|Front View: Closed||Rear View: Closed|
|Front View: Open||Rear View: Open|
I acquired my Fixe Capitan from Au Vieux Campeur in 2008.
The Fixe Capitan is 202 mm. tall, 93 mm. wide, 25 mm. thick, and weighs 238 g.
The shell is a tall irregular shaped stamping made from 3.8 mm. aluminum alloy sheet metal. A 16 mm. wide rope channel is formed in the upper portion of one side and a smaller cam channel lies opposite the first. A hole drilled through both sides of the cam channel accepts a 5 mm. rivet. The cam and cam spring are mounted on this rivet. The handle below the cam has a soft "rubbery" hand grip molded into place. The hand grip has a slight break to support the index finger. A 16.1 mm. sling attachment hole is punched below the handle opening, and a 10.1 mm. hole is punched below and outside the first. A 13.6 by 19.8 mm. oval hole punched through both sides of the rope channel provides an attachment point just above the cam, and a 15.8 mm. hole beside it provides a second attachment point. There is a punched cam stop that contacts the top of the cam.
The cam is a plated skeletonized steel casting. The cam radius increases from 37 to 57 mm. over an angle of 43°, giving a 30° cam angle. The cam has number of small conical teeth. The upper teeth are parallel to the top of the cam, but the lower teeth have their axes sloping downward. The tooth pattern is (3)^3(1S1)^5(3)^2 where the S stands for a single slot. The back of the cam face slopes, but the cams on the two ascenders are identical, not mirror images, so the thicker part of the cam face is on the frame side of the left ascender and the open side of the right ascender.
A spring-loaded manual safety bar is riveted to the cam. The normal action of the spring holds the safety against the cam. When the cam is opened, the shell interferes with the safety bar, thus preventing opening the cam. If the safety bar is moved away from the cam (opposing the spring), it will clear the shell and the cam will open. At full open the safety can be released and the spring will hold the safety against the back of the shell. This provides a means of locking the cam open.
The front of ascenders are screened with an up-pointing arrow above the word "UP," the Fixe salamander logo, "FOR ROPE:Ø8-12MM," "CE 0082," and a book-with-an-"i" icon on the left-hand page.
From a broad perspective, the following ascenders are closely related, with a number of differences (sometimes significant) as indicated:
|Brasovia||"Fixe"||No||No||Asymmetrical||Aluminum /w Tab|
|Climb Tech||"Fixe"||No||No||Asymmetrical||Aluminum /w Tab|
|Climb X X Ascender||"Fixe"||No||No||Symmetrical||Aluminum /w Tab|
|Fixe Capitan||"Fixe"||No||Yes||Asymmetrical||Aluminum /w Tab|
|GM Climbing||"Fixe"||No||No||Symmetrical||Plastic-covered Aluminum|
|Good Makings||"Fixe"||No||No||Symmetrical||Aluminum /w Tab|
|GrandWall||"Fixe"||No||No||Symmetrical||Aluminum /w Tab|
|Grivel A&D, Version A||"Grivel A&D"||No||No||Asymmetrical||Aluminum /w Tab|
|Grivel A&D, Version B||"Grivel A&D"||No||No||Asymmetrical||Aluminum /w Ring|
|Grivel A1||"Grivel A1"||No||No||Asymmetrical||Aluminum /w Ring|
|NTR, Version A||"Fixe"||No||No||Symmetrical||Aluminum /w Tab|
|Rock Empire||"Rock Empire"||Yes||Yes||Symmetrical||Plastic-covered Aluminum|
|Vento Ascension||"Fixe"||No||No||Symmetrical||Aluminum /w Tab|
|Yoke||"Fixe"||No||No||Asymmetrical||Aluminum /w Tab|
These are all well-made ascenders and perform much like the Petzl Ascension. All sharp edges have been removed. The attachment points are simple holes in the shell. In some cases, the user may wish to round the lower attachment holes with a Swiss file; even so, I would consider their small radius too sharp for directly attaching sling ropes. They are probably acceptably rounded for webbing (or could be made so with a file), but considering the proximity of the attachment points to the main rope, I would recommend using a small maillon for most attachments in order to reduce the risk of sling abrasion. The lower attachment hole could theoretically have the same safety problems as the one on Clog Version A. I'm not sure the extra holes are needed at the base - except for the Petzl Pompe, I've never found a real need for a second hole, especially ones that are too small for a normal carabiner, but some people like them.
The doubled upper rope attachment hole is located very close to the main rope. A carabiner through the upper oval attachment hole will probably drag on the main line. The main purpose for this hole is when using the ascender as a safety on a fixed line. The axis of the oval hole is canted so that when trailing the ascender upward, the ascender pulls free of the rope, but it drags a bit if the used falls. I consider this practice dangerous and cannot recommend it. The single upper rope attachment hole, when used in conjunction with the frame side of the double hole, facilitates using the ascender as a chest ascender as shown in the Fixe Capitan instructions.
This ascender has the same pit lip disadvantage as the Clog and other stamped frame ascenders, and there is no stamped reinforcing help prevent bending.
The rubber handle is comfortable enough for my large hands, but I don't climb by gripping ascenders at their handle. I think it is better to simply grasp the ascender from above and lift the ascender in the traditional manner (unless, of course, you are one of those people who climbs Frog).
The cam is very well made.
The cam stop is placed in a position where it will actually touch the cam if the ascender is off rope. Many manufacturers put cam stops in odd places where they can never touch the cam. I don't see much need for cam stops, most active cavers don't weight enough to bend their ascenders to failure by cam pull-through, and there is no need to shock load one's ascenders.
The safety is reasonably easy to use with one hand, but the cam drags on the shell, and since both have a frosted finish, it gives the ascender a gritty feel. This is not a significant issue.