Inspecting Your Petzl I’D Descender

If you’ve used the PETZL I’D Descender, you know why it’s so well loved by rope access technicians, rescue professionals, tower climbers, and many others. The I’D provides efficient and smooth control when descending. The anti-panic handle and anti-error cam make the I’D very intuitive to use safely.

But one thing that isn’t immediately intuitive about the I’D is how to inspect it.

Our Trainers and Equipment Advisors often hear people say that after some years of use their well-loved I’D is slipping when locked. Not much, 10 mm or so, but enough to notice—and be concerned. Even minor slippage could leave a climber in bad shape during a rescue.

A Well Worn Groove

More often than not the slippage is caused by wear to the groove in the cam. Over time the rope running through the cam wears down the metal, slowly widening the gap for locking off the device. But since the change is so slow it’s very difficult to notice.

To make it easier to inspect the cam, PETZL has included a wear indicator. But, the indicator isn’t easy to find and it can be difficult to understand the inspection criteria.

Tucked away in the the technical manual is an infographic designed to explain the wear indicator. Not surprisingly many people don’t notice or understand this warning—even people with extensive fall protection training. If you have an I’D you’ve likely never checked the wear indicator to see if you should take your descender out of service.

Finding the Wear Indicator

With the plate open and the handle in the open, belaying position, look down the short groove of the cam. On the outside ridge there will be a small nib, about 1 mm tall and 1 cm long. This is the wear indicator.

Looking straight at the nib of a brand new I’D (above on the left) you should be able to see the face of the nib with about 1 mm of space in front of it. With use the groove in the cam will wear (above on the right). When the groove becomes worn all the way to the wear indicator it’s time to discontinue use.

Continued use will lead to rope slipping through the lock. We’ve even seen cams with the edge so worn it was sharp. This is an obvious risk when working with rope.

If you haven’t inspected your I’Ds for awhile, now is a good time to pull them out and check the wear indicators. If you find one that is clearly worn to the indicator, remove it from service and get a new one.

If you have questions or concerns, call your Equipment Advisor at 1.800.755.8455. In most cases we can ship you a new I’D Next Day.

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