In my feature yesterday, I covered a range of techniques used to try and control your ropes at the belay, all but one (the rope bucket), using only the equipment you have at hand, primarily the rope itself. But there are a few other options I left out which might be of interest. These are best classed as rope hooks, designed to improve on standard methods, giving you a one-handed option to lap your ropes.
Beal Ringo (50g)
Although discontinued, you often see the Ringo on sale. The design is simple but effective, working a little like that magician's ring trick, with a closed-loop of stiff webbing into which you can magically drop your rope loops. I used one of these on a long multi-day climb due to a team member bringing one along, and it worked as promised.
Metolius Rope Hook (70g)
This Rope hook is far more popular than the Ringo and works like having an extra open hand to drop your rope loops into, the design featuring a stiff insert that allows the hook to hold its shape. The real boon of the design is that it also features a heavy-duty buckle, allowing you to secure the rope, which can be handy if you have to secure the rope for more extended periods.
Petzl Caritool (75g)
Although not designed as a rope hook, the substantial nylon Caritool works really well as a rope hook, being solid, stiff and relatively lightweight.
So are they any good?
Although some climbers seem to like these tools, to me, the Ringo and Rope Hook seem to be more typical of designer orientated problem solving: a solution looking for a problem. I don't know about you, but I find the real-estate on my harness on a multi-pitch climb is always limited, so adding something extra means that something extra has to really earn its place, and I'm not convinced these tools do. Personally, I'd rather carry an additional large HMS locker, such as the DMM Boa (95g), as this has limitless utility, plus it could hold a house, while a Rope Hook only has one. As with any design, the aim should b continually to refine downwards to remove the extraneous and unnecessary. The ideal is the naked climber, so you want to work back from that, adding some rock boots, a chalk bag, perhaps a pair of shorts for dignity. Where on the scale of utility does a rope hook lie?
If you intend to climb a big wall, then I still feel the rope bucket or bag is far more e helpful and also far more practical, as all rope hooks still suffer from the inherent problems of lap coils, were as well stuffed rope bucket guarantees no tangles. Yes, they might be five times heavier, but they're also ten times more effective.
I feel it's best to practice and employ the more up to date techniques I covered in my previous article, such as knotted krab method, as these will serve you much better in the long run, or when the inevitable happens, and you drop - or throw - your fancy pants rope hook down the crag.