“Am I okay to let go of the brake strand of the rope while belaying or rappelling with an assisted braking belay device?”
Assisted braking belay devices, like the Petzl GRIGRI + and GRIGRI 2, are not designed for hands free use. When you need to go “hands-free” while belaying or rappelling, you must tie off the device and correctly lock the tie-off.
A braking force is applied to the rope when the GRIGRI pivots on the carabiner, causing the rope to become taut and enabling to cam to capture the rope. The cam and the frame of the device must be able to rotate freely at all times to enable the device’s assisted braking function. Any blockage or constraint of the device, or of the cam, disables the braking action on the rope. For this reason it is important to always maintain control of the brake strand with your hand.
In order to go hands-free while belaying or rappelling, you must correctly tie off the device before letting go of the brake strand. The use of a hard-knot to tie off the belay device, like a figure eight or over-hand on a bite, is not recommended as it becomes almost impossible to release the knot if it gets loaded up against the device. The use of a slip hitch or a mule hitch, locked off with a carabiner is the preferred method as it allows you to easily and quickly release the hitch and resume belaying or rappelling even if the hitch is under tension.
Assisted braking belay devices are not designed for “hands-free” operations because the self-braking action can be disabled. It is vital that the belayer maintain control of the brake strand of the rope at all times and use the proper tie-off method when appropriate.
It is important to fully understand the information provided in the technical notice for the GRIGRI 2 and GRIGRI + before using this complementary information. All Petzl products include a technical notice with their packaging. These notices are also available on every product page of Petzl.com. It is important to fully understand the information provided in the technical notice for each product before using this complementary information.
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Technical Solutions are provided by the Petzl Technical Institute. The Petzl Technical Institute serves as a center for knowledge, discussion, and the creation of solutions for those who work or play in the vertical world.
THIS STORY WAS WRITTEN BY PETZL AS ADVERTISING MATERIAL. CLIMBING MAGAZINE’S EDITORS ENDORSE THE CONTENT, BUT HAD NO INVOLVEMENT IN ITS CREATION.