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/ Grigri Real World Use

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fifthsunset - on 11 Sep 2018

I'm reading through the manual for a Grigri 2 and it says "always hold the braking side of the rope" but when I see people using them they're often not, and the cam should engage regardless, right? Do people who own them actually always have a hand on the brake rope, or is this just Petzl being overly cautious? 

Pedro50 on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to fifthsunset:

Not always but I have made myself improve as a result of teaching my beginner partner (and having to trust her to keep me safe)

1poundSOCKS - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to fifthsunset:

> but when I see people using them they're often not

I see it very rarely. Out of interest, where do you climb?

> Do people who own them actually always have a hand on the brake rope, or is this just Petzl being overly cautious?

Given that Petzl make the kit and recommend keeping your hand on the rope, it's no effort to keep the rope in your hand, and the potential serious consequence of the device not locking, why wouldn't you?

whenry on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to fifthsunset:

It is possible that if someone slumps gently on the rope that the cam won't engage, at which point the rope will move increasingly quickly through the Grigri and be difficult /impossible to stop without serious rope burn. I wouldn't climb with someone who didn't always hold the dead rope - though there are a good few people who don't. It's no effort to hold the dead rope, so why not do it?

nacnud - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to fifthsunset:

I always always always hold the brake rope.

People who don't are idiots.

The cam is not designed so it always engages if the brake rope isn't held. Most of the time it does anyway but not always.

Neil Williams - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to fifthsunset:

> I'm reading through the manual for a Grigri 2 and it says "always hold the braking side of the rope" but when I see people using them they're often not, and the cam should engage regardless, right? Do people who own them actually always have a hand on the brake rope, or is this just Petzl being overly cautious? 

Yes, I do.  They work like a car seatbelt and as such are not guaranteed to lock up if the climber "peels off" slowly.  People have been seriously injured and possibly killed as a result of ignoring this.

It's a brake assist device, not an autoblock.  It is designed to enhance safety and belayer comfort when used in near enough[1] the same way as a tube type belay device.

[1] other than when paying out for a leader, obviously.

Post edited at 09:47
GridNorth - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Because it can be a faff paying out rope fast which is why I sold mine and bought a Click-Up. Most examples of mis-use I've witnessed have been abroad.  My observations suggest that Germans/Austrians seem particularly lax.

Al

morphomouse - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to fifthsunset:

I would never let go of the brake hand no. I wouldn't be happy if I looked down to see my partner off the brake end either.

Phil79 - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to fifthsunset:

I'm sure people engage in all sorts of bad practice with all belay devices, grigri included.

Good video here about correct belay technique with grigri2 (about 6 mins in):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6EzpBaKYTs

HeMa on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

>  My observations suggest that Germans/Austrians seem particularly lax.

Add Italians and French to the mix...


That said, they also seem rather lax about the amount of slack in the system... as in a pile of rope on the ground between the climbed and the belayer... Not that critical if the route is tall enough, climber high enough,  and not many ledges etc. This amount of slack does how ever cause a greater impact on the grigri and actually make it more likely to lock...

 

deepsoup - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to fifthsunset:

>  and the cam should engage regardless, right? 

Nope.  Well, maybe but you can't take that for granted.

> Do people who own them actually always have a hand on the brake rope

I certainly do.  It's very easy, so why wouldn't you?  With just a wee bit of practice it's even easy to keep a light grip on the dead rope whilst putting the thumb of the same hand on the cam to pay out an armful of slack quickly with the other hand.

The only time I will sometimes let go is if I'm belaying someone who is 'working' a route and is hanging on the rope to rest.  The cam is already engaged, so it's probably not so bad at that point to let go of the dead rope.  What I always do personally though is just pull a bight through the carabiner and loop it over the device, the same way we used to quickly and easily lock off a Stop descender.  (Remember those?)  Takes all of about 2 seconds.

 

deepsoup - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

The worst example of Grigri misuse* I have seen was in the Foundry, by a group of extremely capable British climbers.  Something about familiarity breeding contempt I guess.

* - left hand firmly clamped over the cam, right hand paying out armloads of slack by yanking the live rope up through the device, neither hand anywhere near the dead rope.  'Hands free' until the slack runs out, then repeat.

gravy - on 11 Sep 2018

Germans/Austrians seem particularly lax.Add Italians and French

Sadly it's a habit that once developed is unstoppable. I find that bad grigri belayers become terrible trad belayers with unassisted belay devices. 

More than once I've looked down at a grigri taught belayer using a plate to discover that I was really soloing.

Hands on please.

 

Post edited at 10:32
GridNorth - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to deepsoup:

> * - left hand firmly clamped over the cam, right hand paying out armloads of slack by yanking the live rope up through the device, neither hand anywhere near the dead rope.  'Hands free' until the slack runs out, then repeat.

Everyone I knew, including me, belayed like that for several years to get over the problem of paying slack out quickly. When I was advised that this was unsafe, I stopped using the GriGri as I found the recommended method "cack handed" and it forced you into changing the way you hold the device depending on the situation. i.e. the disadvantages outweighed the advantages IMO.  I found the Mammut Smart better and the Click-Up even better still.

Al

 

1poundSOCKS - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

> Because it can be a faff paying out rope fast

Takes practice, like any belaying. No excuse to let go though, you can use thumb on the cam and keep the rope running through your hand.

GridNorth - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Of course but it's practice of a different technique and adoption of yet another technique based on the situation i.e. you have to change, albeit a subtle change, the way you hold it. Belaying wise the Click-Up is exactly the same as a standard plate type device.  Don't get me wrong they are brilliant when used correctly but I think the GriGri has the highest potential, by far, for misuse.

Al

deepsoup - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

Maybe it's more difficult to change an ingrained habit, I didn't use a Grigri back then, but I find the 'recommended' method piss easy. 

I don't see how you're required to change the way you hold the device depending on the situation.  Indeed most of the time there's no need to hold the device at all.  Left hand on the live rope, right hand on the dead rope, right thumb on the cam as and when required to pull out an armful of slack in a hurry.

When I first started going to the Foundry the cool kids were all belaying with a fig-8, using it like a sticht plate with a bight passed through the big end and clipped in to the same krab as the little end.  Compared to that, misusing a Mk1 Grigri was probably a great improvement. ;-)

1poundSOCKS - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

> Don't get me wrong they are brilliant when used correctly but I think the GriGri has the highest potential, by far, for misuse.

Not sure I've seen much correlation. Plenty of bad belaying practice with ATCs, mainly indoors.

GridNorth - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to deepsoup:

"right hand on the cam as and when required"  There you go subtle change in how you hold the device.  I think this has become easier with the later releases but I always found it a faff with the original.

Al

 

deepsoup - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

> "right hand on the cam as and when required"  There you go subtle change in how you hold the device.

Oh, I see what you mean.  Still don't see what's difficult about it, but each to their own.

 

 

Neil Williams - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> > Because it can be a faff paying out rope fast

> Takes practice, like any belaying. No excuse to let go though, you can use thumb on the cam and keep the rope running through your hand.


I prefer a slightly alternative version, which is to do it basically the same as you would a normal device, i.e. slide the right hand down the rope with the cam locked off, grip firmly, then bring that hand up, thumb the cam and pay out that bit of rope, then repeat.  Even safer than letting the rope slide.

GridNorth - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to deepsoup:

You also have ensure that your forefinger is under the lip don't you?  And the weight of the device doesn't help.  If your hand is not near to the GriGri at the instance that slack is required it also involves changing your grip from the rope to the device.  That's two more subtle changes.

Al

Post edited at 11:21
fifthsunset - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to fifthsunset:

Cheers all for the responses. There's a clear consensus here for hand on brake rope at all times.

Pretty funny that I got downvoted for asking a safety question. Stay classy, internet. 

jon on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to fifthsunset:

Thank heavens you came along. There hasn't been a Grigri slagging thread for a couple of months now

Post edited at 20:02
john arran - on 11 Sep 2018
In reply to deepsoup:

> With just a wee bit of practice it's even easy to keep a light grip on the dead rope whilst putting the thumb of the same hand on the cam to pay out an armful of slack quickly with the other hand.

This, this and thrice this. But it isn't a technique to try to explain to a novice belayer!

Jim Walton on 18 Sep 2018
In reply to fifthsunset:

When do we get to talk about Dynamic Belaying with a gri-gri   ?  I probably see this being done by about 2 in 100 people at indoor walls.  1 of those is doing it by accident! 

Zebdi - on 19 Sep 2018
In reply to Jim Walton:

> 1 of those is doing it by accident! 

What would happen if they used ATC? Ground fall?

Dynamic belaying with a GriGri is perhaps not as easy as with ATCs, but it's far from impossible. Instead of letting the rope slip through the device you just move your body. It's not that hard when you get used to it ;)

Oh, and the grigri technique that works best for me (and my buddies) - grigri in the right hand, thumb on the cam, dead rope *always* running through my right hand (between the hand and the device). That allows me to instantly switch from paying rope out fast to releasing the cam, grabbing the dead rope and stopping the fall.

planetmarshall on 19 Sep 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

>  My observations suggest that Germans/Austrians seem particularly lax.

Seems a bit of an unnecessary comment. As I mainly climb in the UK, my observations suggest that Brits are especially guilty.

 

GridNorth - on 19 Sep 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Seems a bit of an unnecessary comment. As I mainly climb in the UK, my observations suggest that Brits are especially guilty.

That comes across as a being bit "precious", perhaps your experience is not as valid as mine, I've climbed extensively all over the world.  All I am saying is that I have witnessed more Germanic speaking peoples misusing GriGri's than any other nationality.  It's not a scientific study and for all I know at the times I witnessed the misuse there may have been extraordinary, disproportionate numbers of them around.  That doesn't make my comments unneccessary.

Al

Post edited at 13:50
jimtitt - on 19 Sep 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

Might be that your idea of `misuse´ is different to that of Germans, French people, Italians, Greeks etc, etc. Or are you of the opinion that your method (or the latest one espoused by Petzl) are only true path?

GridNorth - on 19 Sep 2018
In reply to jimtitt:

Perhaps and I'm not saying I'm right and they are wrong but I didn't think anyone thought that letting go of the dead rope for long periods of time was a good idea and that is what I witnessed time after time. I seem to have been put on the defensive here and I'm not sure why, I don't even like GriGri's 

Al

 


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