GriGri’s are an extremely useful tool, and not just in a single pitch environment. In the past I was a firm believer in leaving Gri’s on the ground and preferred to take an ATC up walls. However, when I did my AMGA Single Pitch Instructor course my eyes were opened to the benefits that the GriGri offers. Here are just a few reasons why the GriGri is an essential piece of equipment to always keep on your harness.
- They are functional belay devices that have an assisted brake.
- Belaying from the top off the anchor is simplified, and you can haul easily.
- There are less opportunities to drop your ATC.
- Ascending fixed and loaded lines safely with multiple back ups in the system.
The one drawback I’ve encountered with the GriGri on multipitch climbs is that in order to load the device it must be removed from the carabiner. The ATC has a plastic tether loop that my a rule of thumb never leaves the locker. However, there is a solution to this problem, and allows for hands free loading, or at least loading without the fear of dropping a GriGri 800 ft. to the ground.
- Petzl makes a locking carabiner called the Freino. This is a great device in that it has a separate gated section that allows for a tether. I should add that I did not learn how to do this modification from Petzl, nor was I instructed by the company that manipulation of the device was acceptable.
- The GriGri has a screw on in just underneath the break lever. Take this screw out, and flip open the steel plate as if you were to load the rope, and notice that you can flex the plastic back. Flex the plastic back and find the open area that will fit a barrel knot on the end of a 3mm accessory cord.
- Punch a hole through that plastic cover. A drywall screw and a drill will work just fine, but just be careful not to punch through the other side of the compartment.
- Fish the cord through the hole so that the barrel knot will fit in the open space that the plastic cover hides. Be sure to leave plenty of cord for an overhand on a bite. Consider the slack necessary to remove the device from the carabiner without having to struggle with tension from the tether. Tighten the screw back in immediately so that you don’t forget and lose it.
- Tie your overhand on a bite and place it within the extra gated compartment located on the spine of the Petzl Freino carabiner.
- This is what your finished product should look like, and the tether will not be reasonably functional if it’s any shorter than the one pictured here.
I’d suggest being mindful how you handle this carabiner. What I’m suggesting is making the portion of the carabiner that has the tether enclosed off limits. The gate pushes in easily if not attentive, and this will result in the tether potentially slipping out. I operate the freino by holding it with my fingers between the spine and the wire gate, and operating the twist lock function with my thumb.
Practice loading up the device, and get familiar with the the functionality. I’d also suggest, again, to keep the cord a bit longer than mine. Extra tether is never a bad thing, just obnoxious if too long. Notice the overhand resting on the gate. Probably not ideal, and I’ll make a longer tether so that it won’t walk in the wire gate portion of the Freino.
Climb safe out there. I hope that this helps, and if in doubt just stick with the manufacturer recommendations, because this strays far from. However, I do know how to read a tape measure, and it’s gotten me through life without getting myself or anyone else killed, so I trust this engineering with my life. I also learned this modification from professional climbing guides–plural.