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Rock Empire
(#1587, 2194)

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

I acquired my Rock Empire from Climbing Terekpl in 2012. I acquired another pair in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

The Rock Empire is 193 mm. tall, 87 mm. wide, 28 mm. thick, and weighs 212 g.

The shell is a tall irregular shaped stamping made from 4.1 mm. aluminum alloy sheet metal. A 14 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 5.5 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 15.2 mm. sling attachment hole is punched below the handle opening, and an 12.0 by 9.9 mm. hole is punched below and outside the first. A 16.1 by 19.1 mm. oval hole punched through both sides of the rope channel provides an attachment point just above the cam. There is a punched cam stop that contacts the top of the cam. A stamped reinforcing rip extends from the bottom of the shell, up the front strap, behind the cam, and partly down the back strap.

The cam is a plated skeletonized steel casting. The cam radius increases from 39 to 59 mm. over an angle of 43°, giving a 28° 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.

A spring-loaded manual safety bar is riveted to the cam. The safety has a plastic thumb tab molded over it. The normal action of the safety 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 "ROPE," two up-pointing arrows with "Ø8-12mm" between, "CE", "1019," a book-with-an-"i" icon, and "N06/10." Each side of the handgrip has the Rock Empire logo molded into it.

Comments

From a broad perspective, the following ascenders are closely related, with a number of differences (sometimes significant) as indicated:

Image Ascender Frame Shape Frame
Reinforcement?
Cam Stop Cam Cam
Safety
Brasovia Brasovia "Fixe" No No Asymmetrical Aluminum /w Tab
Climb Tech Climb Tech "Fixe" No No Asymmetrical Aluminum /w Tab
Climb X X Ascender Climb X X Ascender "Fixe" No No Symmetrical Aluminum /w Tab
Fixe Capitan Fixe Capitan "Fixe" No Yes Asymmetrical Aluminum /w Tab
Good Makings GM Climbing "Fixe" No No Symmetrical Plastic-covered Aluminum
Good Makings Good Makings "Fixe" No No Symmetrical Aluminum /w Tab
GrandWall GrandWall "Fixe" No No Symmetrical Aluminum /w Tab
Grivel A&D, Version A Grivel A&D, Version A "Grivel A&D" No No Asymmetrical Aluminum /w Tab
Grivel A&D, Version B Grivel A&D, Version B "Grivel A&D" No No Asymmetrical Aluminum /w Ring
Grivel A1 Grivel A1 "Grivel A1" No No Asymmetrical Aluminum /w Ring
NTR NTR, Version A "Fixe" No No Symmetrical Aluminum /w Tab
Rock Empire Rock Empire "Rock Empire" Yes Yes Symmetrical Plastic-covered Aluminum
Vento Ascension Vento Ascension "Fixe" No No Symmetrical Aluminum /w Tab
Yoke 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 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, but not to the extreme as for the Fixe Capitan. This is not a significant issue.