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Self Belay Devices

ock Exotica Silent Partner Wren Industries Silent Partner Soloist Prototype Soloist
Rock Exotica
Silent Partner
Wren Industries
Silent Partner
Soloist Prototype Soloist
 
SoloAid Prototype #1 SoloAid Prototype #2 SoloAid, Version A SoloAid, Version B
SoloAid Prototype #1 SoloAid Prototype #2 SoloAid, Version A SoloAid, Version B

Overview


DO NOT CLIMB SOLO!
Nothing can make solo climbing safe.
 
If you are reading this
then you do not have the necessary expertise.
 
Do not even think about learning
anything about anything
from an internet web site.

Rock Exotica SoloAid, Version A
(Model 302140)
(#627, 2626)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Left Right Open for Rigging
Left Right Open for Rigging

RiggingTechnical Details

I acquired my Rock Exotica SoloAid from John E. Weinel, Inc. in 1994.

The Rock Exotica SoloAid is milled from aluminum alloy and then hard anodized. Mine is 38 mm. long, 113 mm. wide, 34 mm. high, and weighs 182 g. The shell gas a 20.7 mm. carabiner eye and a 10.4 mm. upper eye. The cam has four shallow U-shaped grooves, forming five teeth. The cam axle assembly has the axle itself, a notched locking piece that fits into the carabiner hole, and a cross bar connecting the two.

The front of the SoloAid is engraved with a left-pointing arrow labeled "AN.," an image of the cam, and a left-pointing arrow labeled "Free."

Comments

The SoloAid was made for solo aid climbing as its name implies. I've used it for that purpose with some success. It appears to be fairly reliable in catching falls, and does not have the directional problems that the Soloist does. It does not require a chest harness. although it can be used with one (my preference, but to each his own). The rope must be fed by hand, so it is not a practical device for free climbing.

DO NOT CLIMB SOLO!
Nothing can make solo climbing safe.
 
Instructions Instructions
Instructions Instructions Instructions Instructions

Rock Exotica SoloAid, Version B
(#2627, 2789)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Left Right Open for Rigging
Left Right Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my first Rock Exotica SoloAid, Version B in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun’s collection. I acquired a second from jon-ncal on eBay in 2020.

The Rock Exotica SoloAid is milled from aluminum alloy and then hard anodized. Mine is 38 mm. long, 113 mm. wide, 34 mm. high, and weighs 184 g. The shell gas a 20.7 mm. carabiner eye and a 10.4 mm. upper eye. The cam has four shallow U-shaped grooves, forming five teeth. The cam axle assembly has the axle itself, a notched locking piece that fits into the carabiner hole, and a cross bar connecting the two.

The front of the SoloAid is engraved with a left-pointing arrow labeled "AN.," an image of the cam, and a left-pointing arrow labeled "Free."

Comments

The makings on Version B are much finer than those on Version A. Version B’s lines are about 0.9 mm. wide and flat-bottomed, while Version A’s are 1.7 mm. and round-bottomed.

DO NOT CLIMB SOLO!
Nothing can make solo climbing safe.

Rock Exotica SoloAid, Prototype #1
(#808)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Left Right Open for Rigging
Left Right Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Rock Exotica SoloAid Prototype #1 from John Middendorf in 2005.

Prototype #1 is milled from aluminum alloy and unfinished. Mine is 39 mm. long, 112 mm. wide, 38 mm. high, and weighs 181 g.

There are no markings on this prototype.

Comments

In 2005, John Middendorf placed two SoloAid prototypes up for sale on eBay, and I purchased both of them. John wrote:

This is one of two SoloAids Rock made for me. They were the first two he made and do not have the engraved sketches on the side.

This prototype has a rougher finish than the other, and appears to have been made by manually-operated (not CNC) machinery, so I presume it is the first. The cam teeth differ from the second prototype and production model: they are "steps" that appear to have been cut with an end mill.

DO NOT CLIMB SOLO!
Nothing can make solo climbing safe.

Rock Exotica SoloAid, Prototype #2
(#809)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Left Right Open for Rigging
Left Right Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Rock Exotica SoloAid Prototype #2 from John Middendorf in 2005.

This prototype is 39 mm. long, 113 mm. wide, 38 mm. high, and weighs 184 g. The cam is different than the one on Prototype #1, having four shallow U-shaped grooves that form five teeth.

There are no markings on this prototype.

Comments

The second prototype appears to have been made with CNC machinery, or at least well-finished if done manually. The cam teeth follow the same pattern as on the production model.

DO NOT CLIMB SOLO!
Nothing can make solo climbing safe.

Rock Exotica Soloist
(Model 302020)
(#628, 1621)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Left Right Open for Rigging
Left Right Open for Rigging

Rigging RiggingTechnical Details

I acquired one Rock Exotica Soloist from The Gendarme in 1989, and a second from Charles Denning in 2009.

The Rock Exotica Soloist is has a milled aluminum alloy shell and milled rope-activated aluminum alloy cam. Mine is 63 mm. long, 148 mm. wide, 38 mm. high, and weighs 281 g. The shell gas a 20.6 mm. carabiner eye at the top and a 10.2 mm. lower eye. The cam has a U-shaped face with seven shallow U-shaped grooves, forming eight teeth. The cam axle assembly has the axle itself, a notched locking piece that fits into the carabiner hole, and a cross bar connecting the two.

The front is printed with an image of the cam, an up-pointing arrow labeled "free end," a down-pointing arrow labeled "anchor," an up-pointing arrow labeled "up," "soloist," and "waist."

Comments

The Soloist was designed for free climbing. It must be used with a chest harness as shown in the figure. The rope feeds smoothly enough for free climbing, but the Soloist has one serious drawback: it will not reliably catch a head-first fall. This means that certain moves, such as heel hooks, should not be attempted if there is any chance of the hands blowing. I don't trust myself enough to guarantee that I won't peel headfirst, so I never use my soloist.

The Soloist has a slot that allows it to be used for rappelling.

DO NOT CLIMB SOLO!
Nothing can make solo climbing safe.
 
Instructions Instructions Instructions Instructions Instructions
Instructions Instructions Instructions Instructions Instructions
Instructions Instructions Instructions Instructions  

Rock Exotica Soloist Prototype
(#2742)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Left Right Open for Rigging
Left Right Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Rock Exotica Soloist Prototype from John Middendorf in 2019.

The Rock Exotica Soloist is has a milled aluminum alloy shell and milled rope-activated aluminum alloy cam. Mine is 63 mm. long, 150 mm. wide, 38 mm. high, and weighs 283 g. The shell gas a 20.7 mm. carabiner eye at the top and a 10.6 mm. lower eye. The cam has a U-shaped face with seven shallow U-shaped grooves, forming eight teeth. The cam axle assembly has the axle itself, a notched locking piece that fits into the carabiner hole, and a cross bar connecting the two.

There are no markings on this protptype.

Comments

The prototupe has two countersunk 5.7 mm. holes that are not present on the production version. They do not appear to be functional, so I presume that these were usd for alignment in the original machining jig. There is also a groove on the inside of the rope channel that indicates that a drill or cutter was not alligned properly. The prototype appears to have been CNC-machined, but the alignment holes and the groove may have been made using manual machines.

DO NOT CLIMB SOLO!
Nothing can make solo climbing safe.

Rock Exotica Silent Partner
(#2832)

Front Rear Left Side Right Side
Front Rear Left Side Right Side
 
Front: Open for Rigging Rear: Open for Rigging
Front: Open for Rigging Rear: Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Rock Exotica Silent Partner from Greg Bumb / Santa Cruz Pawn in 2021.

The Rock Exotica Silent Partner is 73 mm. long, 171 mm. wide, 71 mm. high, and weighs 421 g.

The Rock Exotica Silent Partner consists of two stamped aluminum alloy side plates surrounding a roller with an integral centrifugal clutch. The plates are 3 mm. thick and are bent to meet at the top, where each has a 29.7 by 15.3 mm. attachment eye. The roller assembly is 44 mm. long with a 16.4 mm. central rib. The roller is 44.4 mm. in diameter at each side of the rope grooves, 42.mm at the center of the U-shaped grooves, and 59.3 mm. at the central rib. For details of the internal clutch, please refer to U.S. Patent 4,941,548. Each plate supports a 6.4mm pin at the bottom that acts to jeep the rope ends separated.

The front of my Rock Exotica Silent Partner is printed with "SILENT," "13102H0069," a book-with-an-"i" icon, and "PARTNER." The rear is printed with "WARNING," "ROCK CLIMBING IS DANGEROUS AND SOLO CLIMBING OF ANY KIND IS EVEN MORE DANGEROUS. EXPERT KNOWLEDGE OF RIGGING AND BACKUP SYSTEMS IS MANDATORY. THIS DEVICE WILL NOT CATCH EVERY FALL AND MUST BE USED WITH A BACKUP TO PREVENT INJURY AND DEATH," "WARNING," and "FOR DANGEROUS ACTIVITIES - RISK OF INJURY/DEATH CANNOT BE ELIMINATED. DO NOT USE UNLESS YOU HAVE READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS* RECEIVED SUITABLE TRAINING*CHECKED GEAR BEFORE EACH USE* ACCEPTED TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR SAFETY AND GEAR SUITABILITY. ALWAYS USE A BACKUP - NEVER TRUST A LIFE TO A SINGLE TOOL!"

Comments

StarStarStarThis is the device for roped solo. The climber ties a clove hitch around the spool in a specific fashion, and then climbs. The rope feeds smoothly, but if the climber falls, a centrifugal clutch engages and keeps the spool from rotating. I was on a waiting list for two years before I got my Silent Partner, and since testing it I've given up on using anything else.

This device works very well, but one must thoroughly review and know everything in the manual before using it. I mean the entire manual!. Don't forget backup knots!! Remember, one mistake and the life you lose will be your own.

The Silent Partner was developed by Mark Blanchard and was protected by U.S. Patent 4,941,548 in 1989. Rock Exotica made the initial Silent Partners, but production moved to Wren Industries in 1999, where it remained until 2008 when Wren discontinued the Silent Partner and Rock Exotica resumed production. At this time, the Silent Partner is no longer manufactured, but is readily available on eBay for insane amounts of money.

DO NOT CLIMB SOLO!
Nothing can make solo climbing safe.

Wren Industries Silent Partner
(#717)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Side Open for Rigging
Side Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Wren Industries Silent Partner from Mountain Tools in 1999.

My Silent Partner is 73 mm. long, 165 mm. wide, 70 mm. high, and weighs 430 g.

The Wren Industries Silent Partner consists of two stamped aluminum alloy side plates surrounding a roller with an integral centrifugal clutch. The plates are 3.1 mm. thick and are bent to meet at the top, where each has a 29.7 by 15.3 mm. attachment eye. The roller assembly is 44 mm. long with a 16.4 mm. central rib. The roller is 44.4 mm. in diameter at each side of the rope grooves, 42.mm at the center of the U-shaped grooves, and 59.3 mm. at the central rib. For details of the internal clutch, please refer to U.S. Patent 4,941,548. Each plate supports a 6.4mm pin at the bottom that acts to keep the rope ends separated.

My Silent Partner has "SILENT PARTNER" printed on one plate and a warning sticker (each different) attached to each plate.

Comments

RiggingRiggingStarStarStarThis is the device for roped solo. The climber ties a clove hitch around the spool in a specific fashion, and then climbs. The rope feeds smoothly, but if the climber falls, a centrifugal clutch engages and keeps the spool from rotating. I was on a waiting list for two years before I got my Silent Partner, and since testing it I've given up on using anything else.

This device works very well, but one must thoroughly review the manual before using it. I mean the entire manual, not just the few excerpts available below. Don't forget backup knots!! Remember, one mistake and the life you lose will be your own.

The Silent Partner is protected by U.S. Patent 4,941,548.

DO NOT CLIMB SOLO!
Nothing can make solo climbing safe.
Instructions Instructions Instructions
 
Instructions Instructions Instructions

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