Most popular assisted-braking belay device (and the best)
“Duh” was the common response from our expert panel when asked why the Grigri was deserving. With the promise of additional stopping power after its 1991 release, the Grigri changed the sport climbing world, and it created a brand-new category: assisted-braking belay devices. When the climber falls or the rope is jerked upward, an inner cam engages and pinches the rope to stop it from moving. It was no replacement for a good belayer, but now sport climbers could hang on the rope as much as they wanted without fear of overly fatiguing their belayers. “It brought a whole new level of safety to climbing,” according to one 30-year-veteran climber. Although it shines in the bolt-clipping department, you’d be mistaken not to try it out for other disciplines. One nominator said he doesn’t go multi-pitch climbing without his Grigri, whether he’s belaying a second off the anchor, jugging, or lowering out on an aid pitch. That includes every big wall first ascent and climbing expedition (50+) he’s ever done.
After 20 years of success, Petzl updated the original design in 2011, making it 25 percent smaller and 20 percent lighter than the original version, with the same braking power; the new version, cleverly dubbed the Grigri 2, is also compatible with ropes from 8.9mm to 11mm, to keep up with ever narrowing cords. Of course, the development of a new product coincided with the development of bad habits and climbing accidents due to improper use, so a few years before the release of the Grigri 2, Petzl stepped up its efforts to educate the public on the correct usage through videos and posters hung in climbing gyms. Check out our Grigri Belaying Basics Guide for tips.
Editors’ Choice Classic: The Climbing Gear Hall of Fame