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The first-generation Grigri
An open first-generation Grigri
The Grigri 2, released early 2011

A Grigri (styled as GriGri or GRIGRI) is an assisted braking belay device manufactured by Petzl designed to help secure rock-climbing, rappelling, and rope-acrobatic activities. Its main characteristic is a clutch that assists in braking under a shock load. The success of this device has led to grigri becoming a common name for devices of this type. In 2011[1] a new version, the Grigri 2, was released to replace the original 1991 model.[2] Petzl released the Grigri+ in 2017, adding safety features to the original design, however this added weight and many climbers felt the new safety features were more of a hindrance than a help. 2019 saw the release of an updated version of the device, simply called the Grigri. It is named for the African amulet gris-gris, believed to protect the wearer from evil.[2]

Mechanism of operation[edit]

The Grigri works by pinching the rope when it is moving quickly (like in a fall), making it an assisted braking belay device. This function distinguishes it from traditional belay devices such as a Sticht plate or an ATC, whose braking mechanisms depend entirely on the user controlling the rope in a specific manner to increase or decrease friction. Inside the Grigri, the rope runs along a cam; the cam allows the rope to pass if moving slowly but rotates when the rope moves more quickly, blocking further movement by pinching the rope against the inside of the device.

Uses and limitations[edit]

Petzl recommends the device for lead belaying and top-rope belaying, according to EN 15151 standard.[3]

When used correctly, the Grigri's camming mechanism can assist in holding a climber that is working a route, or hanging on the rope while trying to figure out a climb. When belaying, the same technique for "taking in" that is used with an ATC or similar device is used. While paying slack out into the system, if the device is held open by pressing on the cam and the climber falls, the device will lock as long as the belayer is holding the brake strand. However, the device will not lock should the belayer let go of the brake strand while holding the cam in the open position. [4]

Each generation of the GriGri has a lower limit for the rope diameter for which the cam will engage; the manufacturer recommends the GriGri 2 to be used only with 8.9 to 11 mm diameter ropes.

This device has just one place for installing rope and it can't be used in climbing with half rope.

This device is not suitable for left-handed belay technique. There is a sharp edge on the side that will fray rope if used left-handed, but a smooth flange to protect the rope while belaying right-handed. However, there are special techniques that allow left-handed belayers to use this device, like reorienting it to face the other way.[5]

Big wall use[edit]

While the Grigri was designed as a belay device, some big wall climbers (such as those climbing Yosemite's Half Dome or El Capitan) have invented novel ways to extend its use and compromise its safety. For example, some big wall rope soloists use the Grigri (sometimes slightly modified) as a self-feeding hands-free self-belay device. It has also seen use by the second to self-belay while jumaring the rope as one half of the ascender pair. The manufacturer holds uses outside of those validated come with considerable risks, and its official documentation goes so far as to expressly prohibit certain uses.[6]

Parts of the GriGri and GriGri+[edit]

There are seven parts that the GriGri and the GriGri+ have in common.[7]

  • Moving side plate
  • Cam
  • Cam axle
  • Friction plate
  • Handle
  • Fixed side plate
  • Attachment holes

The GriGri+ has two additional components:

  • Selector knob
  • Lock button


  1. ^ Crothers, David (17 January 2011). "Petzl Grigri 2 to be Released in the USA in March". Climberism. Burlington, Vermont. Archived from the original on 7 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b "The GRIGRI belay device: a concept that forever changed climbing". Petzl USA. 22 July 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2022. In 1991, Petzl offered climbers an all-new belay device, the GRIGRI. … During a meeting, Michel Suhubiette showed up and asked, 'So, have you gotten anywhere with your grigri?' Mentioning the African good-luck charm made choosing a name easy for Paul. The GRIGRI was born."
  3. ^ "GRIGRI®". Petzl USA. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  4. ^ What happens if you Don't Hold the Rope with GriGri?. Hard is Easy. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  5. ^ Alex (31 January 2019). "How to Belay Left-Handed Using Grigris". Climbing Blogger. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  6. ^ "Self-belaying is prohibited!". Petzl USA. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  7. ^ Rob (17 December 2023). "One Quick Trick to Decode Your Petzl GriGri Serial Number". Outdoor Rack Builder. Retrieved 10 January 2024.

External links[edit]