There are an awful lot of devices for securing. One of them is the GriGri*. Among the indoor climbers at Neoliet, the GriGri is a popular device because, during blocks (where the climber hangs on the rope for some time), the fuse does not require the climber to constantly hold the rope firmly. The blockage of the GriGri combined with the tension on the rope ensures that the rope does not shoot through the device, thus requiring you to hold on to your rope with less effort than, say, an ATC. Because the GriGri locks (in most cases) automatically, it seems to provide extra safety compared to other devices. Nevertheless, the GriGri occurs regularly in Neoliet's incident records, as well as nationwide.
For years, the GriGri has appeared in Neoliet's incident registration (incidents are not accidents, but may become so). This is increasing. What turns out? It seems that the device works so well or provides such a sense of safety that some climbers seem to become a bit more inattentive. Is false safety lurking with this device?
What is the most common mistake?
The error most common among experienced and inexperienced climbers in our incident records is failure to properly fasten the GriGri. This incident has been reported 12 times in 2 years**. Where does it go wrong? Only one of the two eyelets was clicked in in these incidents (see photo). The device is then not closed correctly. This allows the rope to slip out of the device during the securing process. The fuse chain is then broken.
How do you avoid this binding error?
The partner check is an essential part of safe climbing, even when securing with the GriGri. Securing with a GriGri should never compromise the quality of the partner check. Properly checking for complete closure and thus whether the karabiner is through both eyes prevents this binding error. In the incidents, always the right part of the GriGri is not bound. So check both sides of the device during the partner check very deliberately. Grab the GriGri for a moment, turn it both ways and take your time.
Are there any other mistakes being made?
To a much lesser extent also occur:
- Failure to hold the brake rope (even the GriGri can slip through, although the chances are small)
- putting the rope wrong in the GriGri or hanging upside down (awkward)
- lift/reduce the braking action by grasping the locking mechanism.
You avoid those first two mistakes by having a good partner check. In addition to checking the complete closure of the GriGri, you should also check the course of the rope and the position of the device. The last mistake, grabbing the mechanism, can be prevented by keeping a close eye on it even while you are securing.
Make a choice that suits you
You make your own choice of material and therefore of the device with which you fasten. Of course it is fine to make a choice that you find comfortable and that suits you. However, it is essential to learn about the equipment and practice with it. In climbing, safety is your own responsibility. All studies show that a carefully performed partner check prevents the majority of accidents. So whatever choice you make, the partner check should always continue to be done carefully, even with a semi-automatic device such as the GriGri.
Publication date: 19/04/2022
Authors: Leo Broekmans / Nienke Swart