Grigri Belay Technique


Original Post
James · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 0

With all the new gyms coming on board I see the staff at Movement and Earth Treks telling people who have the original Grigri that they are now belaying wrong.

Most of the time the staff member is someone that has good intentions, but does not understand that before they were born many people belayed correctly and safely with the GriGri which came out in 1991.

The belay technique taught at the time is now called the CLASSIC Technique. The poster people point too for justification is the NEW technique for the Grigri 2 and the +.

Please understand that people are not belaying wrong, they have been belaying that way for many years by following the instruction from Petzel. If you look at the instructions on the Grigri itself it shows the way the original grigri is designed to be used.

Staff please watch the video.

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

I used the old method (palm up) on the Grigri long before Grigri2 came out, and I still use my old Grigri. But that doesn't prevent me from learning and using the new method that is the standard with the Grigri (no matter the original, Grigri2, or the plus). Why is it so hard to learn something new?

DrRockso · · Red River Gorge, KY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 326
James wrote:

With all the new gyms coming on board I see the staff at Movement and Earth Treks telling people who have the original Grigri that they are now belaying wrong.

Most of the time the staff member is someone that has good intentions, but does not understand that before they were born many people belayed correctly and safely with the GriGri which came out in 1991.

The belay technique taught at the time is now called the CLASSIC Technique. The poster people point too for justification is the NEW technique for the Grigri 2 and the +.

Please understand that people are not belaying wrong, they have been belaying that way for many years by following the instruction from Petzel. If you look at the instructions on the Grigri itself it shows the way the original grigri is designed to be used.

Staff please watch the video.

Apologies that your ego was hurt by the gumby gym climbers, but many things have changed in climbing over the years as we find generally better ways to do things.  The old gri gri belay technique is no longer endorsed by petzl and your referencing of the video only goes to show that you are correctly doing an outdated technique. The new technique, which applies to the original gri gri as well,  considering it operated on the same principles as the newer iterations,  is better in that it maintains a more solid hand on the brake strand at all times and prevents panic squeezing of the device.  With practice the new technique is every bit as smooth and functional as the older technique.  If you choose to continue to belay using the old technique outdoors that is your own perogative but in the gym you're subject to the house rules. 

Jon H · · MD/DC · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 123

Sorry James, but you're wrong.  Even though plenty of people *have* managed to skate by without injuring/killing their partners, more than a handful of climbers HAVE been severely injured/killed due to poor grigri technique. And the poor grigri technique is the exact thing you're trying to defend.

It's not limited to gumbies either. Last summer in Rifle a 5.14 climber dropped another 5.14 climber due to sloppy grigri technique, e.g. "palm up" belaying, causing a horrendous leg injury.

Just don't do it.  There is a better way. Consider unlearning old habits which have been proven to be less safe.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,175

As a former gym manager I can tell you that the staff is only doing their job. Per insurance standards each gym has to have a certain way of belaying and they have to teach and enforce that standard. 

In addition, it's now common knowledge that the newest petzl method of belaying with the Gri is the best way to belay with that device. So, get used to it.

Personally, I think the Gri is only good for top roping because it has a tendency to be mis-used during lead by old-timers using the old method of belay and newbs who just can't get the whole finger under the flange thing. This is not conjecture as I have observed and recorded many incidents regarding the Gri for business record keeping. My advice is to sell the Gri and get something else...unless yer a top roper!

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

Petzl no longer endorses the 'classic' method. 

As a gym manager, I don't want to see people take their hand off the brake strand. There's no need to do so for any device, and it does nothing but compromise the belay, even if for only a moment. 

John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 451

Well, since we're picking sides ;-)  I'll get in the middle.   I use both the Grigri 1 and 2, ropes from 9.4 to 10.2mm.

I do not like the "new" method.  I find it strenuous (works my left shoulder) to pull thicker, fuzzy ropes through because of the extra friction from the sharp bend in the rope.   It also takes extra time to precisely grasp the Grigri and hold the cam open; critical when the draws are already in place.  As far as I can tell, the new method only works well with a new sub-10mm rope.   I don't call that "better".   

But I don't use the official "Classic" technique either.

Like Aikibujin, I use the "palm up" technique for feeding slack quickly.   I keep my thumb and forefinger in a ring around the brake strand (pinkie towards the Grigri) and slide my right palm under the Grigri at the same time as I pull the other rope into a horizontal (slightly down) position with my left.   The Grigri gets turned flat on its side in my right palm but I don't grasp it.  I let gravity and the pull from my left hand hold it in place.   BTW: the Grigri is at belly-button level, not up at my chest.

The "ring" and my other three fingers form a bowl, so that when my left hand pulls the rope away from me, the cam is pulled against my three fingers.  If the cam wants to lock, the pull from my left hand opens it, and vice versa.     

If the climber should fall at this point, the Grigri will be pulled upward, out of my open palm (remember, I don't grasp it).   My thumb and forefinger are still around the brake strand, and so it's easy to get the other fingers around it too, even though you don't really need to; two fingers are plenty to ensure locking.

Now before all the "New" supporters get bent out of shape, remember that the "new" method was developed by climbers and then submitted to Petzl, who after testing, endorsed it.  So I don't want to hear any nonsense that "doing something Petzl doesn't endorse" is fundamentally wrong.   You'd be hypocritical.


P.S. From what I've gathered about the accident in Rifle, referred to above, and it had nothing to do with Classic vs. New feeding technique.

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

utilize the new method, do not be lazy asshole and take brake hand off the strand for even brief moment or constantly rest your hand on the cam as if it is a hand-resting device, as the many peoplez do constantly, do not utilize excessive loop of slack down to knees to compensate for your laziness and inattentiveness, do not let anyone belay you with deadly ATC, do not wear the PAS thong, myah.

you are welcome

jleining · · CO · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 33

Because there are new and improved belay devices and new and improved methods of using them, does this mean that a hip belay is no longer safe or acceptable?

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

yes

Noah Yetter · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 105

Plenty of people use the old technique on Grigri2's. People who should know better. I'm amazed more people don't get hurt.

Anyway, don't use the old technique, no matter which device you have.

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 285
jleining wrote:

Because there are new and improved belay devices and new and improved methods of using them, does this mean that a hip belay is no longer safe or acceptable?

Repeated topics like this make hip belaying seem bomb and predictable by comparison.

Tim Lutz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 5
Tradiban wrote:

Personally, I think the Gri is only good for top roping because it has a tendency to be mis-used during lead by old-timers using the old method of belay and newbs who just can't get the whole finger under the flange thing. 

so which is Chris Sharma, an old man or a newb?!

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

Because there are new and improved belay devices and new and improved methods of using them, does this mean that a hip belay is no longer safe or acceptable?

No, I will not accept a hip belay when there are better ways to belay. I don't care how old and crusty you think you are. I definitely don't think a hip belay is safe for those huge whippers I've been taking on my year-long 5.6 proj (I'm gonna send soon!! I can feel it!).

Let me ask you this, just because there are kernmantle ropes and carabiners now, why aren't you still using hemp ropes and rappel with a dulfersitz?

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,175
Tim Lutz wrote:

so which is Chris Sharma, an old man or a newb?!

Old man, duh.

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 285
aikibujin wrote:

I definitely don't think a hip belay is safe

Absolutely as safe as belaying with any device.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530
aikibujin wrote:

No, I will not accept a hip belay when there are better ways to belay. I don't care how old and crusty you think you are. I definitely don't think a hip belay is safe for those huge whippers I've been taking on my year-long 5.6 proj (I'm gonna send soon!! I can feel it!).

Let me ask you this, just because there are kernmantle ropes and carabiners now, why aren't you still using hemp ropes and rappel with a dulfersitz?

Funny thing about hip belays. Back when I was a newer trad leader in 2004 or 2005, I can't remember when, I took a HUGE fall on a hip belay. Softest catch of my life.

Like anything else, if done correctly, it's a safe as any belay. The catch is, those who can hip belay these days are far and few between. I can think of 3 people who I'd let hip belay me on something hard. 

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

The catch is, those who can hip belay these days are far and few between.

I agree. That's pretty much my point.

jleining · · CO · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 33
aikibujin wrote:

Let me ask you this, just because there are kernmantle ropes and carabiners now, why aren't you still using hemp ropes and rappel with a dulfersitz?

That's comparing apples to oranges. The improvement in ropes is quantifiable and not debated. comparing different methods of belaying and ranking them as far as safety is not quantifiable. This all boils down to the new generation of "climbers" taking the sport out of climbing and trying to make it as safe as bowling. Yawn

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 285
aikibujin wrote:

I agree. That's pretty much my point.

And I'd say the same thing about belayers with grigris - beyond the base capabilities of the device itself competence is random at best. And even if you can reliably judge competence with the device who really feels comfortable with a bell curve of competence when it comes to belaying? That is a good thing about hip belaying - it is pretty binary, you're either competent with it or you don't do it and there never was much in the way of a bell curve of competence around it that you see with grigris.

Tim Lutz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 5

Make Ass Friction Great Again!

#MAFGA

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply