clmatherswrote a review of Petzl Pirana Descender on May 5, 2008
I love this thing. Its a fairly crazy looking device so it gets some stares from folks who don't know about it. The multiple friction points are a great feature though they don't really matter much for a normal rap. If your canyoneering you'll need them to help slow you and a pack down though. It's a bit more difficult to do the cross over to lock it in than on my Super 8 but not noticeably. It's easy to set up wrong sometimes though. What I mean is that if you use the friction points, you use the lower point first and it's easy to use the top first which gives you less friction. The if you get the William biner with it, know that the fit is very tight. It's hard to get he device on and off the biner so I recommend an 11mm biner or a round biner instead. The William, while an excellent keyed screw gate (also very huge), has an oval cross section. I would just take the device to your local shop to find one that fits best. I say that, because you want to be able to flip the device to the side and down to get it out of your way if your canyoneering. An oval shape just doesn't let you do this. I use a steel biner that's round and it works like a charm. As a belay device it's fairly straight forward. Set it up just like you would to rap and pull down to lock it off. You can use the bottom friction points to add friction to the belay which is nice. I like it a bit more frictiony when I lead belay. The friction is nice for when you are lowering someone after they finish a sport climb too. A bit safer feeling than lowering on an tube style device. It will freak out your friends though. Getting belayed on such a funny looking device is weird. Setting up a releasable or contingency anchor to rap off of will require some thought before you head out to the canyons though. It will be better for your ropes to use a Piranha for a contingency anchor than a munter while giving great fiction in case you need to lower someone. As with all new gear practice practice practice. All that being said. I love this thing. I had seen this in the Petzl catalog and wondered about it and finally got to play with a friend's. I was hooked. I had one a week later. Its the best thing thats happened to the 8 since rescue ears. The set up doesn't allow for a larks head to form, gives lots of options for extra friction and can be used to belay as a great bonus.