Another Accident due to mis-use of the Gri-gri


Paul Merchant · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 10

Jim daughter was 13 not 15

Ewing’s 13-year-old daughter, Maxine, was belaying him when the accident happened. Ewing said his daughter “has belayed me for years with no problems, mostly using Grigris.”

Sometimes the most important decision is not what belay device to use or how it is set up, but should I be climbing at all. If your belayer is to small, doesn't have enough experience, rope type, terrain inhibiting safe belay... etc maybe you should wait for someone else, different route or conditions.

The conditions surounding which we climb is just as important as the condition in which we climb. Making good decisions keep us as safe as the equipment we use.

"Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions."

People are going to screw up. It's important to learn from their mistakes so they don't become ours.

runout · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 30
bearbreeder wrote: No You do NOT need to grasp the climbers strand hard to brake with an ATC You do NOT need to grasp the climbers strand hard to keep upright In fact petzl warns about gripping the climbers strand hard in a fall with the reverso if you want to hold it LIGHTLY thats yr choice, but there is absolutely no reason to grasp it HARD If you cant keep upright catching with an ATC without grasping the climbers strand hard, i suggest going back to the basics and relearning it The braking position with a gri gri (and the smart) is the same as an ATC Feeding the grigri like an ATC is EXACTLY what you should do Petzl recommends the "fast feed" method for the grigri only for quick clips, the rest of the time its the exact feed method as the ATC The problem is that many if not most folks tend to use it on a permanant basis ...
I never said hard death grip. And even a hard death grip I don't think your skin and grip can make that much friction with the rope to make a dent into the falling force of a person. If you can, we would hear a lot more about how someone was saved by his belayer's bare hands or slowing them down enough to prevent death, etc. No, that does not happen.

You can teach a newbie how to belay with a gri and never teach that person ATC and he will belay just fine as long as you tell him to pay attention, understand to hold the brake hand tightly and keep it down towards the hip, etc. You can teach them the motions of an ATC on a Gri, if you want. The petzl instructions do not say "understanding with an ATC is a prerequisite to belaying with the grigri." Feeding is theoretically the same, but in practice they are different when you need to feed slack quickly, which is often. Besides, I can pull hard with the ATC to feed slack, but if I do the same I will lock up the cam, causing me to short rope the climber. So in practice, not the same.

If you want to be safe and take your hand off the rope as soon as you are done, that's fine and it is your choice, but it is by no means a contributing factor to this accident. So please stop telling people that we're doing it all wrong and using this unrelated accident to your advantage.
bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 3,065
Old Sag wrote: I never said hard death grip. And even a hard death grip I don't think your skin and grip can make that much friction with the rope to make a dent into the falling force of a person. If you can, we would hear a lot more about how someone was saved by his belayer's bare hands or slowing them down enough to prevent death, etc. No, that does not happen. You can teach a newbie how to belay with a gri and never teach that person ATC and he will belay just fine as long as you tell him to pay attention, understand to hold the brake hand tightly and keep it down towards the hip, etc. You can teach them the motions of an ATC on a Gri, if you want. The petzl instructions do not say "understanding with an ATC is a prerequisite to belaying with the grigri." Feeding is theoretically the same, but in practice they are different when you need to feed slack quickly, which is often. Besides, I can pull hard with the ATC to feed slack, but if I do the same I will lock up the cam, causing me to short rope the climber. So in practice, not the same. If you want to be safe and take your hand off the rope as soon as you are done, that's fine and it is your choice, but it is by no means a contributing factor to this accident. So please stop telling people that we're doing it all wrong and using this unrelated accident to your advantage.
on gripping the climber side of the rope tightly ... around 5 minutes in ...

"avoid gripping the climbers side of the rope too tightly, as you run the risk of reducing the reversos braking ability"

http://vimeo.com/80477504

on using the grigri just like an ATC as the primary belay method

"this technique is the same for all petzl belay devices, just like when belaying with a tube style device or reverso ... this is the primary belay position"


http://vimeo.com/80481246

please stop telling folks unsafe belay techniques are fine ...

no your DONT grab the climbers side tightly as petzl clearly does not recommend it for the grigri or the ATC

and yes you DO belay primarily with the grigri just like an ATC if you follow peztl

if you are only trying to pull hard with your climbers side hand on an ATC youre doing it wrong ... its a pull AND push just like the showed in the video ... if you belay alot with an ATC you would know this

from the petzl video again ...

"this technique remains the same throughout ALL PETZL BELAY DEVICES"


petzl how to belay with a reverso

"this technique remains the same throughout ALL PETZL BELAY DEVICES"

folks ... just watch the darn petzl videos and follow the instructions ... that and practicing a solid brake hand

and you wont drop anyone

as this conversation shows even experienced MPers cant admit when they are doing something wrong ...
John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 451

I'm hoping that this is my final post on this topic because it seems that after rgold's last post, there's little more to discuss. I think he's spot-on.

Those who cleave to half-truths will continue in their beliefs regardless of mounting evidence and testimonials.

I will, however, voice support for rgold's contention that having the brake-hand above the device is a contributing factor, for this reason:

The differential force, tension, between the two ends of the rope must (via friction, a capricious bitch), overcome the spring-force of the cam for the device to lock. Having the brake-hand down causes a sharp bend in the rope, increasing this tension, and thus further increasing the probability of the cam engaging.

And obviously, having a light, or no, grip on the climber-strand is important too.

At almost 30,000 views, I have achieved what I set out to do: Make more people aware that this can happen, since it's absurd to expect people to change their habits to avoid an unknown pitfall.

I'm confident that many people will change their habits now that they know, and hopefully, that the knowledge will spread by word-of-mouth.

runout · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 30
bearbreeder wrote: on gripping the climber side of the rope tightly ... around 5 minutes in ... "avoid gripping the climbers side of the rope too tightly, as you run the risk of reducing the reversos braking ability" vimeo.com/80477504 on using the grigri just like an ATC as the primary belay method "this technique is the same for all petzl belay devices, just like when belaying with a tube style device or reverso ... this is the primary belay position" vimeo.com/80481246 please stop telling folks unsafe belay techniques are fine ... no your DONT grab the climbers side tightly as petzl clearly does not recommend it for the grigri or the ATC and yes you DO belay primarily with the grigri just like an ATC if you follow peztl if you are only trying to pull hard with your climbers side hand on an ATC youre doing it wrong ... its a pull AND push just like the showed in the video ... if you belay alot with an ATC you would know this from the petzl video again ... "this technique remains the same throughout ALL PETZL BELAY DEVICES" folks ... just watch the darn petzl videos and follow the instructions ... that and practicing a solid brake hand and you wont drop anyone as this conversation shows even experienced MPers cant admit when they are doing something wrong ...
I never said to grip tightly on the climber end. You did. Over and over again. You constructed an easy straw-man and reworded my comments and also ignored most of what I said. I don't think death gripping the climber's end is a good habit, but I don't think it's also a death sentence. It is discouraged because you end up forgetting about the brake hand if you grip too tightly with the other hand, and that causes the accident, not because you have a hand on the climber's end.

My point is:
What evidence do you have to show that having a hand on the climber's rope caused *this* accident?

If you have something against having a hand on the climber's rope then start another thread and do a PSA there.

And no, you don't belay the same with the Gri gri and the ATC. If you do, there is no need to go back and periodically practice with the ATC catching big falls, is there? Again, in theory you do, but in practice I can lock up the gri gri at will and have to adjust for that. You can't do that with the ATC.
bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 3,065
Old Sag wrote: I never said to grip tightly on the climber end. You did. Over and over again. You constructed an easy straw-man and reworded my comments and also ignored most of what I said. I don't think death gripping the climber's end is a good habit, but I don't think it's also a death sentence. It is discouraged because you end up forgetting about the brake hand if you grip too tightly with the other hand, and that causes the accident, not because you have a hand on the climber's end. My point is: What evidence do you have to show that having a hand on the climber's rope caused *this* accident? If you have something against having a hand on the climber's rope then start another thread and do a PSA there. And no, you don't belay the same with the Gri gri and the ATC. If you do, there is no need to go back and periodically practice with the ATC catching big falls, is there? Again, in theory you do, but in practice I can lock up the gri gri at will and have to adjust for that. You can't do that with the ATC.
this ENTIRE thread debating off the OPs description about the belayer gripping the climbers side .. and yet yr attacking me about it????

and yes your PRIMARY belay position with a grigri is the same as an ATC if youre using it correctly as per petzl

if you use the fast feed method then only do so briefly as per petzl, and immediately return to the brake position

if you are using an ATC properly ... you can "lock up at will" .. just use your brake hand, if you cant lock it up stop belaying someone youll drop someone

regardless my suggestion about beginners use an ATC, and old geezers periodically re-use one is to keep the BRAKE HAND IN PRACTICE

regardless of which way you feed this is what matters ....

if you bothered reading you would see this, but then "You constructed an easy straw-man and reworded my comments and also ignored most of what I said. "

ive posted video instructions, accident reports, etc related to the OPs description over and over again in this thread ... and get attacked

thats MP for ya now !!!
Christian · · Casa do Cacete · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 1,485

Straw man and ad hominem argumentation on MP!!!!???

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjbPi00k_ME

runout · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 30
bearbreeder wrote: this ENTIRE thread debating off the OPs description about the belayer gripping the climbers side .. and yet yr attacking me about it????
Yeah but OP's account got revised and updated with other accounts. I thought you would have picked up on that. No burns on the left hand, slick rope, etc. So why are you still harping on something is no longer a factor in this accident?

By the way, I am well aware of the blurb in the petzl video about not holding the climber's rope. But the climbers in their videos do another thing entirely. So it's one of those "do what I say, not what I do?" That's not very responsible of them.

And, even if the belayer had burns on both hands, that just means that she was holding the climbing rope. You don't need to death grip a fast moving rope to get burns. Don't believe me? You can drop a free weight from top rope and you will get rope burns. No need to grip it hard. Just try it if you don't believe me. It doesn't mean it's the cause of the accident, just a RESULT of having an accident. There is a difference.

No hard feelings bearbreeder.
bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 3,065
Old Sag wrote: Yeah but OP's account got revised and updated with other accounts. I thought you would have picked up on that. No burns on the left hand, slick rope, etc. So why are you still harping on something is no longer a factor in this accident? By the way, I am well aware of the blurb in the petzl video about not holding the climber's rope. But the climbers in their videos do another thing entirely. So it's one of those "do what I say, not what I do?" That's not very responsible of them. And, even if the belayer had burns on both hands, that just means that she was holding the climbing rope. You don't need to death grip a fast moving rope to get burns. Don't believe me? You can drop a free weight from top rope and you will get rope burns. No need to grip it hard. Just try it if you don't believe me. It doesn't mean it's the cause of the accident, just a RESULT of having an accident. There is a difference. No hard feelings bearbreeder.
if you read the last few post before your intervention where you came out swinging about the climbers strand

you will notice that i said, and have been saying over and over again that a SOLID BRAKE HAND is something that should be done regardless of whatever feed method you use ... whether you grip the climber side lightly or not

petzl themselves state that a solid brake hand is what will insure the grigri catches (and not blocking the cam or reducing its motion through grabbing the climber side tightly)

THATS what im harping on ... train the brake hand

which is something you tend not to do very well with grigris/smarts/etc, folks get lazy or never learn ... as you usually feel a minimal if any weight on the brake strand, you tend not to develop a FIRM grip

keep in mind that i use a smart for ~80% of my belaying ... however im very aware of the risks that using grigri or smart poses

i got on a grigri this entire week at the crag ... many of my partners use grigris, but they are all competent and proficient in catching with an ATC as well

if you want a good explanation read rgolds post on the last page ... he explains it better than i ever would
Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470
bearbreeder wrote: if you want a good explanation read rgolds post on the last page ... he explains it better than i ever would
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."

http://youtu.be/9cWnubJ9CEw
rob.calm · · Loveland, Colorado · Joined May 2002 · Points: 630

Old Sag wrote:

"I never said hard death grip. And even a hard death grip I don't think your skin and grip can make that much friction with the rope to make a dent into the falling force of a person. If you can, we would hear a lot more about how someone was saved by his belayer's bare hands or slowing them down enough to prevent death, etc. No, that does not happen."

A few months ago, a friend, using an ATC, was lowering a climber kind of fast. A clump developed on the brake side and when it hit his hand knocked it free from the rope. He struggled to get a hand back on the brake side, but he couldnÂ’t, since the rope was wiggling like a snake. In desperation he grabbed the climberÂ’s side and stopped the fall. The palm side of both hands were burnt significantly.

Decades ago there was a well-known event on the Naked Edge. A climber leaned back, thinking she was tied in. She wasnÂ’t. She fell off the ledge, but, shall we say miraculously, managed to grab a hanging line and to stop herself. Really badly damaged both her hands.

So, it does happen. Infrequently, to be sure.

Rob.calm

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

There was a bare-handed save in the Gunks years ago too. A roped-up guy who wasn't tied in fell off a ledge. A climber in another party happened to be next to the zipping pile of rope and managed to grab a strand with one hand. He slowed the guy down enough so that he hit the ground with---I think---only bruises from 80 feet up or so, but the "belayer's" hand was very severely burned (maybe down to the bone, but I'm not sure about that part).

There's also the famous "Welcome to the Gunks" story, which was also a bare-handed catch. It deserves a lengthy telling, one that can, I think, be found on the internet, but the short version is that McCarthy fell off the belay ledge at the top of Never Never Land after calling off belay but before actually anchoring to anything. When McCarthy fell, his belayer (Pete Geiser), spun around and grabbed the rope with both hands. Jim plummetted to the ground but was unhurt. Geiser burned his hands.

Mind you, all this was back in the days of real knicker-clad men who could rip pitons from the rock with their bare hands, professionals on a closed track if you will. Do not try this at home.

Claude Ingersoll · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 0

I learned climbing basics from an old guy named Paul Pedzolt at a little out of the way outfit called NOLS. To me this accident is purely a training issue. The belayer was incompletely or inadequately trained, and perhaps didn't practice enough. As a person that young, it was not her fault. It seems that this was an avoidable accident. I have great hopes for the two injured climbers' recovery - both physical and emotional.

Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,712
Claude Ingersoll wrote:I learned climbing basics from an old guy named Paul Pedzolt at a little out of the way outfit called NOLS.
Thats cool - what year did u take a course/s?
M Sprague · · New England · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 4,799

There is quite a lot of pure conjecture here by people who weren't even there and close witnesses. As a theoretical study to improve belay technique, there is value, but is it really appropriate to make a personal qualification assessment? Remember who it is you are commenting on.

Tan Nguyen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 0
John Byrnes wrote:I just spoke with an eye-witness to this accident... Trust me, you do not want to be on EITHER end of the rope when this happens!
Realistically, no one could sustain a 50 ft rope burn without letting go. Could this be feeding the rope into the GriGri in the wrong direction or the lever got jammed open? Without sufficient facts, everything is conjecture.
M Sprague · · New England · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 4,799

Tan, it has already been established that the Grigri was threaded correctly. The belayer's sister double checked it was set up correctly before the climber headed up, and it was checked again after the accident. It does sound like a potential case of temporary release of pressure on the cam through action on the climbers side of the rope (maybe a quick grab to regain stability) or interference from the anchor, but we can only make educated guesses.

The take-away, I think, is to be more aware of the potential of once released tension to not re-lockup. I for one have never experienced that. I also have trained myself to clamp both hands onto the brake side of the rope if I get launched and use my feet and body position to ward off getting smashed. First thing should be catching the climber, not your own preservation.

SendaGorilla Bishop · · Boulder · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 110

Jesus! Did we really need 17 pages of flaming dribble for this?
There is tons of literature out there (by the manufacturer) on the proper/safe use of these devices!
I suggest doing a little reading? And oh, I don't know...a LOT of practicing?
Just a thought.
Flame on....

M Sprague · · New England · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 4,799
SendaGorilla wrote:Jesus! Did we really need 17 pages of flaming dribble for this? There is tons of literature out there (by the manufacturer) on the proper/safe use of these devices! I suggest doing a little reading? And oh, I don't know...a LOT of practicing? Just a thought. Flame on....
+1111111111111
Mort · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2004 · Points: 20

I've lost track of who said what, who accepts reality, and who is trying to blame, defend, or claim that Petzl is ignorant of this failure mode. Someone posted the 10-minute Petzl video: How to belay the leader with a Grigri: youtube.com/watch?v=FHdqjjy...

At 6:07 they say: "If you grip the climber's side of the rope too tightly, you run the risk of reducing or even negating the Grigri's braking ability." So, Petzl acknowledges this potential failure mode.

I'm not saying that's what happened in this accident. We'll never know what happened. We know it was loaded correctly, we know the rope was very slick and fed through the Grigri very easily, and we know the belayer had lots of experience belaying with a Grigri.

Nor am I criticizing Petzl or Grigris. I will continue to use one - typically many times per week. But I'm a better belayer for understanding this and other failure modes.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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