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Black Diamond

ATC ver. A ATC ver. C
ATC ver. A ATC ver. C
 
ATC-Guide ver. A ATC-Guide ver. B ATC-Sport
ATC-Guide ver. A ATC-Guide ver. B ATC-Sport
 
ATC-XP ver. A ATC-XP ver. B ATC-XP ver. C
ATC-XP ver. A ATC-XP ver. B ATC-XP ver. C

Overview


Air Traffic Controller, Version A
(#676, 856, 1632, 1794)

Front Rear Top
Front Rear Top
 
Left Right Bottom
Left Right Bottom

Technical Details

I bought my first two ATCs from Ragged Mountain Equipment in 1994, and acquired three more on eBay: one from Robert Southard in 2007, one from Zachary Britner in 2009, and one from Stanley E. Thomas in 2012.

Version A is drop forged from 7075-T6 aluminum and then hard anodized. Mine is 57 mm. long, 48 mm. wide, 99 mm. high, and weighs 55 g. The slots are 31 mm. long and 14 mm. wide. The top of the Omega oval carabiner that I use for comparing belay tubes sits 13 mm. below the ends of the slots. Version A has a plastic- covered cable keeper.

One side of the ATC is stamped with the Black Diamond logo and a rigging icon.

Comments

The Black Diamond Air Traffic Controller, or ATC, is a lightweight, popular belaying device among climbers. Like all similar devices, it can overheat on long rappels, but for belaying with 11 mm rope, it works fine. Rigging is simple: insert a bight of rope and clip it with a suitably anchored carabiner, making sure that the rope is not running over the keeper. Two-rope rigging is similar. On thinner ropes, adding another carabiner helps. My biggest complaint, common to most of these devices, is that it doesn't give me enough friction when rappelling with a heavy load on fast 9 mm. rope.

The ATC has a cable keeper. This is a compromise between a cord that stows easily but tends to get tangled in use, and a rigid rod that stands up to the rope running over it (by accident, of course), but makes the device harder to pack.


Air Traffic Controller, Version B
(#2678)

Front Rear Top
Front Rear Top
 
Left Right Bottom
Left Right Bottom

Technical Details

I acquired my Black Diamond Air Traffic Controller, Version B from Nocogear in2017.

Version B is drop forged from 7075-T6 aluminum and then clear anodized. Mine is 47 mm. long, 56 mm. wide, 99 mm. high, and weighs 50 g. The slots are 32 mm. long and 14 mm. wide. The top of the Omega oval carabiner that I use for comparing belay tubes sits 13 mm. below the ends of the slots. Version B has a plastic- covered cable keeper.

One side of the ATC is marked with the Black Diamond logo and a rigging icon.

Comments

Version B is essentially the same as Version A except it is not color anodized.


Air Traffic Controller, Version C
(#1649)

Front Rear Top
Front Rear Top
 
Left Right Bottom
Left Right Bottom

Technical Details

I acquired ATC Version C from Sheryle Bauer in 2009.

Version C is drop forged from 7075-T6 aluminum and then hard anodized. Mine is 56 mm. long, 47 mm. wide, 98 mm. high, and weighs 60 g. The slots are 31 mm. long and 14 mm. wide. The top of the Omega oval carabiner that I use for comparing belay tubes sits 14  mm. below the ends of the slots. Version B has a plastic- covered cable keeper.

Each side of the ATC is marked with the Black Diamond logo and a rigging icon. One side is also marked with "0702."

Comments

Versions A and C have some small differences in how the cable is attached to the body. The ends of the cable are visible in Version A but not in Version C.


ATC-Guide, Version A
(#835)

Front Rear Top
Front Rear Top
 
Left Right Bottom
Left Right Bottom

Technical Details

I acquired my Black Diamond ATC-Guide from Mountain Gear in 2006.

The Black Diamond ATC-Guide is a notched belay tube. It is forged from aluminum alloy and then soft anodized. Mine is 94 mm. long, 42 mm. wide, 102 mm. high, and weighs 98 g. The slots are 36 mm. long and 14 mm. wide. The top of the Omega oval carabiner that I use for comparing belay tubes sits 12 mm. below the ends of the slots.

The ATC Guide has two slots with ribbed V-grooves at one end, a release hole underneath, and a carabiner eye at the end opposite the grooves. It also has a stiff, plastic-covered cable keeper.

Each side of the ATC guide has a climber figure and a hand-holding-a-rope figure. The end of mine is stamped "6038."

Comments

The ATC-Guide extends the ATC-XP by adding a carabiner hole at the one side and a cord hole beneath the jaws. When belaying a second from above, a guide can clip the ATC-Guide to an anchor sling with a carabiner passed through the carabiner hole, belaying in an autostop mode, much like one might with a Kong Gi-gi. One can release a jammed ATC-Guide by passing a cord through the cord eye and pulling on the cord - possibly by looping it through a carabiner and applying body weight - but don't let go of the braking end of the rope! All in all, I like the ATC-guide.


ATC-Guide, Version B
(#1714)

Front Rear Top
Front Rear Top
 
Left Right Bottom
Left Right Bottom

Technical Details

I acquired my Black Diamond ATC-Guide, Version B from Altrec.com in 2011.

Version B is forged from aluminum alloy and then soft anodized. Mine is 41 mm. long, 94 mm. wide, 98 mm. high, and weighs 91 g. The ATC Guide has two slots with ribbed V-grooves at one end, a release hole underneath, and a carabiner eye at the end opposite the grooves. The slots are 35 mm. long and 15 mm. wide. The top of the Omega oval carabiner that I use for comparing belay tubes sits 23 mm. below the ends of the slots. The plastic covered cable keeper is quite stiff, almost rigid.

Each side of the ATC guide has a climber figure and a hand-holding-a-rope figure. The end of mine is stamped "0334A."

Comments

The cutouts on the side panels and central rib of Version B reduce the weight compared to Version A, but the longer keeper wire has the opposite effect, and the net savings is only 7.6 grams. I prefer Version A because the side panels help radiate heat better, and this more than offsets the advantage of saving the weight of 1½ sheets of paper.


ATC-Sport
(#893)

Front Rear Top
Front Rear Top
 
Left Right Bottom
Left Right Bottom

Technical Details

I acquired my Black Diamond ATC-Sport from Mountain Gear in 2008.

The Black Diamond ATC-Sport is a notched belay tube. It is drop forged from 7075-T6 aluminum. Mine is 57 mm. long, 26 mm. wide, 57 mm. high, and weighs 59 g. The slots are 31 mm. long and 15 mm. wide. The top of the Omega oval carabiner that I use for comparing belay tubes sits 17 mm. below the ends of the slots.

The ATC-Sport has one slot with a ribbed V-groove at one end. It also has a stiff, plastic-covered cable keeper.

one side of the ATC-Sport is marked with a logo, and the other has "7353A" and a rigging diagram.

Comments

The ATC-Sport is designed for single ropes only. Although this saves a tiny amount of weight, it does not compensate for losing the ability to do double-rope rappels. Weight is not normally a factor when belaying "sport climbs," and the Wild Country VC Pro (for example) has two slots while only adding 6 g.

The ATC-sport has thick walls and considerable depth, which helps it stay cooler than it would have been if designed for minimum weight. It has V-slots that provide additional friction for belaying or rappelling. Each side of each groove has three V-shaped slots, giving the grooves "teeth" to grip the rope more effectively. The teeth do not have the narrow angle found on the Salewa Tubus, Singing Rock, or Trango Jaws, so they do not create the same wedging action. For this reason, I find the ATC-Sport to be less effective.

The ATC-Sport is rigged like the ATC, with the V-slots on the brake hand end of the rope. Alternately, the ATC-Sport may be reversed to disable the V-slots.

Although there is nothing "wrong" with the ATC-Sport, it is far too specialized for my taste. I would rather carry a few more grams and have the capability to do double-rope rappels, and I prefer the additional grip provided by the Trango Jaws and its equivalents.


ATC-XP, Version A
(#776)

Front Rear Top
Front Rear Top
 
Left Right Bottom
Left Right Bottom

Technical Details

I acquired my Black Diamond ATC-XP from GearExpress.com in 2003.

The Black Diamond ATC-XP is a notched belay tube. It is drop forged from 7075-T6 aluminum. Mine is 54 mm. long, 45 mm. wide, 109 mm. high, and weighs 87 g. The slots are 31 mm. long and 14 mm. wide. The top of the Omega oval carabiner that I use for comparing belay tubes sits 14 mm. below the ends of the slots.

The ATC-XP has two slots with ribbed V-grooves at one end. It also has a stiff, plastic-covered cable keeper.

Both sides of the ATC-XP have plastic inserts marked with a logo, "BLACK DIAMOND" and "ATC-XP."

Comments

The ATC-XP is an improved version of the ATC. Most important, the ATC-XP has V-slots that provide additional friction for belaying or rappelling. Each side of each groove has three V-shaped slots, giving the grooves "teeth" to grip the rope more effectively. These teeth act to guide the rope deeper into the slot, in much the same manner as the teeth on the Wild Country Hand ascender work. The teeth do not have the narrow angle found on the Trango Jaws or its equivalents, so they do not create the same wedging action. For this reason, I find the ATC-XP to be less effective. On the other hand, the teeth on the ATC-XP provide a larger bearing area for the rope, which helps reduce localized heating.

The ATC-XP is rigged like the ATC, with the V-slots on the brake hand end of the rope. Alternately, the ATC-XP may be reversed to disable the V-slots. The ATC-XP is more massive than the ATC, but it will still overheat on long rappels.

The logo on the side appears to be a thick plastic sticker. It does nothing, and may be removed. Some people tell me that this is there to keep from burning your fingers on a hot ATC - you can easily guess my opinion about that. The ATC-XP has a stiff cable keeper that is heavier than the one on the ATC (4 mm. vs. 3 mm.).


ATC-XP, Version B
(#1683)
(a.k.a. Big Air XP)

Front Rear Top
Front Rear Top
 
Left Right Bottom
Left Right Bottom

Technical Details

I acquired my Black Diamond ATC-XP, Version B from Mountain Gear in 2010.

Version B is a notched belay tube. It is forged from aluminum alloy and unfinished. It has 2 slots with ribbed v grooves and a plastic-covered cable keeper. Mine is 46 mm. long, 54 mm. wide, 112 mm. high, and weighs 95 g. The slots are 31 mm. long and 15 mm. wide. The top of the Omega oval carabiner that I use for comparing belay tubes sits 20 mm. below the ends of the slots.

One side is printed with the Black Diamond logo and the other with two rigging illustrations and "48791."

Comments

Version B eliminates the plastic logo. It is also known as the "Big Air XP."

Version B is essentially identical to the Kailas Kguard.


ATC-XP, Version C
(#1745)

Front Rear Top
Front Rear Top
 
Left Right Bottom
Left Right Bottom

Technical Details

I acquired one Black Diamond ATC-XP, Version C from Bob Wilson/everythingflight and a second one from Unique Outfitters, both in 2012.

The Black Diamond ATC-XP, Version C is a notched belay tube. It is forged from aluminum alloy and soft anodized. Mine is 45 mm. long, 51 mm. wide, 90 mm. high, and weighs 64 g. It has two slots with ribbed v-grooves and a plastic-covered cable keeper. The slots are 31 mm. long and 15 mm. wide. The top of the Omega oval carabiner that I use for comparing belay tubes sits 19 mm. below the ends of the slots.

Each side has a printed climber icon and a hand icon to indicate the correct rigging. One side also has a printed book-with-an-"i" icon partially obscured by an exclamation point inside a triangle. The toothed end is engraved 1326A. The other end has a printed Black Diamond logo.

Comments

Version C has a subtriangular cutout on each side and a smaller cutout on the central rib, making this lighter than Versions A and B.