Belaying with the GRIGRI

The GRIGRI is a belay device with assisted braking. The belay technique is very close to the generic technique, but has a few specifics. For a climber who is already familiar with using classic devices, it takes a little time to adjust. The technique described here is the only one that Petzl recommends.


  • Read the technical notice before viewing the following techniques.
  • It is important to fully understand the information provided in the technical notice before using this complementary information
  • Mastering these techniques requires training.
  • Consult a professional before attempting to perform these techniques on your own.

Basic techniques

Basic techniques


To facilitate the climber's movement while clipping, the belayer should be mobile: a step forward may be enough to provide the slack required.

Always hold the brake side of the rope!


Giving slack

Giving slack

Giving slack

Taking up slack


Giving slack quickly

Giving slack quickly



stage 1

1. Hold the rope with at least three fingers

stage 2

2. The index finger supports the GRIGRI

stage 3

3. The thumb presses on the cam


This action must be momentary. Once the leader has clipped, your hand must return to the primary belaying position. Continuous contact with the device can lead to misuse. This technique allows the brake side of the rope to always be held by the hand (with at least three fingers). It also limits the risk of blocking the cam's action.


We place great emphasis on the need to hold the brake side of the rope.

But why?

The term "belay device with assisted braking," which describes the GRIGRI, indicates that it is not an autolocking device. In fact, you may notice that if you slide your rope slowly through the device (especially for small diameter rope), it does not necessarily lock, and the rope slides freely through it. It's when you pull the brake side of the rope that the cam rotates to brake the rope.

It is also important to stress the fact that any blocking of the device or the cam will negate the braking action on the rope. This is why it is essential to avoid: grasping the device with your whole hand, keeping your thumb constantly on the cam, blocking the cam...

Here are three examples of causes of a ground fall, seen at the crags or in the gym.

1. Incorrect GRIGRI belay techniques

It is difficult to make an exhaustive list of all incorrect techniques. Here are some illustrations:


I hold the GRIGRI with my entire hand.

I hold the GRIGRI with my entire hand.

I hold the climber side of the rope.

I give slack without holding the braking side of the rope.


I incorrectly place my index finger.

I incorrectly place my index finger.

I hold the climber side of the rope.

I hold the climber side of the rope.


Note that the use of incorrect belay technique is the primary risk factor in an accident, especially when the belayer is surprised by a fall. If you recognize yourself in any of these illustrations of incorrect technique, adopt the technique presented at the beginning of this paragraph.


2. Bad reflexes

When a person is surprised while holding an object in the hand, one of the first reflexes is to hold that object more tightly. Imagine this situation in the case of a belayer holding a GRIGRI with the whole hand, at the moment the climber falls...

Bad reflexes 01

In this case, the belayer clenches the GRIGRI, without holding the brake side of the rope, and the climber falls to the ground.

Another bad belayer reflex is to grip the climber side of the rope.

Bad reflexes 02

In this case, the belayer burns his hand with the rope and worse, prevents the GRIGRI's cam from rotating, which then cannot brake the rope. Here also, the climber falls to the ground.


3. Belayer inattention. The belayer is talking, looking elsewhere...

Look at this example: the belayer, hands in pockets, is not at all attentive to the climber, who is in the process of clipping with far too much slack...


To finish, ground falls are often the result of multiple factors: poor technique, inattention....

It is up to you to limit these factors.

Do not hesitate to go see our video, Belaying with a GRIGRI.

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