not know the exact date that he founded the company, but his trademark registration application was dated May 12, 1972. The application required some minor corrections, and it wasn't approved until March 17, 1977.

[1] José Manuel Sanchis. “Lámparas de Mina Españolas: Carbureros de Emili Sabaté, (EMILSA).” Uploaded to by Jesus Alonzo, August 5, 2021.

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