THE CT Sparrow, from Italian company Climbing Technology, is a self-braking descender retailing for between £90 and £150 and available from all the major arb equipment suppliers. Our test product was supplied by wholesaler Workware.

It is compact and well made, with instructions that are clear and easy to understand. The device is certified to EN:12841:2006 when used as a rope adjustment/descender device on a type A EN:1891 rope of diameters 10.5–11 mm. When used as a rescue descender on Teufelberger’s Patron Plus rope it is certified to EN:341:2011. It has a workload limit of 150 kg.

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We found the set-up simple and quick and have tried to test it in as many different situations as possible. This has included climbing and aerial rescue courses, two-rope working and aerial rescue refresher workshops, climbing experience days for military leavers and as a lowerable base-tie system for SRT. Candidates who we have asked to try it out on training courses have found it the simplest of this type of device to use.

Forestry Journal:

The device has a sliding side plate that opens with a safety catch addition. This makes it easier to close with a karabiner attached. The rope is then loaded from the top, around the pivoting cam and then the user has the option of running it over only the friction block or under the snapping catch – a useful addition allowing for more control over larger loads.

Descent is controlled in the usual way for these types of devices with a comfortable handle allowing the user to control speed. One difference with the CT Sparrow, compared to some of its competitors, is the panic function. Instead of activating a (slightly annoying) catch which then needs a full reset of the handle position, the CT Sparrow employs the use of its Extraordinary Braking System (EBS), which means restarting a descent after the panic function has been activated is simpler, particularly for new users.

One of the main uses for us has been when training and assessing tree-climbing and aerial rescue courses, used for three-person belay rescues and for hoisting and lowering our weighted training dummy. Inexperienced candidates found it much easier to set up and use than some of the alternatives on the market, where constant resetting of the panic function can be an issue for smooth descent.

Forestry Journal:

We have also found the device to be a useful option for those climbers who wish to employ a 'belay bunny' for two-rope compliance, an option more climbers are now using for initial ascent of larger trees, taking away the need for the climber to tend two systems.

One downside with regards to its use in the arb world is the limited rope diameters that it is compatible with. Being only suitable for use with 10.5–11 mm rope limits the choice of ropes for arborists. As we already use Teufelberger’s Patron Tree Access rope this was not a problem for us, but had we not already had this we would have had to purchase additional rope. In the world of rope access, Patrol Plus is a common rope but as the majority of arb ropes sit in the 11.5–13 mm range, this rules out many of them for use with the CT Sparrow. If CT were to have an equivalent model for larger rope diameters (similar to the Petzl I’D L) this would probably appeal to a wider market.


Another issue with regards to its use in arb is that its intended use appears to be with the ventral attachment of an EN:361 full-body harness. The user instructions make no mention of use with an EN:813 sit harness. However, as all of the uses for us testing the device have so far been for rescue applications (pole top or canopy lowering of a casualty, three-person belay, emergency system for SRT base-tie, etc) this has not been a problem.

Even with the rope diameter limitations we have found the CT Sparrow to be a valuable addition to our equipment which we now wouldn’t be without.