GriGri PSA/opinion piece/rant


Original Post
T Roper · · DC,VA,NM,UT,CT,MA · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 860

So I've been using a grigri for a really long time, close to 20 years. In those 20 years I have spent very little time in the gym until the last few seasons. Spending time in gyms puts me right next to people with shiny new grigris and shiny new ropes yet they dont get it. I like this tool, it has made many a day go much smoother and with the right belayers it makes the days even better.

BUT...

Please for CHRIST'S SAKE STOP LEAVING YOUR GOD DAMN THUMB IN THE FAST FEED POSITION AND USE IT THE RIGHT WAY! I swear to GOD that almost everyone I see using it these days does not EVER use it right and it surprises the fuck out of me that more people are not getting dropped. I would rather my belayer let go completely with their brake hand(which is wrong but less likely to kill me) over keeping their thumb on the cam 100% of the time.

Use the tool like the manufacturer asks you to which is mostly just like an ATC. I know I live in a n00btastic part of the country where toprope is the thing and almost nobody ever falls and have very little experience falling but really, go to the Petzl website and study the video please. I really dont want more bodies falling right next to me and my family because of ignorance.

This rant was brought on after witnessing the millionth person do this today while his partner(who was big and heavy) was struggling up a climb at the gym(with a shiny new slippery rope). This sport is a game of odds and using the fast feed method 100% of the time is reducing your odds of staying out of accidents so why not stack them in your favor and do it the right way???

flame on.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

natural selection?

rockhard · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 40

Oh i don't know...I think it depends on the exact sport climb and if you can anticipate exactly when someone is clipping. Otherwise you short rope. I think the key is to hold the grigri down in relation to your body so a fall pulls it up away from your thumb in the fast feed position. But if you are actually watching the climber this doesn't matter cause you just hold the brake strand. Only caveat is on hanging belays where you can't hold the grigri down then a fall will cause the rope to slip

r m · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

This post makes me feel a bit better, I was going to pose this as a question.

I went climbing with someone who had recently done a learn-to-lead-indoors course. They defaulted to fast feed with thumb method. Maybe it was that the course was done with fat furry ropes, I don't know.

It seems to happen a lot, maybe even the majority I see indoor with grigris just default to the fast feed method.

Now...On the plus side, I never got short roped - which to my shame - I did to him a few times. It was a new 9.8mm rope and the first time I'd used a grigri in a long long time. I predict it to be entirely feasible to reliably feed out without thumbing the cam with practice.

The way I figure it, its better to commit the lessor sin of short roping for a session as you adapt away from ATC induced muscle memory, than the mortal sin of inhibiting the cam for the rest of your climbing career.

But then...This is all dodging the greater question, which is:

How dangerous is using the fast feed method all the time?
Anyone been dropped like that? Is it dangerous enough to tell someone not to do it?

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 290

I agree, often than not I see people keeping their thumb on the cam all the time when using the Grigri, inside or outside. A couple of years ago I suggested a small modification to the way these people hold the Grigri so they don't need to keep the thumb on the cam all the time, but people assured me that's the way they've always used the Grigri.

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/making-the-pinch-method-belaying-with-a-grigri-safer/110369509

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 290
r m wrote:How dangerous is using the fast feed method all the time? Anyone been dropped like that?
Probably every single time someone said, "I don't know how I dropped you! The Grigri just stopped working!!"
Squeak · · Perth West OZ · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 23
aikibujin wrote: Probably every single time someone said, "I don't know how I dropped you! The Grigri just stopped working!!"
Ask the best female junior (soon to be best female) climber in the world (Ashima) how her dad dropped her whilst using a grigri.
nathanael · · Riverside, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 289

fast feed is the only feed
who's got time to pretend you're using an ATC just so it can randomly lock up at the worst time
just fast feed, take your thumb off when you're not feeding, repeat

Josh · · Golden, CO · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 915

FWIW, the new Trango device (the Vergo) avoids this problem entirely. It is designed so that your intuitive hand position naturally keeps you holding the brake rope and you don't even want to override the cam. It feeds very fast if rope is pulled out to the side (again, sort of the natural thing your hands want to do, given the orientation of the device) and then locks up fast when rope pulls upward (which it naturally does in a fall). I know there are lots of longtime Grigri users who have mastered the art of the fast feed AND can maintain a safe belay, but I think the Vergo is a genuine step up in design for camming belay devices, especially for newer belayers, since there is no special technique to learn beyond the basic belaying hand movements. I have been very happy with mine since day one.

T Roper · · DC,VA,NM,UT,CT,MA · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 860

Its really not hard to pay attention and get away with feeding rope ATC style about 80+% of the time, it makes the tool foolproof when done this way. Most of us use the tool for safety reasons so why make it less safe? Is it just typical lazy human behavior or is it lack of education?

T Roper · · DC,VA,NM,UT,CT,MA · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 860
r m wrote: Anyone been dropped like that? Is it dangerous enough to tell someone not to do it?
they usually blame it on the new slick rope "not locking" is what I've been seeing.

what does it take for someone to hit the ground, one second?
John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,053

I love these threads.....The question is; Do you see this behavior at the crag?

There's a bunch of million page threads on here arguing the benefit of using the "newer, safer technology of the GriGri" as opposed to the "antiquated and unsafe ATC"

Now you're saying people are defeating the safety of the device to make it behave like an ATC?

Foooshhhh! Mind blown........JB

PS, I own two GriGris, and four variations of ATCs

T Roper · · DC,VA,NM,UT,CT,MA · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 860
John Barritt wrote:Now you're saying people are defeating the safety of the device to make it behave like an ATC?
no john, give me some time and I'll translate it to Okie language for you...
rocknice2 · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 3,018
T Roper wrote:..... it makes the tool foolproof when done this way.....
Foolproof just spawns better fools.
anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70

I see a lot of this too, but even worse at my gym where I still see people lead belaying constantly gripping the entire Grigri with their whole hand to keep the brake unlocked. If it's ignorance of proper belay technique with a Grigri, read the manual for your belay device like you should for any piece of climbing gear and watch this video from Petzl:

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

A couple notes to this video... They are not really clear about this. When using the proper fast feed method, if the leader falls while your feeding slack, your brake hand instinct, which hopefully you honed on an ATC, should be to pull away from the fast feed method and pull downwards with both hands firmly gripping the brake strand. Even though they don't show the climbers gripping both hands on the brake strand during falls, you should still do so just like you would with an ATC or any other non-brake assisted belay device. They do mention that if you grip the leader's side of the rope too firmly during a fall you can defeat the locking mechanism and drop the leader. All the more reason to teach yourself to catch falls with both hands on the brake.

If your poor and unsafe belay technique with the Grigri is because you just can't manage the safe and proper way to use it, then buy and use a different brake assisted belay device. This is not as uncommon as it may seem. I know a number of people who choose not to use a Grigri because the fast feed method is awkward and it's too easy to short the leader. I've also seen people that change brake assisted devices because the particular difference in how you belay doesn't seem natural and easy to them with that device. While I've gotten used to using the fast feed method and it doesn't bother me. Not owning a Grigri, I don't use the device often enough to not accidentally short the leader, plus it's only a single rope device. I prefer the Mammut Alpine Smart belay. If for some reason you accidentally do short the leader on this device, just push up and away from your body on the nose and feed them the slack even if the rope is under tension. You can't do that with a Grigri. Keep in mind that every brake assisted belay device requires some changes in technique in how you belay due to how they are designed. I say this because some people are just not ready or willing to change and put the work into practicing a different belay device. Always read the manual of your belay device for the specifics and watch some videos to see how it's done for your device. Then practice with it in a gym before taking it outdoors.

Remember, a belayer with poor belay technique on an ATC or Figure 8 is not going to make the leader or climber any safer by giving them a brake assisted belay device to use. Teach them to belay properly with the device they have.

Nathanael,
Your experience is not uncommon with thicker ropes. If you use thinner ropes, the slow feed method does indeed work fine with the Grigri. I'd guess 9.8 to 9.5 and under to the minimum diameter limit of 8.9mm. If you use ropes at or close to the minimum diameter limit, test using it in a gym environment with a crash pad at low leader heights as there have been some reports here of a 8.9mm rope not catching and locking reliably well with the Grigri in the emergency scenario of the belayer not being able to hold the brake strand. Rgold has mentioned a number of times here on mountainproject that most belay devices seem to work best in the middle ranges of the advertised rope diameter. My experience agrees with this.

Josh,
My issue with the Trango Cinch and likely the Vergo since it is not much different in how it works, is that the device is particularly vulnerable to the brake not locking if there is a hand gripping above the device on the leaders side of the rope during a fall. Apparently more so than the Grigri. There has been plenty of comments/posts here on mountainproject of this problem. In addition to the locking pin wearing without the user noticing and the device not locking reliably or properly anymore. Yes, this is user error through improper belay technique (both hands need to be on the brake strand when catching a fall) and not regularly inspecting the device and knowing what to look for. Much like the Grigri, people need to be educated on how to use these devices properly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QITpvF9SIGs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkOVssfihn0

You'll notice that neither of these two Trango videos mention the importance of catching falls with both hands on the brake strand, or even warn of this issue like Petzl does in their video.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Preach! I've seen way stronger and more experienced climbers than me do this, so it's not just a noob thing.

T Roper · · DC,VA,NM,UT,CT,MA · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 860
Ted Pinson wrote:Preach! I've seen way stronger and more experienced climbers than me do this, so it's not just a noob thing.
bad habits and muscle memory are a terrible combination.

for the lazy, start at 3:00- youtu.be/FHdqjjyeTtg?t=177
anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70
Ted Pinson wrote:Preach! I've seen way stronger and more experienced climbers than me do this, so it's not just a noob thing.
Yes, same here. It is indeed not only a noob thing.
rocknice2 · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 3,018
anotherclimber wrote:When using the proper fast feed method, if the leader falls while your feeding slack, your brake hand instinct, which hopefully you honed on an ATC, should be to pull away from the fast feed method and pull downwards with both hands firmly gripping the brake strand. Even though they don't show the climbers gripping both hands on the brake strand during falls, you should still do so just like you would with an ATC or any other non-brake assisted belay device. They do mention that if you grip the leader's side of the rope too firmly during a fall you can defeat the locking mechanism and drop the leader. All the more reason to teach yourself to catch falls with both hands on the brake.


As long as the belayer is holding the brake side of the rope it will stop the fall. No matter if the clutch the climber's side or not. It doesn't even require that much force on the brake hand to engage the cam.
Same for the Cinch.

Holding down the cam is the only fail.
Have your partner slowly pull rope and hold the brake strand with a mild force. It will engage the cam. I could never not engage it no matter how hard I tried.

DON'T LET GO OF THE BRAKE STRAND!
anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 70
rocknice2 wrote: As long as the belayer is holding the brake side of the rope it will stop the fall. No matter if the clutch the climber's side or not. It doesn't even require that much force on the brake hand to engage the cam. Same for the Cinch. Holding down the cam is the only fail. Have your partner slowly pull rope and hold the brake strand with a mild force. It will engage the cam. I could never not engage it no matter how hard I tried. DON'T LET GO OF THE BRAKE STRAND!
These two accident reports say otherwise:

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/another-accident-due-to-mis-use-of-the-gri-gri/109869225__1

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/grigri-gym-accident-40-to-the-floor/111608177__1

With any belay device you should always have both hands on the brake strand when catching a fall or taking. It's just as important whether for a brake assisted or non-brake assisted device.

Edit - Adding more information. In the first video I posted above, in the context of catching a fall, at about 6:00 it says: "If you grip the climbers side of the rope too tightly, you run the risk of reducing or even negating the Grigri's braking ability.

In the following Petzl link:

https://www.petzl.com/FR/en/Sport/Belaying-with-the-GRIGRI?ActivityName=Rock-climbing

They say: "Another bad belayer reflex is to grip the climber side of the rope.In this case, the belayer burns his hand with the rope and worse, prevents the GRIGRI's cam from rotating, which then cannot brake the rope. Here also, the climber falls to the ground."

For the Cinch, this problem is even worse. And the accident reports of people here seem to prove it. See my post on this thread for more information.
Walter Galli · · Sint Maarten · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 1,956

Grigri is the best device mankind ever discover, just F...Ng USE IT RIGHT ...☹️

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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