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Accidents due to incorrect use of grigri or other belay device?

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There seems to be some 'anecdotal evidence out there' that climbers have been injured by a belayer failing to use a grigri correctly.

Does anyone have any direct experience  or knowledge of this that they would like to share on UKC [or any similar incident using any other type of belay device]. I'm thinking in particular of incidents at indoor walls.

 tmawer 17 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

I was dropped at a wall when my belayer pulled the leaver on the Grigri to lower me and wasn't concentrating, so I hit the floor much faster than I should. Fortunately no injuries though. Have heard of much worse outcomes from similar incidents unfortunately. 

 Phil79 17 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

You might want to check the BMC incident reports.....

https://www.incidents.thebmc.co.uk/responses

 Phil79 17 May 2022

> You might want to check the BMC incident reports.....

You can also search by word and date, "grigri" or "gri gri" does throw a fair few results. 

In reply to Phil79:

Thanks Phil

 tingle 17 May 2022
In reply to Phil79:

"They still had their belay device (GriGri) racked on a back gear loop on their harness. This punched into their back, leaving them very sore and tipping them into an inversion. An imprint of the device was visible on their back afterwards." 

Free GriGri tattoos. 

In all seriousness though i have been approached by wall staff for incorrectly using a GRiGri and i can see the error could become serious.

In reply to John Workman:

I've witnessed dozens of instances mainly due to the belayer not paying sufficient attention rather than actual misuse or failure of the device and enough to have put me off them somewhat.  I much prefer the Click-Up, it's more intuitive to use and has less potential to get wrong.

I've lost count of the number of times I have seen them being used incorrectly.

1
 Graeme Hammond 17 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

If used correctly all belay devices are safe however assisted locking devices are inherently safer. 

3
 wbo2 17 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

I've been using an assisted device for a few months, but tried going back to a pivot to belay someone on a certain route.  While it was nice to have such easy rope feeding, loking the rope and belaying in general felt remarkably sketchy.  

I know it's very UKC to moan about gri.gri's but you're barking up the wrong tree for accidents I think

2
 Rick Graham 17 May 2022
In reply to Graeme Hammond:

> If used correctly all belay devices are safe however assisted locking devices are inherently safer. 

I agree with the first statement but would prefer to see some statistical evidence on the second.

It could be that the perceived safety features allow for a relaxed attitude enabling occassional misuse and resulting accidents.

1
In reply to John Workman:

What's the motivation for this if you don't mind me asking?

I think the majority agrees that in their normal usage they are pretty good devices but like anything else wrongly or inattentively used there's going to be some accidents

There's a lot of good resources and demos that it needs correct use to be safe, maybe a very helpful video is this

youtube.com/watch?v=jKe72j_mBlU&

In reply to John Workman:

A guy I was climbing with twisted his ankle when he deliberately took a "victory whip" after an overhang where I couldn't see him. I was expecting him to take up a load of slack to rethread so I had my thumb on the Grigri, so it took a long time to lock, he fell nearly 10m I think (from the top of a 30m route)

1
 Jenny C 17 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

After 16 years working at a climbing wall I have seen far too many belaying incidents, invariably these are belayer error rather than faulty devices. We used to record the device used when reporting incidents and I would say that grigris had more than their fair share of full height falls, almost invariably when in the hands of an experienced user who ****** up.

I am also aware of one incident where it is thought that the climber sat back very gently at the top of the route. The failure to shock the grigri resulted in it totally failing to lock and a ground fall from full height. Both climber and belayer were experienced.

I have had issues when belaying a child with a grigri, remember the grigri acts similar to an inertia seatbelt, so needs an impact to lock the device. In this instance the kid was too light to engage the mechanism so the grigri was just behaving as a friction device - personally I don't like the concept of a safety locking device that can't be relied on to lock.

9
In reply to Suncream:

I'm a bit confused, surely, if you were using one as Petzl instruct, you'd also have been "tunnelling" the rope, and once you saw it moving in an unexpected manner (faster than he could pull it up) you'd have closed your hand which would have caused an immediate (and quite violent) locking up?

Post edited at 16:48
In reply to Neil Williams:

Yes, that's exactly what happened. But once I had had time to react (less than a second) he had already fallen a long way. The same thing would happen at any fall, but I wouldn't normally be in the "give slack quickly" position if I expected someone to fall.

In reply to Suncream:

That's an interesting point, as someone could fall at any point until they shout "safe", assuming you're using that.  If he did shout "safe" and then deliberately take a lob, he's an idiot.

 gazhbo 17 May 2022
In reply to Jenny 

> I am also aware of one incident where it is thought that the climber sat back very gently at the top of the route. The failure to shock the grigri resulted in it totally failing to lock and a ground fall from full height. Both climber and belayer were experienced.

Are you sure that the belayer, however experienced, wasn’t holding the cam open?However lightly the climber sat back they are still going to produce a massive load which would “shock” the grigri  when they let go.

> I have had issues when belaying a child with a grigri, remember the grigri acts similar to an inertia seatbelt, so needs an impact to lock the device. In this instance the kid was too light to engage the mechanism so the grigri was just behaving as a friction device - personally I don't like the concept of a safety locking device that can't be relied on to lock.

I’ve belayed people who feel too light, particularly when there’s a bit of drag, to engage the cam.  It’s never a problem though as it means they just don’t move.  They don’t free fall through the gri gri.  Sometimes you have to actively feed the rope though to lower them.  Annoying but not dangerous or a failure of the device.

2
 snoop6060 17 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

I always just assume the Spanish way is best. No hands. It’s those pesky hands keeping the cam down that causes the issues. I reckon if you tied a gri gri to a tree and it had a bit of slack out it’d catch 1000 of 1000 test falls. I might be wrong! 

5
In reply to tingle:

It was three days until I could bend far enough to put my own socks on!
 

This is an excellent video about how important it is to keep a hold of the brake strand all the time and what happens if you don't:  youtube.com/watch?v=jKe72j_mBlU&

 Jenny C 17 May 2022
In reply to gazhbo:

> In reply to Jenny 

> Are you sure that the belayer, however experienced, wasn’t holding the cam open?However lightly the climber sat back they are still going to produce a massive load which would “shock” the grigri  when they let go.

It was a fair few years ago and not at the wall I worked at, but yes the climber involved is very experienced as was their belayer, of course other explanation is just simply that the belayer messed up. (I can't say too much without breaching admins request not to identify the incident).

> I’ve belayed people who feel too light, particularly when there’s a bit of drag, to engage the cam.  It’s never a problem though as it means they just don’t move.  They don’t free fall through the gri gri.  Sometimes you have to actively feed the rope though to lower them.  Annoying but not dangerous or a failure of the device.

In my case (first hand experience) you're right it wasn't a freefall, but just a total failure to lock, with the child gradually descending to the ground until I manually locked of the device (as I would with a friction plate). Not dangerous of you are belaying correctly, but a strong lesson for those who think the grigi locking is a fail-safe safety feature.

 JIMBO 17 May 2022
In reply to Jenny C:

> ...The failure to shock the grigri resulted in it totally failing to lock...

> ...remember the grigri acts similar to an inertia seatbelt, so needs an impact to lock the device...

This is not how a gri gri works... you can sit on it very slowly and it will cam if the dead end is held... the Revo works like a seatbelt... this is why gri gri is preferred for working sport routes 

1
In reply to John Workman:

I've never used it, but the nearest I can think to reduce accidents would be if everyone used Wild Country Revo.

That said there's probably some way of making it fail with creative ingenuity

8
 duncan 17 May 2022
In reply to Rick Graham:

> I agree with the first statement but would prefer to see some statistical evidence on the second.

The only useful data comes from the DAV. One of their studies from 2014 found accident rates amongst tube device users to be roughly double those of grigri users. Results summarised here: https://www.naturfreunde.at/files/uploads/2016/01/NF_S16und17_Sportklettern.pdf

More than 1000 incidents analysed if I recall correctly  

In reply to Ninenailspete:

Thanks Pete

In reply to CantClimbTom:

Tom

I'm interested in what is the 'best' type of belay device to use at an indoor wall. Views seem polarised with particularly 'old school' climbers who have used ATC type devices [mainly outdoors with double ropes] being particlarly averse to change. [I'm old school but I think grigris are better / safer.

1
 DaveHK 17 May 2022
In reply to duncan:

> The only useful data comes from the DAV. One of their studies from 2014 found accident rates amongst tube device users to be roughly double those of grigri users. Results summarised here: https://www.naturfreunde.at/files/uploads/2016/01/NF_S16und17_Sportklettern.pdf

> More than 1000 incidents analysed if I recall correctly  

Can't read the article but it doesn't necessarily support the idea that assisted devices are intrinsically safer, other factors like user experience will come into play.

Post edited at 19:22
2
 DaveHK 17 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

> Tom

> I'm interested in what is the 'best' type of belay device to use at an indoor wall.

I don't think there's a catch all (badum tish) answer to that,  it depends on the device and the user.

In reply to John Workman:

I prefer the Click-Up to the GriGri but would have no concerns about being belayed with a GriGri although I would need assurances that the belayer is experienced in it's use.  I think the Click-Up is better with regard to it's failsafe characteristics and in that respect possibly better in the hands of a novice as it's more like an ordinary plate in use.

Post edited at 19:50
2
 duncan 17 May 2022
In reply to DaveHK:

> Can't read the article but that doesn't necessarily support the idea that assisted devices are intrinsically safer, other factors like user experience will come into play.

Grafik 3 (top right) is the key data, it reports ratio of accidents according to device used.

This is an observational study, not a randomised trial and other factors may be involved as you say.  It is all we have to go on currently and until there is better evidence, showing - for example - that grigri users are more experienced and pay more attention than tube users it would be wise to assume grigris are inherently safer than tubes. Grigris are still a long way from fool-proof of course.

On a personal note, I'm old enough to have held falls with everything from a waist belay, Sticht plate, ATC and derivatives, and many assisted braking devices. I've owned and used all three generations of grigri. I disliked one and two but think Petzl finally got the thing to work properly with the 2019 version. It is now nearly as straightforward to give slack (using the index finger under the lip method) as a tube. 

1
In reply to CantClimbTom:

I have a Revo. It sucks because basically every other assisted device is better (cost, weight, won't lock until the rope has moved through it a fair amount, no guide mode, only 1 rope).

But I have no idea how to make it fail short of opening it up and damaging it. Holding the moving parts down doesn't stop it. You cannot thread it backwards. When the rope hits 4m/s it just locks every time. Unlike other ABDs there is no lock override at all.

 Fraser 17 May 2022
In reply to Jenny C:

> ... remember the grigri acts similar to an inertia seatbelt, so needs an impact to lock the device.

Not sure how 'similar' you mean, but that's not really how an inertia seatbelt works. It's the rapid deceleration of the vehicle that triggers a moving object in the mechanism which locks the spool holding the belt. It doesn't need an 'impact' as such.

17
 PaulW 17 May 2022
In reply to Fraser:

Not sure about that. If you yank a seatbelt in a stationary car it will lock

 jkarran 17 May 2022
In reply to gazhbo:

> Are you sure that the belayer, however experienced, wasn’t holding the cam open?However lightly the climber sat back they are still going to produce a massive load which would “shock” the grigri  when they let go.

Pretty sure with the right thin (in limits) slick rope you can get it to run freely. 

Still, I'm definitely in the 'better having the assistance than not' camp, I'd pretty much switched fully to gri gri for all single rope jobs sport, tr and trad by the time I stopped climbing (a classic Sticht being my preferred and very grabby alternative).

Jk (otherwise pretty old school hence the Sticht) 

Post edited at 20:47
1
 Fraser 17 May 2022
In reply to PaulW:

Yes, but that's not the reason or indeed the way the belt locks in the event of an impact or drastic deceleration. It's essentially an added function added to convince drivers it'll lock when you want it to. At least that's my understanding of the mechanics of them.

Edit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRaU1HMJyCo&t=290s 

At 2:58min into this video it explains the "lock when you yank it" reasoning.

Post edited at 21:47
 jimtitt 18 May 2022
In reply to Fraser:

When inertia reel seat belts came out they had the flyout weight system. Then various extra systems were added (and mostly removed again) like the ball and ramp or swinging weight. They usually had the problem that they were position sensitive like you parked on a hill and couldn't get out to go into a shop or only functioned in specific accidents. They were  also impossible to check by the MOT. The Revo works like a normal seat belt.

 Fraser 18 May 2022
In reply to jimtitt:

I remember taking one apart when I wanted to fit a set of inertia belts to my first car ('69 plate Mini) as it only had a set of fixed belts. Those had a small, suspended pendulum which, when moved by the deceleration, (or as you say, you parked on a hill!) flipped a steel plate which locked into the toothed disc on either side of the seat belt spool. The modern ones are more refined, as shown in the video I linked to above.

I've no idea how a Revo works - never used or seen one!

 jimtitt 18 May 2022
In reply to Fraser:

It's got a pawl which flies out under centrifugal force, it's idiot-proof unless you manually trigger the locking by pulling one of the ears down (as is often recommended) in which case things can go wrong.

 spenser 18 May 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

You are an idiot if you shout "safe" and expect anything other than to be taken off belay.

Only victory whip if you can communicate to your belayer that is what you are going to do. It is possible to catch someone while paying out slack but the climber is inherently going to fall further due to the time required for the device to operate, this is true of any device. 

1
 Rick Graham 18 May 2022
In reply to spenser:

> ... It is possible to catch someone while paying out slack but the climber is inherently going to fall further due to the time required for the device to operate, this is true of any device. 

If you cannot hold a fall that unfortunately happens when paying out, there's something intrinsically wrong with the belayer technique or the device.

 ADJ85 18 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

I put mine on 

https://www.incidents.thebmc.co.uk/responses

My belayer (relatively inexperienced with a GriGri and after some time away from climbing but previously a very competent belayer with a tube/ATC) somehow managed to have their rope hand controlling the speed of descent rather than using the cam, when friction/heat got the better of them they let go of the rope with the cam fully open.  Luckily they realised their error just in time to let go of the lever and stop me 1ft from the ground. 

 Cobra_Head 18 May 2022
In reply to duncan:

> The only useful data comes from the DAV. One of their studies from 2014 found accident rates amongst tube device users to be roughly double those of grigri users. Results summarised here: https://www.naturfreunde.at/files/uploads/2016/01/NF_S16und17_Sportklettern.pdf

> More than 1000 incidents analysed if I recall correctly  

How many people use tubes compared to grigris?

I've seen more accidents with grigris than tubes, though my personal biggest drop was with someone using a tube.

 Cobra_Head 18 May 2022
In reply to Fraser:

> At 2:58min into this video it explains the "lock when you yank it" reasoning.

Watch at 4:00 this is more modern, than the 2:58 type.

 David Coley 18 May 2022
In reply to Suncream:

> Yes, that's exactly what happened. But once I had had time to react (less than a second) he had already fallen a long way. The same thing would happen at any fall, but I wouldn't normally be in the "give slack quickly" position if I expected someone to fall.

Please could i just check one point: did you have your fingers underneath and holding the underside of the device, or were you just resting the rope guide on your index finger?

Thanks

 spenser 18 May 2022
In reply to Rick Graham:

Absolutely, you are still likely to have a bit more rope slip through the plate while moving the dead rope to the locked off position than if it had already been there though. 

 David Coley 18 May 2022
In reply to JIMBO:

>> ...The failure to shock the grigri resulted in it totally failing to lock...

>> ...remember the grigri acts similar to an inertia seatbelt, so needs an impact to lock the device...

>This is not how a gri gri works... you can sit on it very slowly and it will cam if the dead end is held... the Revo works like a seatbelt... this is why gri gri is preferred for working sport routes 

My understanding (possibly wrong) is that it is both of these. I understood it locked due to the inertia of the brake strand. This "inertia" can be provided in one of two ways. Either by the rope accelerating (a lead fall), or you holding the break strand and providing resistance to the movement (i.e. rather like inertia). The key in the above being "....if the dead end is held".   

 David Coley 18 May 2022
In reply to JMAB:

> I have a Revo. It sucks because basically every other assisted device is better (cost, weight, won't lock until the rope has moved through it a fair amount, no guide mode, only 1 rope).

I like it much of the time. I find it smoother to belay with than any other device. For lead belaying 800m routes it is a dream, although heavy. I also like the idea that on single pitch it self feeds so the belayer can be doing something else until the first runner goes in. It is very good for teaching as it is used in the same way as a plate so offers transferable skills, without my life being so much at risk.

However I find it rubbish for top roping (too little friction), can't really be used in guide mode, can't be used to dog a route.

2
 Iamgregp 18 May 2022
In reply to spenser:

> Only victory whip if you can communicate to your belayer that is what you are going to do. 

Nonsense.  Your belayer ought to be ready and able to hold a fall at any time you're on belay, regardless of whether intentional, accidental, planned or not.   

3
 duncan 18 May 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

https://www.naturfreunde.at/files/uploads/2016/01/NF_S16und17_Sportklettern.pdf

Grafik 1: 54% of belayers used tube devices, 14% grigris.

From the text: 1054 study participants, 34 incidents reported. Data from 2012 and 2013.

Subsequent to this research, DAV recommendation from 2015 "Belay Device Recommendation for Single Pitch Climbing" has been to use an assisted device when on indoor walls or single pitch crags so I imagine the proportion of tube users has probably reduced. (The DAV acknowledge that tube devices are still appropriate on multipitch routes and it is important to familiarise yourself with their use in a more controlled environment ie indoor walls and single pitch routes.) 

 David Coley 18 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

I'm meant to be marking papers, so need a distraction. Here are some thoughts

At a guess the vast majority of all falls have been held on a grigri. My logic for this is: people used not to fall, most airtime today is logged by those climbing hard sport and most will be being belayed on a grigri. Most falls do not happen in the UK, they happen on sports routes, which we have relatively few of, and most of those Spanish and French climbers will be using a grigri, they might not even own a plate. A single climber at Malham will probably log more falls dropping onto a grigri on one route in one day than happens at Stanage in a month (just guessing).

Most Grigri "failures" seem to happen from (1) an inexperienced person during lowering; (2) fingers on the underside of the device whilst the thumb is pressing; (3) not holding the brake strand; (4) threading the device the wrong way. All these are really incorrect use. Now it could be argued that a device should be proof against user error, or that climbers should read the instructions, keep up to date, practice anything that is life critical in a safe environment, use a buddy check, know how to check a grigri is threaded correctly. And finally, welcome criticism from others when they use something incorrectly. But on all those I guess I'm living in a dream world.

The only real failure mode I can think of reading about is during a slab or top rope fall and the belayer holding fast to the live strand. Although this is still user error, it really is just a natural reaction and not from not bothering to read the instructions. Maybe holding a series of falls beforehand might help.

Whereas with a plate the following is all possible and we all see regularly: (1) people holding their hand very close to the device, or on top of it (I have twice removed someone's hand from the inside of a plate - the little bridge of skin between thumb and index finger, ouch). (2) people resting with their hand high and elbow bent (kind of turning the brake off); (3) a fall whilst giving slack and the hand is above the device; (4) a mess of fumbling over double ropes. When I have spoken to people there seems to be a belief that they will be able to react in time as they see the leader fall and reposition their hand. As the person above has stated, even taking a thumb off a grigri takes long enough for the fall to be much longer than needed. In the case of the leader being out of sight, you will have no advance warning, the rope will not accelerate to give warning - it will be all but instantly travelling at 25mph even in a modest fall. And no one wants to grab a rope running at that speed.  

In my mind, the best way to practice belaying is with a blindfold on (ensures the leader is out of sight) and the leader falling unexpectedly (to the belayer) at any part of the cycle of letting rope out or in. A back up is needed. In my experience this seems to lead to the desire to own an assisted device.

2
In reply to David Coley:

I just had my index finger under the lip, as per the recommendation. I forgot to mention earlier, which is probably very relevant in this incident, that there was a lot of rope drag, so firstly it was harder to tell what the climber was doing when I couldn't see him, but secondly there will have been less force on the grigri.

 JIMBO 18 May 2022
In reply to David Coley:

The gri gri device uses friction on the cam to cause a moment to turn the cam to pinch the rope... you increase the likely hood of sufficient friction to turn the cam by holding the dead end.

 David Coley 18 May 2022
In reply to JIMBO:

> The gri gri device uses friction on the cam to cause a moment to turn the cam to pinch the rope... you increase the likely hood of sufficient friction to turn the cam by holding the dead end.

I'm no expert, but I'm not sure that is 100% true, but maybe I'm wrong. In that: (1) if I pull the rope through the device slowly it does not activate, yet the friction would be the same; (2) petzl recommend you don't clip the thing to a ground anchor in the gym, as although the friction would be the same, the brake strand rope will accelerate downwards naturally under gravity rather than providing resistance via inertia.

1
 Rick Graham 18 May 2022
In reply to JIMBO:

> The gri gri device uses friction on the cam to cause a moment to turn the cam to pinch the rope... you increase the likely hood of sufficient friction to turn the cam by holding the dead end.

Exactly.

Almost all user error can be eliminated by always  holding the dead rope below the belay loop ( when belaying a leader). Its fairly simple really, applies to virtually all belay devices.

Dont get me started all that v123 crap.

Post edited at 14:36
In reply to David Coley:

Grigri use on ground anchors is off label, but it is so commonly done (e.g. in a great many US, Australian and NZ climbing gyms) that they might as well adopt it as an official use.

If you hold the brake rope it pretty much will lock.

Post edited at 14:52
1
 JIMBO 18 May 2022
In reply to David Coley:

Both of your examples involve not holding the dead end.

The only time I've had a gri gri 'fail' was when the dead end wasn't held but the live end was. This meant the cam didn't have enough friction to turn it so it didn't lock... I hit the ground very slowly as my speed was moderated by the belayers hand! Their hand was a mess... I was fine

 spenser 18 May 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

Would you shout "Safe" and take a victory whip as the individual I was responding to described? 

To me "Safe" is a very specific command to stop belaying and using it to mean anything else, particularly anything involving catching a fall, is a colossally stupid idea. 

 Iamgregp 18 May 2022
In reply to spenser:

> Would you shout "Safe" and take a victory whip as the individual I was responding to described? 

Of course not, but that's irrelevant - I don't think the person who posted about the incident in question said that the person climbing shouted "safe" at any point.  He just said he was holding the cam down as he was expecting him to start taking up slack. 

I think he just got a bit ahead of himself basically...

 jimtitt 18 May 2022
In reply to David Coley:

Sort of, the coefficient of friction of nylon varies wildly depending both on the normal force and the velocity, 0.07 and 2.0 both being observed values. However engaging the cam against the spring relies on acceleration and whatever resists that (either the frictional force or the inertia in the rope, more probably both). The slow slide down with a lightly loaded Grigri is due to a more complex effect.

 wbo2 18 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:  Having had a look at DAV graph 3 my question is around the statement that weighted proportion of accidents with tube devices is only twice that of a gri gri as it looks to me closer to 5.    Can any fans of tube devices please explain to me why a device with a measured error rate 5 times that of the grigri is considered less dangerous?

This makes sense, and of the thankfully small number of droppings I've seen have most often involved tube devices, and normally near the ground.  Examples from jimbobs mate taking a victory and surprise, surprise , going a long way aren't especially convincing

 Rick Graham 18 May 2022
In reply to wbo2:

>   Having had a look at DAV graph 3 my question is around the statement that weighted proportion of accidents with tube devices is only twice that of a gri gri as it looks to me closer to 5.    Can any fans of tube devices please explain to me why a device with a measured error rate 5 times that of the grigri is considered less dangerous?

I am a fan of tube devices, but prefer the newer ATC xp ( or a click up) rather than the original ATC.

I also only climb with belayers who  hold the rope in the correct manner, one hand always below the belay loop and with thumb up.

 David Coley 18 May 2022
In reply to Rick Graham:

> I also only climb with belayers who  hold the rope in the correct manner, one hand always below the belay loop and with thumb up.

That seems to be key, and I have no idea why so, so, many people don't do this.

 Rick Graham 18 May 2022
In reply to David Coley:

> That seems to be key, and I have no idea why so, so, many people don't do this.

Thinking back, I don't remember even getting written  instructions with the first plate I bought c.1972. Might have been some discussion / articles in climbing mags or more likely just peer / mentor advice.

One factor that might have helped is that clipping the plate krab into the rope tie in on a Whillans or waist only harness would be slightly higher than onto a belay loop, so easier to keep the dead rope hand below.

In reply to Jenny C:

> I am also aware of one incident where it is thought that the climber sat back very gently at the top of the route. The failure to shock the grigri resulted in it totally failing to lock and a ground fall from full height. Both climber and belayer were experienced.

> I have had issues when belaying a child with a grigri, remember the grigri acts similar to an inertia seatbelt, so needs an impact to lock the device. In this instance the kid was too light to engage the mechanism so the grigri was just behaving as a friction device

^This. I've seen a kid about 5 years old fall the full height of a short (7m?) school wall because they let go gently and by the time the belayer had realised what was happening the climber had hit the floor (at slow speed - maybe on rope stretch).  It was at a charity climbing event with a lot of distraction and noise - the belayer was distracted and had no audible clues what was going on.

2
 David Coley 19 May 2022
In reply to JIMBO:

Ouch, hope his hand was not too badly burnt.

I think we are saying much the same thing, just differently. As I see it, the hand, or some mass that is being accelerated is critical and it is that combined with the friction which activates the cam.

It is easy to see friction as the only part of the story, as fatter ropes lock more easily. But because the friction doesn't change that much whether the hand is in place or not, this might send out the wrong message. But if resistance (from the hand or the inertia of the mass of the brake strand) is also emphasised, people might be more likely to understand that the hand is still key.

This also helps I think when chatting about when grigri failures. For example in your case (there have been many such drops reported), the rope was passing through the device, so there would have been friction, but his other hand took the acceleration out. In fact, there would have been a much better chance of it locking if he had let go with both hands. And this observation is only obvious I would say if one thinks about both the friction and the resistance to motion provided by the mass of the brake strand or having a hand on the brake strand. 

 Gambit 19 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

I got dropped once from the top of a wall as the belayer had the GriGri the wrong way round, the only reason I did not deck was that the rope jammed in a tiny crack in the device (should be far too small to get a rope in). Now before climbing, alongside checking the not we always check the device and the belayer says you are the climber to note it is the right way round. Also do this with other devices e.g. the click up

 David Coley 20 May 2022
In reply to Toerag:

>  It was at a charity climbing event with a lot of distraction and noise - the belayer was distracted and had no audible clues what was going on.

And didn't nice 7m of rope going the wrong way through her/his hand? That's not a criticism, just an interesting point about how our brains work.

1
 wbo2 20 May 2022
In reply to Toerag: How come Grigris don't fail to lock when you sit back on the rope and there's a lot of rope drag in the system?  I've lowered people off routes with a pivot where you barely need to hold the rope, yet a grigri still locks.

 Cobra_Head 20 May 2022
In reply to duncan:

> Grafik 1: 54% of belayers used tube devices, 14% grigris.

Yes but that's Johnny Foreigner, not us Brits, we know how to use a tube properly.

1
In reply to John Workman:

I have twice witnessed ground falls (one at a gym, one outside) when inexperienced belayers have kept the cam of a grigri held down during a fall and lost control of the rope. Both times were the belayers first time of using a grigri. 
 

I’ve also seen a ground fall when lowering a leader and the handle of the grigri was pulled fully back and control of the rope was lost.

Post edited at 10:28
1
 ian caton 21 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

After all these years and hundreds of thousands, if not more, falls there are still people banging on about gri gris being dangerous. FFS. You seriously have to try hard to screw up with a gri gri. If it's a leader fall and the rope is through it the right way, clue it's written on the gri gri, whatever you are doing with it, unless you are holding the rope ridiculously tight, it gets taken out of your hands and you are left holding the dead rope.

As for lowering someone, if they can screw up with a gri gri, don't let them near anything else. Look at it. It is an ordinary belay plate with an added brake. 

4
In reply to David Coley:

I suspect there was some momentary confusion - 'why isn't the device locking?' as they were so used to it locking, and they failed to instinctively hold the dead rope like someone brought up on tube/plate devices would do - this was a schoolteacher, not a climber. It doesn't take long to hit the ground from such a low height. They may not even have been holding the dead rope!

In reply to ian caton:

I was reminded of the words of the song.

"The chances of anyone coming from Mars are a million to one they say.  The chances of anyone coming from Mars are a million to one but still they come."

I don't think GriGrigi's are inherently less safe but they do seem to have a greater potential for misuse and this can be seen quite frequently.

Post edited at 07:38
6
In reply to ian caton:

Ah, you hadn't realised this is the 3 monthly Grigri bashing thread when like-minded folk get together and rubbish the world's most popular and best and safest belay device. Sit back and enjoy... 

Post edited at 08:36
4
 wbo2 22 May 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants: Well the only stats produced say they're safer, even despite the misuse.   Of courese it's important to not use any actual data and base your assessment on hearsay and 'my mate saw' stories

I'd bear in mind misuse of a tube device, also common, will have some undesirable outcomes tho' the fashion (and that's what it is) is to brush them under the carpet.

2
In reply to wbo2:

I am basing my comments on personal experience not hearsay but I would love to see the stats. Perhaps you could point me towards this evidence, it would be more productive than sarcasm.

I used a GriGri for many years and would prefer to be belayed on single pitch sport with an assisted belay device than a normal plate, it's simply that my personal preference is now for a Click-Up. My use of the word "potential" is important in this context so I'm not sure where you get the idea that I am somehow anti GriGri.

Post edited at 10:36
 Fellover 22 May 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> I am basing my comments on personal experience not hearsay but I would love to see the stats. Perhaps you could point me towards this evidence, it would be more productive than sarcasm.

wbo2 is probably being sarcastic because the only stats on the topic (that I'm aware of, if anyone knows of any other stats I'd appreciate a pointer towards them) have already been linked in this thread, so it seems a bit like you're ignoring them, though I imagine you just didn't see the link.

Link: https://www.naturfreunde.at/files/uploads/2016/01/NF_S16und17_Sportklettern.pdf 3

3
In reply to Fellover:

That would be fair comment if I was saying that the GriGri was more dangerous than any other device and stating that as fact.  I wasn't and I don't believe they are. I do believe however that they are more succeptable to incorrect use than some other devices e.g. Click-Up and standard plates. I'm not aware that there have been any studies in that regard so it is unfair to imply that I am ignoring real evidence in favour of anecdotes.

Post edited at 14:54
1
 jimtitt 22 May 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

There is in fact a study from the DAV on the relative preponderance of usage 'failures' of various devices. However the study was done by a couple of rather over-enthusiastic young people and many of their criteria are somewhat zealous and open to considerable interpretation like standing too far from the wall or excessive slack so I prefer to ignore it altogether.

 David Coley 22 May 2022
In reply to LucaC:

> I have twice witnessed ground falls (one at a gym, one outside) when inexperienced belayers have kept the cam of a grigri held down during a fall and lost control of the rope. Both times were the belayers first time of using a grigri. 

>  

> I’ve also seen a ground fall when lowering a leader and the handle of the grigri was pulled fully back and control of the rope was lost.

I wonder if this is unique to climbing. Inexperienced, even first time users, of a device commonly using it in a life critical situation of another person without reasonable practice. Would this happen in recreational aviation for example?

 David Coley 22 May 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> I do believe however that they are more succeptable to incorrect use than some other devices e.g. Click-Up and standard plates. I'm not aware that there have been any studies in that regard so it is unfair to imply that I am ignoring real evidence in favour of anecdotes.

Not really evidence, but some logic based on my earlier comment.  The vast bulk of falls around the world are on sports routes, and  around the world most sports belaying is on grigris. I don't have any data, but I'd be surprised if there was not 1000 falls or lowers (another common fact of sport climbing) on a grigri for each 1 on a plate. Therefore if there has been even a few incidents with plates (and there have), we should see thousands, not a similar number, with grigris. 

If grigris were not many times safer, per fall or lower, across all user groups, there really would stand out as being the cause of 1000s of more incidents. 

Post edited at 22:20
3
In reply to David Coley:

Absolutely and that is one of the problems with stats.  They require background and context and these are often missing. I can see the benefits of a GriGri whilst acknowledging their weaknesses which they undoubtedly have. I have some experience of recreational flying, rigorous testing and licensing reduce the risk of error significantly but I would not like to see such formalities applied to climbing.

 HeMa 23 May 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

You don't really need statistics for that.

You simply need an analytical approach, identify the failure modes and assess.

I'll get the ball started (in no particular order).

1. Not keeping the dead end in hand when climbing-> assisted lock feature MIGHT not engage and the climber is dropped... Comparison to Tube, well the climber is dropped 100% of time (unless the rope happens to kink and get caught in the tube, or something). --> Assisted breaking devices are safer in this aspect.

2. Loosing control of the the climber when lowering -> regular GriGris will not help, but AFAIK GriGri+ and GriGri3 have the safety-feature (akin to old Petzl I'D). If the user lets go of the device, autolock might engage... Comparison to Tube, nada... albeit Tube do not even have a "safer" option available. Letting go of the device will not help --> No real difference, considering how people often behave in such situations... they freeze and thus continue to hold the positions/grip etc. they did when they realized what was happening.

3. Paying out rope incorrectly -> If you let go of the dead end and keep the cam pressed open with your thumb, the climber will deck if the happen to fall. Letting go of the device will likely engage the assisted break mode, so lock... Comparison to Tube, if you pay out slack and keep both hands "up" (so minimum friction) and the climber falls, impulse might be enough to get too much slippage and burn the brakehands resulting in a ground fall. Similar result of letting go from the dead end due to bad practice. --> If done incorrectly, both will end with a crater on the ground. But if hands are off the rope/device, GriGri is likely to stop the fall, a tube is not.

3. UX perspective. How intuitive are the devices to use properly, as can be seen, all cases are due to user error really. This is the big question.... If you're used to belaying with a tube, then GriGri will be more "fiddly", or that is how it feels... but looking at those that have no experience, burden of history and practice. They are actually more or less the same to learn (this is based on roughly 10 years of teaching/doing climbing courses). The only big difference is, that a GriGri will most likely stop an accident, if you let go of it with both hands (and from the rope). Not so, with a tube (or non assisted breaking devices).


N.b. I use the orig. GriGris and GriGri2s a lot (plus assorted tube/atc and even belayplate devices). And with both GriGri's I can actually pay out slack the exact same way I do with an ATC.... in fact, often smoother as my ATC Guide is quite catchy still. So in fact I did not need to "re-learn" anything as I did start climbing before GriGri was even made. All it has taken, is to be observant and watch the climber, so you don't get surprised when they need a buttload of slack to clip.

 meggies 23 May 2022

Just watch this Petzl vid:

youtube.com/watch?v=FHdqjjyeTtg&

In reply to David Coley:

> I wonder if this is unique to climbing. Inexperienced, even first time users, of a device commonly using it in a life critical situation of another person without reasonable practice. Would this happen in recreational aviation for example?

Less likely, but then you'd end up in a situation where people had to spend months if not years getting a "climbing licence", and I'm not sure that's sensible.

I'd say much of the regulation around private aviation has more to do with what an errant aircraft might hit than the person sitting in it, just like car driving licences.  A bad belayer might drop their partner, but is very unlikely to do anything to anyone else in the vast majority of cases.

What we would do well to adopt from aviation is some of the culture, such as that of openly sharing details of incidents and investigating and discussing them and how they could be avoided.  Generally the climbing community seems to be rather against this, but if you go to PPRuNe or another similar forum you see far more in-depth discussion when something bad happens than you do here.

Post edited at 09:09
In reply to David Coley:

> The vast bulk of falls around the world are on sports routes, and  around the world most sports belaying is on grigris.

The first assertion might well be correct but I have no idea about the second. I climbed for a long time in Finland, grigris weren't particularly common, probably because of cost and weight as much as anything else, this is despite there being sports routes on almost every crag, many crags being all or predominantly sport, and almost everyone climbing on single ropes. Considering there are lots of alternative assisted devices for both single ropes and that take single and double ropes, from US, German, Italian and French brands beyond Petzl, it seems unlikely Petzl have a near monopoly on the market.

2
 Fellover 23 May 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> That would be fair comment if I was saying that the GriGri was more dangerous than any other device and stating that as fact.  I wasn't and I don't believe they are.

Good good

> I do believe however that they are more succeptable to incorrect use than some other devices e.g. Click-Up and standard plates. I'm not aware that there have been any studies in that regard so it is unfair to imply that I am ignoring real evidence in favour of anecdotes.

Fair enough, I can appreciate that "Grigri's are more susceptible to incorrect use than other belay devices" is a different position to "Grigri's are more dangerous than other belay devices".

Having said that, it is surely the case that every belaying/lowering accident happens as a result of incorrect use of a belay device? We know that belay devices work if they are used correctly. So from the data in the linked study that there are fewer accidents involving Grigri's than tube type devices (normalised as relevant) it must follow that there are more cases of incorrect use of tube type devices which lead to accidents, than incorrect use of Grigri's which lead to accidents (again, normalised as relevant). I think this counts as "real evidence".

Of course there could be cases of incorrect use of Grigri's that don't lead to accidents which didn't make it into the linked study, but frankly if nothing bad happened due to the incorrect use it can't be that much of a problem!

Post edited at 11:23
 wbo2 23 May 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:  Then I apologise - there are threads on here every few months where gri'gri's are cast as the work of the devil, and much more dangerous than simple tube devices 'because' .  These are usually pretty data free and rely on some not so objective data.  The only data I've seen is the DAV study and Jim Titt thinks that's a bit ropey so....  Personally I saw someone land on the ground on rope stretch last week and they were using a GriGri, though the real problem was that the climber climbed till the first bolt was by his foot ,  and then fell off.... 

What's your rationale for using a clickup? My only complaint is feeding rope, and I think that's lack of practice on my part.    Personally I'm using a Giga Jul as I want an assisted device, and I wanted to use a single device for sport, trad, winter, double ropes as well and also potential for guide mode. 

Grigri's are very common here, comfortably number 1 assisted device.   Number 2 is probably an Ederid something, followed by BD, and everything else is only minor numbers.

Post edited at 11:34
In reply to wbo2:

Apology accepted.

I like the Click-Up because it's similar to a regular plate device when paying out rope and taking in but has the added benefit of having failsafe characteristics, at least as failsafe as any of these devices can be. It's also smaller, less mechanically complex and feels better in the hand (that's a personal thing though) You don't have to hold it in a special/different way to a regular plate in order to pay out rope. As far as I am aware it does not have the problem of failing to lock when a light load is applied slowly.  I have personally experienced this when belaying a child.

I had a GriGri when they first came out.  I bought it with the distinct impression it was a "handsfree" device and marketed as such but I may be wrong on that.  I used it incorrectly, holding it in the left hand and paying out the live rope with the right.  EVERYONE I saw during it's early days did it this way until word got around that this was unsafe. The modified grip, which I believe was proposed by climbers and not Petzl always felt a bit cack handed to me but Petzl did modify the design to accommodate it.  In some ways this could be taken as an admission that the intial design had issues.  But then that IS how products evolve.

Post edited at 11:57
 Cobra_Head 23 May 2022
In reply to wbo2:

> Well the only stats produced say they're safer, even despite the misuse.   Of courese it's important to not use any actual data and base your assessment on hearsay and 'my mate saw' stories

> I'd bear in mind misuse of a tube device, also common, will have some undesirable outcomes tho' the fashion (and that's what it is) is to brush them under the carpet.

That's as maybe, BUT if you've been climbing for 20+ years and the number of accidents you've witnessed contradicts the actual data, by quite a long way, then how do you reconcile that?

I've seen a few tube accidents, all preventable, I've seen at least twice as many gri gri accidents, usually people panicking and pulling the lever back.

Training would probably fix this, but I don't know how much, or little, training the people have had. It's not really something you do, interview people who've just dropped their friend down the wall.

So thanks again for the thread, but it's not really convincing when it goes against my own experience by so much.

Gri-gris are expensive, and of limited use when trad climbing. That's one reason I've not got one.

5
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> That's as maybe, BUT if you've been climbing for 20+ years and the number of accidents you've witnessed contradicts the actual data, by quite a long way, then how do you reconcile that?

> I've seen a few tube accidents, all preventable, I've seen at least twice as many gri gri accidents, usually people panicking and pulling the lever back.

> Training would probably fix this, but I don't know how much, or little, training the people have had. It's not really something you do, interview people who've just dropped their friend down the wall.

Probably no correct training at all. Pulling the lever all the way back on its own does not drop anyone. Lowering people off by using the lever and not holding onto the dead rope is wrong use of the GriGri. You can hold the lever all the way back and lower people normally feeding the rope through with your other hand, it is basically a regular belay plate when the cam is down, albeit with pretty low friction.

What these people did is let go of the rope, and that is no different whether you use a GriGri or a regular belay plate.

The issue with the GriGri is that it allows incorrect use to mostly work, until it doesn't, it doesn't drop people when used as a tube device with an auto lock.

Post edited at 12:20
2
 jimtitt 23 May 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> That's as maybe, BUT if you've been climbing for 20+ years and the number of accidents you've witnessed contradicts the actual data, by quite a long way, then how do you reconcile that?

Easy.

Your real name is Jonah and you climb in areas heavily used by the incompetent

I've been climbing 50 years and never seen anyone dropped, that is anectdote not data, same as your experience.

1
 David Coley 23 May 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

>> I wonder if this is unique to climbing. Inexperienced, even first time users, of a device commonly using it in a life critical situation of another person without reasonable practice. Would this happen in recreational aviation for example?

> Less likely, but then you'd end up in a situation where people had to spend months if not years getting a "climbing licence", and I'm not sure that's sensible.

I wasn't really suggesting we adopted a licence, but more pondering some behaviour that I have always seen as a bit strange and possibly unique to climbing. It is quite common for someone to be given a belay device or something else and get right on with the job. And both parties to be happy with the lack of practice. Basically a - I'm sure I can work this out, and it will probably be okay view - and I wonder if we would be like this on other activities? To me this really does seem bizarre. 

This doesn't just apply to belay devices, but techniques and other equipment. May be it is just deep in our cultural identity: that looks like a big mountain, not done one of those, shall we see what happens....

 Joas 23 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

In November 2021 I was dropped from a height of 9 1/2 meters with my belayer (It was my first time at that gym and I didn't know him before) using a Mammut Smart. Broke my second lumber vertebrae, spend a week in hospital and couldnt't do sports for more than 3 Months.

The rope ran straight though the belay device, but the belayer didn't have any burnmarks on his hand. The police report states that it was human failure and not mechanical failure. We still don´t know the mistake that was made and the belayer refuses to talk about it.
I did the partner check, I saw him belay before, and I know the device (I am an RCI, so I am used to checking everything). He also caught me twice on the same route just before. The third time it was an unexpected fall and I couldn't warn him. I kept falling and hit the ground. I am lucky to be alive.

I haven't been back climbing since.

I was never afraid of heights, I am now.

And I am never gonna climb with someone who only caught expected falls. It's a big must for every climber and belayer to practise unecpected falls.

1
In reply to Joas:

> And I am never gonna climb with someone who only caught expected falls. It's a big must for every climber and belayer to practise unecpected falls.

How on earth do you practice unexpected falls? That's an oxymoron if ever I heard one

9
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

Well, I guess you could belay blindfolded, or looking away from the climber and have them take some intentional falls, without warning. I'd want a big pile of pads underneath to practice though!

In reply to midgen:

Here is an idea.  Everytime you go out climbing warn your belayer that you want to practice catching unexpected falls.  Even though you have no intention of doing so.

Post edited at 14:58
5
 Holdtickler 23 May 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

Easy to simulate belaying on the ground without the climber's feet actually leaving the ground.

 David Coley 23 May 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> How on earth do you practice unexpected falls? That's an oxymoron if ever I heard one

I do exactly this when teaching belaying. Climbing wall. Belayer looking the other way, body to the side. Peaked cap on. No warning. Lead falls. Belayer has no idea if the climber is pulling up or clipping or falling, or the size of the fall, when the rope initially moves. I distract the belayer with conversation. You should see them sweat, even if they have climbed for 20 years. 

Very experienced back up belayer and grigri downstream. 

3
 Joas 23 May 2022
In reply to David Coley:

Yep, thats one way of doing it. But only with a back up.

If it's just the two of you, tell your belayer that you will just jump off at any time. It's not totally unexpected, but the belayer has to keep an eye on you the entire time because you could even fall while resting.

 Cobra_Head 24 May 2022
In reply to Alkis:

> What these people did is let go of the rope, and that is no different whether you use a GriGri or a regular belay plate.

except it is VERY different, especially people's expectations, many people, wrongly think, gri gris are "safe". There's more to think about than tube belaying, I've SEEN people panic and I've seen the results. I've seen this with both tubes and gri gris. My point was I've seen more gri gri accidents.

Telling me what I already know, that someone f*cked up doesn't change that.

> The issue with the GriGri is that it allows incorrect use to mostly work, until it doesn't, it doesn't drop people when used as a tube device with an auto lock.

Not the point I was making though.

4
 Cobra_Head 24 May 2022
In reply to jimtitt:

> Easy.

> Your real name is Jonah and you climb in areas heavily used by the incompetent

> I've been climbing 50 years and never seen anyone dropped, that is anectdote not data, same as your experience.

I got dropped, actually pulled off and dropped, by one of the most experienced belayers in our club, an exquisite series of circumstances, that ended with me taking a 8m fall and him burning a hole in his hand. I was OK enough to get back on the route, when we'd bothed calmed down. He'd always been my belayer of choice, if I was about to do something tenuous.

Of course it's anecdotal, but the post above to the data, was in German, which I don't read of speak, so I have no idea of their methods or their data.

The point of my post was MY personal experience, mainly climbing in the UK for one, is very different, it doesn't mean what I've witnessed is wrong, or out of the ordinary. It just doesn't support the OPs post.

At least one of the accidents I witnessed would have happened with either device, it just so happens it was a gri gri at the time. No not in the rope, lowering someone down a route more than half the length of rope! So I'd count this as operator error, but it would still be a gri gri accident.

2

> except it is VERY different, especially people's expectations, many people, wrongly think, gri gris are "safe". There's more to think about than tube belaying, I've SEEN people panic and I've seen the results.

There only is more to think about if you are incorrectly trained. I would not trust a belayer that cannot safely belay with their belay device of choice with ANY belay device. That said it doesn't help that I watched a guide teach incorrect GriGri technique two days ago at Masson Lees.

> I've seen this with both tubes and gri gris. My point was I've seen more gri gri accidents.

And as a counterpoint I've seen way more regular tube accidents in the past 15 years of climbing. Same way, by letting go of the dead rope. I have been dropped from the top of Awesome Walls Sheff by an experienced belayer using an ATC when the rope slipped through his hands and burnt him enough to let go, only not getting hurt because he jumped on the pile of rope.

With the GriGri there is a good chance that a belayer's failure will be caught. Without the cam there is zero chance it will be caught. 

> Telling me what I already know, that someone f*cked up doesn't change that.

No, but it is 100% anecdotal. I have been caught multiple times by laughable micronuts, should I start questioning the statistics used to calculate their strength? :-P

1
In reply to Alkis:

You are dismissing anecdotal evidence out of hand, it is still evidence especially if it is first hand.  Stats can be misleading and may be presented out of context and with an agenda.  Statistically I have more chance of being injured or killed on the road than whilst climbing.  Despite that more than 20 personal friends have been killed climbing but I don't know a single person killed in a road accident. If you were me would you believe the stats or the personal experience?

Post edited at 11:28
1
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

I am not dismissing it, I am merely pointing out that taking leaps of faith such as "I know 5 people that were injured due to GriGri failure and none with tube failure hence the GriGri is more dangerous", when literally the next person in the thread has the exact opposite experience (I could recount at least 5 belay accidents, the most recent two month ago, and none were using a GriGri) is plainly a mistake.

Post edited at 11:32
In reply to Alkis:

That's fair enough but in that context what about the second half of my post?

In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

Similar really. In my quite large extended circle there has been one death of a friend's partner that I know of and many car accidents (although none of them deadly). It's exceedingly difficult to come up with overall statistics of climbing safety that can meaningfully apply to all situations. If your circle is comprised of people that do high altitude mountaineering and top-end death route development I'd expect the statistics to be very different to someone whose circle is people that mainly do single pitch cragging of sport routes and up to low extremes. Both the 20 deaths in one circle, the 1 death in another circle and the zero deaths in a much larger circle are part of the overall statistics.

My previous car got written off when someone crashed into the back of me at the Chesterfield  A617 roundabout lights, while I was driving to Burbage, although I wouldn't really argue that the drive there was more dangerous than the /specific activity/ I was planning on doing that day (mid-E headpointing).

Post edited at 11:52
In reply to Alkis:

All well and good and you will not get any disagreement from me but if you were me, and I'm taking climbing to include all disciplines, which would you consider to be the most dangerous activity?  Driving or climbing?  My experience says climbing i.e. anecdotal, but the stats say driving.  We can't both be right. 

Let me phrase this a little differently.  In this context which would you base your behaviour on the anecdotal evidence or the statistical evidence?

Post edited at 12:23
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

But I suspect we can both be right, if I and my circle mainly partake in safer subsets of climbing than you and your circle. Back on the actual topic however, there is a right and a wrong way to use the devices being discussed, so if someone's experience of their safety is very different than the average then there is some worryingly poor practice not being challenged as it should.

I remember having this discussion with Offwidth at the pub last year and it is pretty poor how some centres just let things pass that should be an instant "get trained how to belay properly or you're not allowed on the premises".

Post edited at 12:25
In reply to Alkis:

Perhaps.  I suspect that I am slightly more cynical of stats and their use than you are.

I feel obliged to mount this defence because earlier in the thread someone made a sarcastic comment about trusting anedote over stats and I feel that there are times when anecdotal evidence is reliable.

For the record and to be clear I consider climbing to be far more dangerous than driving so in this instance I am trusting the anecdotal evidence rather than the stats and I wondered where you would stand if you were in my position. I agree that ambitious climbing is more dangerous than casual climbing and I always considered myself as ambitious in the 55 years I have climbed. Myself and most of my peers were not quite A team but we were biting at their heels in trad rock, ice and alpine disciplines.

Post edited at 13:01
3
 Cobra_Head 24 May 2022
In reply to Alkis:

> I am not dismissing it, I am merely pointing out that taking leaps of faith such as "I know 5 people that were injured due to GriGri failure and none with tube failure hence the GriGri is more dangerous",

No one is saying that, though are they?

You seem to be implying I'm saying that, but I'm not!

I'm relating my experiences.

And it's not about who I climb with, the accidents I've witnessed, besides the one I was involved with, have all been people I don't know, usually at an indoor wall.

Post edited at 14:50
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> No one is saying that, though are they?

> You seem to be implying I'm saying that, but I'm not!

> I'm relating my experiences.

Quoting your original post:

> That's as maybe, BUT if you've been climbing for 20+ years and the number of accidents you've witnessed contradicts the actual data, by quite a long way, then how do you reconcile that? I've seen a few tube accidents, all preventable, I've seen at least twice as many gri gri accidents, usually people panicking and pulling the lever back. So thanks again for the thread, but it's not really convincing when it goes against my own experience by so much.

It sounded to me like you are saying that your experiences mean that you are not convinced that GriGris are safer. Apologies if that's not what you meant by that post, that's how I read it and that's the context for my subsequent replies.

> And it's not about who I climb with, the accidents I've witnessed, besides the one I was involved with, have all been people I don't know, usually at an indoor wall.

I'm not suggesting it's people you know, I'm suggesting it's the wall you go to. Some (perhaps even most? 😬) are truly dire with challenging poor practice.

Post edited at 15:08
 Snyggapa 24 May 2022
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> Statistically I have more chance of being injured or killed on the road than whilst climbing.  Despite that more than 20 personal friends have been killed climbing but I don't know a single person killed in a road accident. If you were me would you believe the stats or the personal experience?

I suspect that the stats, damned lies and statistics comes into play here, I would like to see them.

My guess. As a random individual then you are more likely to be killed or maimed in a driving accident than a climbing accident, but that doesn't take into account the enormous disproportionate number of people who drive but don't climb. 

As a climber, I would suggest that the odds are reversed. Maybe if it was measured based on hours undertaking each activity then a more meaningful comparison would be had, but an average person at say 10,000. Miles per year would be spending say 300 hours driving per year, and there might be 10 million of those in the UK so 3000 million hours driving per year, leading to x deaths. How many climbers would be killed in 3 billion hours of activity?

 Cobra_Head 25 May 2022
In reply to Alkis:

> Quoting your original post:

> It sounded to me like you are saying that your experiences mean that you are not convinced that GriGris are safer. Apologies if that's not what you meant by that post, that's how I read it and that's the context for my subsequent replies.

No worries, I was trying to point out that my experience was different to the data, that was all, and that for many people real life experience will be hard to shift to the polar opposite.

> I'm not suggesting it's people you know, I'm suggesting it's the wall you go to. Some (perhaps even most? 😬) are truly dire with challenging poor practice.

that was a reply to someone else's comment. We use a number of different walls, so you're probably right.

One possibility, is it's harder to see what people are doing wrong with grigris, and like I said the issue seems to be people panicking and doing the wrong thing, rather than doing it wrong in the first place.

My preference for tubes is that they do everything, sport, trad, ice, twin ropes, singles, top roping bringing people up, and abseiling. All the same action, nothing different to learn, simple and effective. You learn it once, it's transferable to every scenario.

That doesn't stop people fucjking it up though or just being lazy, I spotted my mate doing something daft last night, he's been climbing for 40+ years!! That was a tube type, so no one is immune.

 Nutty 25 May 2022
In reply to Snyggapa:

They aren't maybe the most up-to-date stats, but a quick look at the risks given in appendix 4 of the HSEs "Reducing Risks, Protecting People" gives the risk of death for road accidents as being 1 in 1,432,000 km travelled and the risk of death for rock climbing as 1 in 320,000 climbs. You can do your own calculations based on your annual number of climbs and your annual road travel kilometres.

 HeMa 25 May 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> No worries, I was trying to point out that my experience was different to the data, that was all, and that for many people real life experience will be hard to shift to the polar opposite.

I’ve seen a Lada Niva overtake a Lamborghini Gallardo… ergo Niva is faster than a Gallardo. True or False?

 Cobra_Head 25 May 2022
In reply to HeMa:

> I’ve seen a Lada Niva overtake a Lamborghini Gallardo… ergo Niva is faster than a Gallardo. True or False?

In that instance yes, obviously true, what else could it be?

Read my post.

Post edited at 17:58
In reply to Gaston Rubberpants:

> Despite that more than 20 personal friends have been killed climbing but I don't know a single person killed in a road accident. If you were me would you believe the stats or the personal experience?

The stats. So do you, unless you are saying that you don’t believe that car accidents kill people.

The stats say there are more Indian people in the world than English people. I’ve met loads more English people than Indians. Who do you believe? Me or the stats?

Post edited at 18:59
2
 HeMa 25 May 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

I did. And based on your personal experience, you extrapolate that to be globally True. 
 

so are Lada Nivas always faster than a Gallardos? Obviously not, Niva can do perhaps 150 km/h and Gallardo a lot more. So my experience and observation is not really worth a damn. The difference is datapoint vs. dataset. Your observstions are datapoints, not the dataset.

And as I wrote earlier, I’n not aware of any critical belaydevice failure accident, when the device is being used correctly. So, let’s think about incorrect use of the devices. Belay a leader without holding the dead end. Which will more likely end up in an accident, if done so with and ATC or GriGri? Hint, unless you manage to get a nice kink in the tope, with and ATC the crater is almost guarenteed. With GriGri, there is a high propability of GriGri stopping the fall. Which is ”Safer”?

1
In reply to HeMa:

I feel that your argument trivialises the 'used correctly' bit.

To take it to the fringes, where most arguments are most successfully examined: if there existed a belay device that could legitimately claim to be 100% safe if used correctly - but required a degree in computational physics to operate - would it be more or less safe than an ATC?

Human error is unavoidable, sadly, and sensible designs recognise this and attempt to mitigate it. I feel that the argument isn't that the GriGri is intrinsically unsafe, but that it has an unintuitive method of operation which becomes unsafe given enough average climbers.

 Ian Patterson 25 May 2022
In reply to Nutty:

> They aren't maybe the most up-to-date stats, but a quick look at the risks given in appendix 4 of the HSEs "Reducing Risks, Protecting People" gives the risk of death for road accidents as being 1 in 1,432,000 km travelled and the risk of death for rock climbing as 1 in 320,000 climbs. You can do your own calculations based on your annual number of climbs and your annual road travel kilometres.

First look this feels unlikely - risk of death, 1 climb is equivalent to travelling 4 or 5 km on the road?  Checking the document referenced the road accidents figure is risk of injury while the climbing figure is risk of death - obvs very different.  

 carl dawson 25 May 2022

Whilst we're talking belay device anecdotes, here's some more. However, after 57 years of belaying, only four incidents are relevant, the rest were quite unnewsworthy.

Anecdote #1 Belaying the late Phil Bond on Virgin’s Dilemma back in the mid ‘60s, using a waist belay. Catching the fall from the top was uncomfortable and yet it worked.

Conclusion: even waist belays, with attention, worked.

Anecdote #2 Being belayed whilst top-roping Scale the Dragon by someone using a Tuber or something similarly traditional. Ground fall. Broken heels. “You’ll never walk on rough ground again” said the surgeon.

Conclusion: traditional belay devices, used sloppily, don’t work.

Anecdote #3 Belaying indoors at the Foundry, in the early 90s, using the ‘original’ method with a Gri-gri (left-hand holding lever down, paying out rope with right hand). Leader falls from the top and goes10m before the error dawns on me and I grab the tail (sorry Dave). Scary, educational, but no ground fall fortunately.

Conclusion: incorrect use of Gri-gri doesn’t work.

Anecdote #4 Belaying on some coastal crag, stood on some big pointy very jagged boulders. Leader falls and I’m catapulted face first into the boulders… and leave go of the Gri-gri (oh! the guilt). But the leader stops quickly and safely.

Conclusion: Using the right technique, or even no technique, the Gri-gri works.

 HeMa 25 May 2022
In reply to tehmarks:

> I feel that your argument trivialises the 'used correctly' bit.

Of course. But the fact still stand, ATC and GriGri are both safe enough If used correctly.

the other has additional safetymeasures for some cases when used incorrectly. The other does not. So simply based on that, one is safer than the other… and now we look past mechanics and roll more into the realm of behavior which I think are the real reason people think GriGris are less safe. As they allow a more lax approach, even experienced belayers will get a false sense of security. And mistakes start to happen.

so the added safety of the device actually means you pay less attention and are perhaps more prone to get in an accident. The classic example of this idea would be to ban driver airbags and seatbelts, but add a great spike in the middle of the steering wheel.

I’m still gonna say, seatbelts and airbag are safer .

1
 Snyggapa 25 May 2022
In reply to Nutty:

I agree with Ian Patterson above, I don't think those are the same metric.

https://www.racfoundation.org/motoring-faqs/mobility

2019 in the UK 356 billion vehicle miles were driven, so roughly a billion miles a day. If that 1 death per 1.4m km was true then there would be 1000 deaths a day. I can believe 1000 accidents but not 1000 deaths so something is out of line.

 Uncle Derek 26 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

I would say the best thing is for belayers to STFU and pay attention when belaying. Far too much chatting at the wall, and sport climbing generally, and not enough paying attention. 
I use a click Up, the early one as I did not like the 2, I found it locked up whilst paying out. I use it because it works like an ATC, which I am familiar with, but is better for sport, because it locks up for resting and working moves.
I have never used a GriGri, because I have been told that an inexperienced belayer can panic, and want to do something during a fall, and pull the lever. How true that is, I have no idea, but the Click Up works for me, so as I am stupid, I keep it simple.
But I  really do think there is far too much talking, particularly during the tying in phase, so shut up, and buddy check.
And whilst belaying, shut up and watch your leader, or if you want a chat, go to the Café.

2
In reply to Uncle Derek:

> I would say the best thing is for belayers to STFU and pay attention when belaying. Far too much chatting at the wall, and sport climbing generally, and not enough paying attention. 

> But I  really do think there is far too much talking, particularly during the tying in phase, so shut up, and buddy check.

> And whilst belaying, shut up and watch your leader, or if you want a chat, go to the Café.

This is absolutely spot on.

1
In reply to carl dawson:

> Anecdote #4 Belaying on some coastal crag, stood on some big pointy very jagged boulders. Leader falls and I’m catapulted face first into the boulders… and leave go of the Gri-gri (oh! the guilt). But the leader stops quickly and safely.   Conclusion: Using the right technique, or even no technique, the Gri-gri works. <

An incident proving how a Grigri could save the day when a non-assisted device or method would likely not do so, though the incident was avoidable anyway. Of course a host of methods, including waist belay and tube, could be safe if  the belayer was simply correctly positioned. Speaking as someone who has made the same mistake and still sees plenty of instances of same.

 Cobra_Head 26 May 2022
In reply to HeMa:

> I did. And based on your personal experience, you extrapolate that to be globally True. 

If you think the above statement is true, then you either have difficulty understanding the written word, or you didn't read my post(s).

Post edited at 19:07
 Cobra_Head 27 May 2022
In reply to HeMa:

> I’m still gonna say, seatbelts and airbag are safer .

But you have no data for the "Big Spike"

 HeMa 27 May 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

Let’s try. We’ll do the NCAP front collion test. You can have the spike. I’ll use a seatbelt and a car with a än airbag.

 jezb1 27 May 2022
In reply to John Workman:

To paraphrase Goldie Looking Chain..

GriGris don’t kill people, knobbers do.

 Cobra_Head 27 May 2022
In reply to HeMa:

> Let’s try. We’ll do the NCAP front collion test. You can have the spike. I’ll use a seatbelt and a car with a än airbag.

Still without data, you're making a massive assumption. Maybe the presence of the spike makes everyone be ultra careful and accidents become a thing of the past.

 jimtitt 27 May 2022
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> Still without data, you're making a massive assumption. Maybe the presence of the spike makes everyone be ultra careful and accidents become a thing of the past.

>

But we know this isn't the case, after the introduction of collapsible (energy absorbing) steering columns in the late 60's people didn't think "it's safe so I'll drive like a nutter", they saved 1200 lives and 23, 000 severe injuries per year in the USA alone. Clearly that the old 'spear in the chest' was known to be dangerous hadn't restrained people before.

In reply to Nutty:

> They aren't maybe the most up-to-date stats, but a quick look at the risks given in appendix 4 of the HSEs "Reducing Risks, Protecting People" gives the risk of death for road accidents as being 1 in 1,432,000 km travelled and the risk of death for rock climbing as 1 in 320,000 climbs. You can do your own calculations based on your annual number of climbs and your annual road travel kilometres.

If 1 in 320,000 climbs was true for indoor climbing there'd be people dying at Ratho every couple of months.

100 people x 6 climbs per hour x 8 hours per day = 4,800 climbs per day


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