Edlerid Ohm

The Edlerid Ohm is an "assisted-braking resistor", retailing at around £100, that you install at the first bolt in the belay chain’ basically you clip it on the rope end of your first quickdraw with rope running in an indicated direction. Should the leader fall, this applies some friction at first bolt level, before it gets to the belay device and belayer.

This sums up a time when it could have been fantastic:
Whilst attempting an onsight of the appropriately named Lobotomitique a 40m sport route, holding a small side pull, focused on getting the quickdraw into the final bolt, done; pull the rope to clip, the side pull leaves the crag, I immediately follow. The biggest fall I have taken follows. When I stop I look down to my belayer to say ‘What the f…’ but see them 4m in the air, trapped against the first bolt, their hand still in the paying out position, but now clamped between the belay device and the bolt, blood running down the rope. Lamely I say ‘good catch’. I put my brain back in and finish the route.

So this is what the Edlerid Ohm is designed for, if you are slightly chunkier than your climbing partner, much chunkier this may be the device for you, when either sport climbing or indoor climbing. There are several videos by Edlerid showing it working with various weight differences between the climber and belayer, the most extreme with the climber almost twice the weight of the belayer and the belayer only slightly leaving the ground when the climber takes a lead fall.

The device works exactly as it says, if the belayer is stood almost directly below the first quickdraw, the leader will notice no difference when clipping quickdraws, if the belayer stands a long way out this can introduce some friction when clipping. When the leader either succeeds and lowers, or falls the Ohm is lifted against the first bolt, and applies some friction before the belay device and the belayer, protecting the belayer from the weight of the leader or the impact of their fall.

If you are a chunky climber you will probably be use to quite dynamic falls, your belayer will not have had a choice; so initially when you use an Ohm any fall will feel ‘harder’ but your belayer will be much more in control, and hopefully happier.

More importantly for us I think it is the ways this may be used that is important. Firstly when introducing families to climbing we can look at the possibility of mums leading with sons, or dads leading with their daughters, almost regardless of size difference, as long as the belayer can competently lead belay, an important point about this system is that the belayer does not hold the full weight of the climber, unlike when using a belay bag to increase the weight of the belayer. This may lead to walls hiring out the Ohm to families, and then demonstrating its use. Secondly it can be used when peer bottom roping on the belayers rope from the lowering, in the lowest bolt to introduce some friction, so negating the use of belay bags around the base of the wall.

Other thoughts:
I don’t know why Edlerid have put their name opposite ways up on each side of the Ohm, it means you can not assume the rope comes out of the top of the word ‘Edlerid’ as it depends which way round you are holding it. Secondly, now it would be good if they provided it with one of their new crabs with the Stainless steel insert, as it is always clipped into the first bolt, so takes a lot of abuse. Thirdly, on their website they say tested down to 8.6, yet on the device down to 8.9 ropes.

I think this could be a great device, with many uses beyond the stereotype petite frauline belayer, butch bloke leader.

Ian Fenton, MIC

What Edelrid say:
The EDELRID OHM – the solution for climbers with a weight problem.
The EDELRID Ohm is an innovative, new solution for the problems experienced by climbing partners with a significant difference in weight. That is to say the risk for a heavier lead climber if their partner has difficulty controlling their falls and the risk for a lighter belayer if their partner’s falls pull them off the ground, hurling them against the wall.

The OHM is an assisted-braking resistor that you install at the first bolt in the safety chain. In the event of a fall, the OHM increases rope friction so that a lighter belayer can hold a heavier partner without being suddenly pulled off the ground and thrown against the wall.

The OHM still enables smooth paying out and taking in rope when climbing and belaying and has no negative affect on handling.
The OHM was developed for use at both climbing walls and outdoor sport climbing venues.

Click here for the Edelrid Ohm webpage with video.

Used outdoors, photo ©Paul Smith