Gri-gri question for Jim Titt/Rich Gold other schmartie guys


Original Post
King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 200

Hey Jim et al,

Question about the use of a gri-gri for belaying the leader: If one is belaying off of your belay loop and the rope is clipped through the anchor you are on to the leader when the leader falls above you the belayer is going to be pulled upwards. Potentially the belayer and gri-gri are snapped upwards and in trying to squeeze the device through the biner you've clipped the rope throught potentially the cam is defeated is what I have always been told/believed....resulting in a drop of some distance and putting your brake hand on the spot.

Has this been documented by actual testing (didn't see anything on the Petzl site or elsewhere)??

Is the device utterly defeated without a brake hand or is it a short drop and then caught?

Obviously, part of Petzl's instructions for use include always using a brake hand etc, my question is if there is actual documentation of the gri-gri being defeated (sans break hand) and what the actual consequences are (does the device recover after the initial load or does the leader fall to the end of the rope)?

Entirely an academic discussion, don't recommend anyone try this at home etc.

Thanks for all replies.

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 0
King Tut wrote:

Hey Jim et al,

Question about the use of a gri-gri for belaying the leader: If one is belaying off of your belay loop and the rope is clipped through the anchor you are on to the leader when the leader falls above you the belayer is going to be pulled upwards. Potentially the belayer and gri-gri are snapped upwards and in trying to squeeze the device through the biner you've clipped the rope throught potentially the cam is defeated is what I have always been told/believed....resulting in a drop of some distance and putting your brake hand on the spot.

Has this been documented by actual testing (didn't see anything on the Petzl site or elsewhere)??

Is the device utterly defeated without a brake hand or is it a short drop and then caught?

Obviously, part of Petzl's instructions for use include always using a brake hand etc, my question is if there is actual documentation of the gri-gri being defeated (sans break hand) and what the actual consequences are (does the device recover after the initial load or does the leader fall to the end of the rope)?

Entirely an academic discussion, don't recommend anyone try this at home etc.

Thanks for all replies.

When the GriGri is slammed up into the karabiner there is by definition the entire weight of the belayer still holding it locked.

Erroneous Publicus · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 0

How would you deal with that potential while using an ATC?  There's your answer.

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 200
Jim Titt wrote:

When the GriGri is slammed up into the karabiner there is by definition the entire weight of the belayer still holding it locked.

TYVM for that Jim.

So while the initial large force may  be overcome by jamming against the carabiner is braking (eventually) restored?

Keenan Waeschle · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 165

I've had belayers hit the first draw really hard, the gri has ended up jammed, so I have to boink in order to allow the handle to lower. Never has it locked open or let rope through.

Use a gri gri, they are practically infallible as long as you don't clamp down on the cam or backload them. If you can trust yourself to not do those two things you will never ever drop someone.

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 200
Keenan Waeschle wrote:

I've had belayers hit the first draw really hard, the gri has ended up jammed, so I have to boink in order to allow the handle to lower. Never has it locked open or let rope through.

Use a gri gri, they are practically infallible as long as you don't clamp down on the cam or backload them. If you can trust yourself to not do those two things you will never ever drop someone.

Thanks for that Keenan. What I am really shooting for is from Jim (or other) is someone that may have put the gri-gri through an actual testing protocol to determine its safety in this situation (jamming against a carabiner) with no braking.

I have used a gri-gri since they were introduced and love them, but am hoping for some clarification about this point.

best

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

First a little story

I once caught a super violent fall with a grigri, it was so violent i was was yanked into the wall and i put my hands up to stop me hitting the wall, after all this was over i realized i had actually let go of the break strand when i did this IDK if it was before or after the fall was arrested (I would assume after) but yeah, the grigri did very well.

I can tell you the UIAA test that the grigri (and all "assisted breaking" devices) passes is it catching (completely un-aided) a FF2 fall, if that's not bomber idk what is.

There is as far as i'm aware only one thing that will cause a grigri to fail and that is if there is either a super light climber or a shit ton of drag in the fall in either case the cam might not engage properly without assistance.

Benjamn P · · Boulder, CO · Joined Aug 2003 · Points: 25

I once had my partner fall leading a sport route and the Gri-Gri flipped around inside the biner so that the belay biner held the Gri-Gri in a non-locking/camming position. Some extra rope went through than what was expected with normal Gri-Gri braking action. My partner fell an addition 5 feet from expected (with rope stretch) as I just caught him with my break hand and not the device crimping/camming the rope. Most of this fall was slack in the system between my brake hand and the device where the device being nearly taught should have caught sooner. The newer belay biners preventing biner rotation, this is obsolete and an EXTREMELY rare occurrence!

Another odd event, more related to your question, happened with this same partner. I took a BIG whipper having missed the bolt I was supposed to clip and off right of the route. The bolt I was supposed to clip was several vertical feet below my feet. Also, my partner and I had a 30-35% weight difference. When I fell he got sucked into the first quickdraw with the Gri-Gri to have him realize that it was held closed by the biner on the draw. His brake hand was what was holding the final catch, but it was hard to quantify how far (or if at all) I fell because of the Gri-Gri being against the biner. He started just lowering the both of us by letting out slack with his belay hand till the Gri-Gri came free and then cammed properly. Goes to show anchoring or having a closer weighted belay partner is a good solution (or Edelrid Ohm)!

Needless to say he and I both were a bit skeptical of the Gri-Gri in future use, definitely can't be 100% trusted! ALWAYS have your brake hand on and ready with the Gri-Gri or other devices! NO EXCUSE! From all my giving or receiving belays...personally I guess 1 out of 25,000 belays/lowerings occur in such an oddity as what I experienced above! .

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

Another academic question:

Does force applied to the brake strand engage the cam mechanism on it's own. I have heard people state that the brake hand engages the cam regardless of whatever is else is happening in the system. I have also heard people state that if they're isn't enough weight (rope drag, light climber, death grip) on the climber's strand the cam won't engage regardless of whether force is applied to the brake strand.

These statements clearly contradict each other and I don't have enough experience with the gri to know if either statement is true. Is there any testing that could provide clarification to this situation

Bill Czajkowski · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 15

Be interesting if you ever get an answer besides no, in its various forms.

patto · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 0

Gri-gris are great but they lull people into a false sense of security.  And if they get forced unlocked then they provide much less braking force than regular belay devices.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
eli poss wrote:

Another academic question:

Does force applied to the brake strand engage the cam mechanism on it's own. I have heard people state that the brake hand engages the cam regardless of whatever is else is happening in the system. I have also heard people state that if they're isn't enough weight (rope drag, light climber, death grip) on the climber's strand the cam won't engage regardless of whether force is applied to the brake strand.

These statements clearly contradict each other and I don't have enough experience with the gri to know if either statement is true. Is there any testing that could provide clarification to this situation

If you clench your brake hand while the rope is moving through the device, the cam will engage. 

The cam may not engage if the rope doesn't move quickly enough and you don't have your brake hand on the rope, but if you're belaying correctly with the device, it will lock up. 

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,865
eli poss wrote:

Another academic question:

Does force applied to the brake strand engage the cam mechanism on it's own. I have heard people state that the brake hand engages the cam regardless of whatever is else is happening in the system. I have also heard people state that if they're isn't enough weight (rope drag, light climber, death grip) on the climber's strand the cam won't engage regardless of whether force is applied to the brake strand.

These statements clearly contradict each other and I don't have enough experience with the gri to know if either statement is true. Is there any testing that could provide clarification to this situation

In the absence of pulling on the climber's strand, the cam will not move.  Pulling on the brake strand will move rope through the device (AKA taking in slack).

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128
King Tut wrote:

Hey Jim et al,

Question about the use of a gri-gri for belaying the leader: If one is belaying off of your belay loop and the rope is clipped through the anchor you are on to the leader when the leader falls above you the belayer is going to be pulled upwards. Potentially the belayer and gri-gri are snapped upwards and in trying to squeeze the device through the biner you've clipped the rope throught potentially the cam is defeated is what I have always been told/believed....resulting in a drop of some distance and putting your brake hand on the spot.

Has this been documented by actual testing (didn't see anything on the Petzl site or elsewhere)??

I asked a similar question awhile back. Two people chimed in saying they've seen someone dropped as a result of getting yanked into the first bolt in the gym and pinning the cam open. I've seen a near-drop where a light girl was pulled to the first bolt on a sport climb and it opened the cam on her GriGri causing rope burns and nearly resulting in the climber decking. This is also an issue that Petzl has in the past warned against in the user manual stating that getting pulled into the first piece could override the cam. I think the issue is quite rare, but if the climbing looks hard out of the belay I'll ask the belayer to tie an overhand knot in the rope a ways down just in case the cam gets pinned. I found that's probably the fastest workable solution to this issue.

Ben Dubs · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 3
patto wrote:

Gri-gris are great but they lull people into a false sense of security.  And if they get forced unlocked then they provide much less braking force than regular belay devices.

I do NOT buy this defense. Do seat belts lull people into false security? The grigri is a redundant system in a sport with serious consequences, the device has the ability to completely cut out a chunk of the danger. Gri-gri, figure eight and helmet. Live long and prosper.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 10,980
Ben Dubs wrote:

I do NOT buy this defense. Do seat belts lull people into false security? The grigri is a redundant system in a sport with serious consequences, the device has the ability to completely cut out a chunk of the danger. Gri-gri, figure eight and helmet. Live long and prosper.

It's a legit idea.

Check out "Risk Homeostasis". Here's a long paper to explain the idea: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1730348/pdf/v004p00089.pdf

Pnelson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 60
patto wrote:

Gri-gris are great but they lull people into a false sense of security.  

You could say the same thing for literally every safety feature ever.  Seatbelts,  ABS, warning labels on drugs... 

Royal Robbins even pontificated in "Advanced Rockcraft" in the late 1960s that "gimics" like helmets, rappel devices, and harnesses would make people too complacent about the risks of climbing.

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0
patto wrote:

Gri-gris are great but they lull people into a false sense of security.  And if they get forced unlocked then they provide much less braking force than regular belay devices.

For people that are inexperienced, or have poor belay technique, I could see that. I've also noticed with myself and other people I climb with that using brake assisted belay devices all the time encourages sloppy belay technique. Which is why I practice with an ATC in the gym for some of the climbs  so I can keep my belay technique accurate and the brake hand instinct strong.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

There is no need to force yourself to use a different belay device so that you have good belay technique. Just use good belay technique regardless of the device. How hard is that? I use a Grigri 99% of the time, sport, trad, aid. It's a fantastic device, but I ALWAYS keep my brake hand on the rope. Simple. 

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0
Ryan Hamilton wrote:

There is no need to force yourself to use a different belay device so that you have good belay technique. Just use good belay technique regardless of the device. How hard is that? I use a Grigri 99% of the time, sport, trad, aid. It's a fantastic device, but I ALWAYS keep my brake hand on the rope. Simple. 

I never said I take my brake hand off of the rope, and I don't. There is a difference between terrible belay technique where one might take the brake hand off of the brake strand or hold the camming device of the Grigri open all the time, and sloppy. When you are always trusting a brake assisted belay device to do most of the work for you, it is easy to not be as focused, accurate, and quick in your belay technique. There is absolutely a need to brush up regularly on ones belay technique via using a non-brake assisted belay device. That is my opinion based on my own observations of myself, my climbing partners, and other people in the gym I watch belay. Do what you want.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
anotherclimber wrote:

I never said I take my brake hand off of the rope, and I don't. There is a difference between terrible belay technique where one might take the brake hand off of the brake strand or hold the camming device of the Grigri open all the time, and sloppy. When you are always trusting a brake assisted belay device to do most of the work for you, it is easy to not be as focused, accurate, and quick in your belay technique. There is absolutely a need to brush up regularly on ones belay technique via using a non-brake assisted belay device. That is my opinion based on my own observations of myself, my climbing partners, and other people in the gym I watch belay. Do what you want.

I'm not saying that you don't observer bad technique. I do to. I've saved more than a few people that were getting a really terrible dangerous belay in the gym. If you feel you need regular practice with the ATC, then stick with it. We all know ourselves. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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