I have always been a protagonist of the minimalist harness. Basically only one waist buckle, no leg loop adjustments, and a slim but comfortable fit. For me that is the ideal situation for fair weather climbing. Straight on and straight off, no fiddling with unnecessary bits and bobs. And indeed, that is just the ticket if you are climbing in good conditions, clad in your favourite pantaloons and flexing your muscles in a revealing tank top.
Since my move to Montagu, I have made it my mission to repeat all the long trad routes on Cogman’s Buttress and also put up some new ones, and over the past 18 months I have done just that. But climbing on Cogman’s 300-metre walls is like doing a country route in your back yard. The routes are long and complex, and you need to start early to even your chances of having that cold beer back on the ground after a long day, rather than fighting your way down in the failing light.
Starting early on the front faces of Cogman’s means you are in deep shade for at least five hours, and quite often we would tackle these routes on a clear winter’s day, which means it is about brass monkey degrees C for as long as you are in the shade. So out comes the fleece and soft shell, and sometimes thicker trousers as well. Now all of a sudden your wonderful slimline harness does not fit as well – your waist belt is tight, your belay loop is not nicely centralised, and your over trousers have made your leg loops uncomfortably snug, which could also inhibit freedom of movement.
This is where Petzl’s Corax fits the bill just perfectly. It comes with double waist buckle adjustments to fine-tune the fitting, so it fits securely and comfortably, and the belay loop can be precisely centralized, with the gear loops just where you want them. And same goes for the leg loops – perfect adjustment to fit whatever trousers or over trousers you may be wearing. And trust me, once on and properly adjusted, you will never know that you are wielding a four-buckle harness. And any re-adjusting, if it warms up and you start stripping, will take less than a minute of your time!
Okay, that said, what about the rest of the harness? The Corax comes with a broad and beautifully padded waist band that hugs the line of your waist, making it super comfortable, and the same goes for the leg loops. But what I really like about the Corax is its reinforced tie-in loops, making them super solid and robust, and the cleverly designed and spacious gear loops. Slightly roomier than the old Corax, the front gear loops are fairly rigid and angled slightly towards the front, keeping your gear racked evenly, and gently nudged towards the front of your thigh, making for easier viewing and selection. The back loops are of a very substantial size, making them ideal for racking seldom used or specialized pieces of gear, belay devices, walk-off shoes, wind breaker, etc., without it feeling crammed.
After using the Corax across multiple disciplines, from sport climbing to country trad (often climbing with a small backpack), and even on bolting missions, I’m really impressed with this harness, and it is clear that one of the strong points of the Corax is its super versatility.
While I wouldn’t choose it for red-point projects, the Corax is a comfortable, easily adjustable, multi-functional harness which suits all other disciplines. And at a friendly price, definitely a top contender when you are out shopping for your next harness.
• Two easily adjustable double-back buckles centre the harness
• Two front gear loops are rigid for easy clipping and unclipping of quickdraws and gear
• Two rear gear loops are flexible and angled to bring gear to the front and comfortable when carrying a backpack
• Rear accessory loop for shoes, trail line, or other gear
• Compatible with CARITOOL EVO for transporting ice screws
• Frame Technology design allows the weight to be distributed between the waist belt and the leg loops
• Interior contact areas are lined with soft material
• Comes in 3 colours: grey, turquoise and blue
• Comes in 2 sizes: 1 (S to M), 2 (M to L)
Weight: 470 g – 520 g
Avaiable at www.eigerequipment.co.za