Learning how to belay is considered to be one of the top safety things of any rock climbing activity, and since 1991 a device known as GriGri made by Petzl is an essential part of any belay device. In this article, we’ll show you how to use a GriGri and anything else you should know about GriGri belay. You can read our comparison with ATC here.
What Is A GriGri?
GriGri is a device made to catch a fall or to allow a belayer to hold and lower another climber with ease if needed. It has a cam inside that rotates and serves as a brake in the case of a sudden rope movement like in the case of a fall by pinching it when it starts to move quickly through the device.
How To Attach A GriGri
Although it serves as a security blanket, misuse of a GriGri can easily lead to really serious injuries, so here are some of the most important tips about how to properly attach and use a grigri belay.
Before you use it, you’ll have to attach a GriGri. First, make sure you have the right rope diameter for your GriGri device. Open your device and simply follow the instructions engraved on both inside and outside of a GriGri. Once the rope is through the device, close it and you should be good to go.
Now clip a screwgate carabiner to the belay loop, and clip the GriGri device to the carabiner. End the process by fastening the gate.
How To Use A GriGri
Here are some general tips on how to use a GriGri:
GriGri In Primary Belaying Position
This is the most common position out of all, and the way to use it is to always keep your brake hand on the rope all the time. If someone falls, GriGri should hold the weight.
Locking Off With A GriGri
As stated in a previous section, the GriGri will hold most of the fallen climber’s weight. Pull the brake rope down to lock it off and to engage the cam quickly. This will serve as additional security.
Giving A Slack
If you have to give it a bit slack, slowly pull the rope up, through the GriGri. The most important part of this action is to have total control of a brake rope. Also, remember, if you do it too quickly, the cam will engage and lock the device, which can be annoying in some situations, so you can do the following:
Hold your brake rope tight with three fingers as you keep the index finger out.
The index finger should be placed under the lip of the GriGri’s side.
Now place your thumb over the back edge of the handle and push down. This way you should shut the locking mechanism down, so you can move the slack rope using your free hand.
Once you’ve moved enough rope through, move your thumb and get back to the primary belaying position. Remember, this should be done as quickly as possible, to avoid anything going wrong while the locking mechanism is disabled.
Lowering A Climber
If you have to lower a climber, lock the rope using a brake hand, and pull the handle back. Once you feel resistance, stop. Hold the handle, and slowly, as you hold on to the brake rope, lower the climber. Stop by simply letting go of the handle.
When The GriGri Won’t Hold The Weight
In most cases, a GriGri device should be enough to keep the climber from falling. However, in these four situations, it may not be enough and you’ll need the help of a brake rope end:
- If the rope’s diagram is lower than recommended, so there is not enough friction to stop it.
- If the climber is extremely light – this can happen most often to kids or shorter and lighter females.
- If the route has many bulges or rope-drags that will reduce the fall force.
- If a climber hangs on the rope mid-route.
Other GriGri Tips And Advice
- Always hold the brake rope. This is essential because it will allow you to react and lock it off almost instantly.
- Make sure it’s not loaded backward. Carefully follow the instructions and do everything according to them. Once you finish, test it by tugging on the climber’s end. If you feel something’s not right, start from scratch.
- Don’t grab the GriGri.
- If you start to fall, try not to grab the climber’s rope as it may prevent the GriGri from stopping you.
- Make sure it is always clean as dirt and sand can cause significant damage to the device, along with heavy use. If you see sharp edges developing, or the cam doesn’t work easily, it is time to retire your device and purchase the new one.
- Practice in a safe environment before you try it out on the rocks.
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about GriGri belay.
Q: How does a GriGri work?
A GriGri device works by pinching the rope with the help of a cam located inside. When the rope starts to move quickly through the GriGri, the cam becomes engaged, starts to rotate and pinches the rope to the side to stop it from moving any further.
Q: How do you use Petzl GriGri?
The most important part of learning how to use a GriGri is to learn how to hold the brake rope, and how to control the amount and the speed of the rope going through the device to avoid the cam from reacting when not needed. Also, sometimes you may need to give it a bit slack, so just move the rope through the GriGri easily.
Q: How do you set up a GriGri?
Setting a GriGri up is not a problem, because the only thing you’ll have to do is to follow the instructions either printed on the instruction manual, or on the device itself. When you set it up, make sure the rope is big enough and that you’ve turned it in the right direction.
Q: Should I use a GriGri?
Yes, you should use a GriGri as it is one of the most important safety parts of the climbing gear and it will prevent the fall from the rock. While many smaller rocks can be conquered without a GriGri, if you plan to tackle anything more challenging, it is highly recommended to get one.
Q: How long does a GriGri last?
The Petzl’s website says that the lifetime of their plastic parts is 10 years and the metal lasts forever. However, sometimes you may have to buy a new one after only one use, so it mostly depends on the way you’re using it.
Globo Surf Overview
GriGri is a device that can be a real lifesaver, and with this article, you’ll learn how to use a GriGri properly so you can relax and have fun playing games on the rock.