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PSA: Use the SMALL side of a Gridlock biner with your GriGri
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Jun 11, 2014
At the matching crux
Public Service Announcement
I've been seeing more and more folks using Gridlock carabiners for belaying, which is great. I think the Gridlock is the absolute best belay biner out there*.

But, I've also been seeing plenty of people using it incorrectly.

If you use a GriGri or Cinch, the belay device must go in the SMALL side of the Gridlock. Otherwise, the carabiner gets cross loaded even easier than with a normal carabiner, and worse, it actually locks itself into the cross-loaded position.

See the following diagram from BD for explanation:
GriGri goes in the small side of a Gridlock
GriGri goes in the small side of a Gridlock


This is actually dangerous. A traditional carabiner in a cross-loaded orientation will usually rotate and "pop" back to normal, but a GriGri/Cinch in the improperly loaded as shown above is unable to pop back into place and it's within the realm of possibility (although unlikely) to subject it to sufficient force to break the carabiner.


*Exceptions I've found to my "Gridlock is best" rule include:
  • Don't use with Mammut Alpine Smart. It's not unsafe, but the device is pretty dang large and doesn't really fit in the Gridlock. Use Petzl William, BD Rocklock, or other very large, round-stock biner. They will feed much smoother.
  • Winter alpine climbing with long multi-pitch rappels while wearing heavy gloves. Gridlock is too "fiddly" and risk of dropping increases substantially. Swap out Gridlock for normal locking carabiner on the rappels




Jon H
From Boulder
Joined Nov 24, 2009
98 points
Jun 11, 2014
Thanks, Jon. It is still acceptable to use the Gridlock in either orientation (belay device on either large or small side) with a tube-style belay device, per BD. FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Joined Nov 19, 2009
130 points
Jun 11, 2014
But, the regular mammut smart is ok in the normal (big-side-on-device) orientation? Kirby
From DC
Joined Mar 5, 2010
31 points
Jun 11, 2014
So the carabiner created to fix a problem that didn't exist created a new problem. :/ DrApnea
From Wenatchee, WA
Joined May 24, 2011
191 points
Jun 11, 2014
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Pea...
I love the Gridlock, but with the sandy crap we climb here in the Springs lockers wear out ridiculously fast, so I went back to the $8 Black Diamond special. Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
1,508 points
Jun 11, 2014
I like Dr. Apnea's comment...

Has there ever been a belay biner failure from cross-loading (other than from rope-soloing falls)?
mpech
Joined Sep 8, 2013
26 points
Jun 11, 2014
At the matching crux
FrankPS wrote:
Thanks, Jon. It is still acceptable to use the Gridlock in either orientation (belay device on either large or small side) with a tube-style belay device, per BD.


Absolutely true.

Kirby wrote:
But, the regular mammut smart is ok in the normal (big-side-on-device) orientation?


Yup. The single-channel Smart fits into the Gridlock just fine.

DrApnea wrote:
So the carabiner created to fix a problem that didn't exist created a new problem. :/


Yup, basically :)


Stich wrote:
I love the Gridlock, but with the sandy crap we climb here in the Springs lockers wear out ridiculously fast, so I went back to the $8 Black Diamond special.


I never said they were cheap. They are on closeout on STP right now for only $12 though - find the right coupon and they can be had for $8 or $9.
Jon H
From Boulder
Joined Nov 24, 2009
98 points
Jun 11, 2014
Middle
Jon H wrote:
I think the Gridlock is the absolute best belay biner out there*.


My experience with the Gridlock and Rocklock are that they wear out MUCH faster than other carabiners on the market. The aluminum that BD uses seems a lot softer than equivalent HMS from other brands. I like the design but the implementation falls short.

Edelrid and Rock Exotica both make better captured HMS biners than BD. Neither of which require a PSA when using with a GriGri.
Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Joined Jul 23, 2010
130 points
Jun 11, 2014
The gridlock works perfectly fine with my mammut smart alpine Dan Cottle
Joined Jan 5, 2010
0 points
Jun 11, 2014
Profile pic
I had a magnetron gridlock. I loved it at first, but later decided that unlocking the gate two or three times (or holding it open with my finger) was too much trouble just to put someone on belay. I have since lost it, and probably won't buy another one.

PS, If you picked up said magnetron and a blue GG2 at the Sandy Momentum I still want at least the GriGri back. Thanks.
Anson Call
From Provo, UT
Joined Jan 12, 2010
44 points
Jun 11, 2014
This is true for pretty much all of the non-crossloading carabiners on the market- except DMM's and Metolius (i think), because you cant get the GriGri into the small end. I use Edelrid's version of it for setting at the gym and am glad I do. I use a regular locker for outside climbing, though. John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined Feb 1, 2004
2,395 points
Jun 12, 2014
Ok I don't remember how it was set up but in this video I watched on YouTube. The capture end of the gate broke on the climber and left it really sharp. Now it could just be a fluke but still... I couldn't find the video I will look later and try to put it up. Like I said though I don't remember if he put the grigri in the large or small end. Either way it is still the belayers responsibility to look down and try to make sure this doesn't happen with any carabiner. Let's climb smart out the folks. Capt. Impatient
Joined Jul 4, 2012
0 points
Jun 12, 2014
Hmmm. The problem does seem to exist (at least with some belay devices.) mountainproject.com/v/old-dogs... Joe Platko
Joined Aug 16, 2012
6 points
Jun 12, 2014
Joe Platko wrote:
Hmmm. The problem does seem to exist (at least with some belay devices.) mountainproject.com/v/old-dogs...


that problem could have been prevented with any 3 stage autolock biner ...

and honestly we couldnt replicate the problem in the better part of an hour trying to duplicate the setup ... everyone belays differently but we found it a bit odd that the brake strand was on the top of device , this twisted the belay loop when lowering/weighting the rope

also its generally good practice to place the gate on the opposite side of the brake hand to prevent the rope from rubbing on the gate ...and if its a 2 slot device to place the rope on the far slot away from the rope
bearbreeder
Joined Mar 1, 2009
2,153 points
Jun 13, 2014
Yes, the problem could have been prevented with a different biner. Joe Platko
Joined Aug 16, 2012
6 points
Apr 18, 2015
WHAT THE HELL IS HE BELAYING WITH!?!
Meh. This? This is another case of onna those things that isn't really a thing.

You CAN roll that Gri-Gri on over to the small side to prevent tragic cross loading. Sure you can.

Or? Or you can just, you know, pay attention and shit. If you're actually and actively belaying someone well, it's a pretty safe bet that you'll have a pretty good idea of what's going on with your belay setup. Yes, even if'n you're plastering your leader with an unwavering remora gaze, it's still quite easy to feel out what's happening in your crotch region. (And if not? Maybe you should go back to that part where I was suggesting you pay attention and shit...)

Jon H, you show it right there, in the diagram you cite from BD's own pamphlet. As I read it, BD's exclamation point means "pay attention and shit if'n you're gonna do it this way!" Whereas, they use ye ol' skull and crossbones for "if you do it THIS way, you're gonna die an awful, painful death." (See rest of pamphlet.)

As for "the carabiner gets cross loaded even easier than with a normal carabiner" and "it actually locks itself into the cross-loaded position," man I don't know what planet you are belaying on, but I find both these blanket, etched-in-stone assertions more than a bit suspect. I have been using the Gridlock--both the screw gate and the magnetron versions--with a Gri-Gri since they came out. For 200+ days a year. I know of this cross loading thing you're talking about. But a) I DON'T find that it's even remotely easier to cross load a Gridlock (again, NOT if'n you're paying attention) and b) I also don't find that it magically "locks" itself into place. In fact, I've found it quite amazingly easy to just use one of your hand thingys to just pop the Gri-Gri back into place. No grand UNlocking necessary.

Look. I'm not saying that using the small end of the Gri-Gri is in any way a bad idea. And I'm all for better instruction for better belaying.

But this just seems like a case of inventing a solution for a problem that doesn't actually really exist.
Top Rope Hero
From Was Estes Park, now homeless
Joined Jan 6, 2009
1,280 points
Apr 24, 2015
Me.
I got a Gridlock right before I started lead climbing in the gym years ago at the shop's staff member recommendation, and immediately defaulted to using the *large* side for the GriGri. I've been doing it ever since, almost exclusively in the gym since I don't usually use a GriGri outdoors.

I've never once cross loaded it, and I don't take any extra precaution. I would notice this happening. I also use the right-side rail on the GriGri to support it while belaying (without covering the cam), that may have something to do with it. Yes, I know that isn't the 'correct' technique, and yes I know Petzl tested the hell out of it and determined it's totally fine.
gavinsmith
From Toronto, Ontario
Joined Feb 23, 2014
37 points
Apr 24, 2015
At the matching crux
In the year since I've posted this thread, I've mostly stopped using my Gridlock. The damn thing is far too fiddly. It's irritating to have to flip it around twice each time you go on and off belay.

I've found that the Edelrid Strike Slider HMS is far superior for general GriGri use (if you want a biner that has a crossload-avoidance gate).

And for those of you somehow still clinging to the silly notion that "I've done it plenty of times and nothing has happened yet" - you're falling for the classic anecdotal fallacy - using a personal experience or an isolated example instead of sound reasoning or compelling evidence.

Both Petzl and BD warn that it's preferable to use the small side of Gridlock when belaying with a GriGri. When the GriGri is on the large side of a Gridlock, when the Gri slips into the crossloaded position (see image), it does NOT pop off under force. Why you insist on ignoring that is something of a puzzle.



Oh, and the Gridlock definitely shouldn't be ever used with a Smart Alpine. I was at the gym on lead when my belayer's Gridlock+Smart Alpine combo got horribly, hopelessly jammed. The wide device frame found juuuuust the right orientation to get wedged inside the carabiner. I was able to traverse over and grab another rope hanging next to me and tie in, and have another bystander lower me down. We couldn't get the belay device and biner unstuck without a screwdriver to leverage them apart.
Jon H
From Boulder
Joined Nov 24, 2009
98 points
Apr 24, 2015
Middle
I have been using a Rock Exotica Wire Eye HMS for the last year and a half and it is nothing short of perfect. There are few other HMS biners I like as much. Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Joined Jul 23, 2010
130 points
Apr 25, 2015
Me.
Jon H wrote:
And for those of you somehow still clinging to the silly notion that "I've done it plenty of times and nothing has happened yet" - you're falling for the classic anecdotal fallacy - using a personal experience or an isolated example instead of sound reasoning or compelling evidence.


You're absolutely correct.

I'll change my habit, in the gym or otherwise, until that biner is worn to death.

Thanks.
gavinsmith
From Toronto, Ontario
Joined Feb 23, 2014
37 points
Apr 25, 2015
Of course even cross loaded you would struggle to break a belay biner.

7kN crossload break strength. A 70kg climber would have to be accelerating at 10G!!! A those rates of acceleration there is a bigger risk of the climber passing out from high acceleration! :-D

Only real case where you'd be greatly concerned is on factor 2 falls.
patto
Joined Jul 9, 2012
0 points
May 1, 2015
WHAT THE HELL IS HE BELAYING WITH!?!
“…when the Gri [sic] slips into the crossloaded position…it does NOT pop off under force. Why you insist on ignoring that is something of a puzzle.”



Hmmmmmmm…OK. Fair enough, Jon H. I’ll unpack that for you a bit. In crayon speak.

To be clear, I actually never suggested that Gridlocks—once cross-loaded— easily popped off back to vertical. The point I made addressed preloading conditions only. Simply, that yes, perhaps your GriGri happened to roll off the working top end while in vigorous use. In THAT scenario—really, as that scenario is just beginning to play out—it’s all too easy to correct. But? I can see how I was misread. Forgive me.

But why ignore your already cross-loaded scenario? My reasons are four:

First, as mentioned elsewhere, the peak impact force needed to snap a Gridlock at the belay would likely mean you’ve got bigger problems than cross-loading.

Asymmetrical distribution of force, Jon. The energy generated in a fall dissipates unevenly along a climber’s chain of protection. A thing called the “average tension ratio” (Thanks, friction!) means that impact force on a belay device is in the neighborhood of about half of that generated at the climber. If a Clydesdale somehow managed to rope up and also take a fall factor 37 whip to produce that 14-ish kN force, her insides would likely become hamburger before you had to worry about cross-loading.

Secondly, let’s look at that bonehead of a belayer. As I stated, I know of this potential cross-loading thing. I’ve seen where it could, if the belayer was in a coma, happen. However, I argue again that it’s heroically easy to keep the Gridlock correctly oriented while using a GriGri. Just gotta pay attention. Anyone careless enough to defeat a Gridlock, well? I probably wouldn’t want to be climbing with them anyways.

Third: Something called the possibility vs. probability gap, or what insurance adjusters call the risk assessment engine. It’s possible that wearing a helmet while riding an escalator would prevent traumatic brain injury, right? You know, in case the steps were heavily greased with goose fat and gravity were subject to sudden, spastic fluctuations. But is that at all likely, Jon? (Is it likely that a totally careless belayer would let a Gridlock cross-load at precisely the exact moment when an orca took that once-in-a-millennium fall factor a-million fall? Let’s just say that I’m not gonna be wearing helmets at the mall anytime soon.)
.
Finally, the whole discussion of a locked GriGri is itself something of a red herring. If a fall did already “lock” the Gridlock into a cross-loaded position, then we can already logically presume that the carabiner itself did not fail. That it locked into a cross-loaded position is hella embarrassing, sure. But isn’t the point of all this that we’re worried about a compromised or broken Gridlock? Not just one with an odd-looking, locked (as you say) GriGri on it?

Four reasons, Jon. Some more solid than others. But argument enough that together, I’m juuuuuust not going to worry all that much about must using the GriGri on that small end of the carabiner.

Clear enough?
Top Rope Hero
From Was Estes Park, now homeless
Joined Jan 6, 2009
1,280 points
May 1, 2015
Orgasm Direct, Devil's Lake, 5.11a  c. 2008
Top Rope Hero wrote:
Third: Something called the possibility vs. probability gap, or what insurance adjusters call the risk assessment engine. It’s possible that wearing a helmet while riding an escalator would prevent traumatic brain injury, right? You know, in case the steps were heavily greased with goose fat and gravity were subject to sudden, spastic fluctuations. But is that at all likely, Jon?


Ooh, a chance to play rhetoric cop!

I know you're just using hyperbole, but it actually is not "possible" that gravity will be "subject to sudden, spastic fluctuations." We're in the real world here. Illustrate the point with actual implausible situations; not actually impossible ones. Your point will be stronger.

Anyhow, carry on.
Dylan B.
Joined Mar 31, 2006
487 points
May 1, 2015
Putting a GriGri in the small section of the gridlock is a no-brainer. I have no clue why anyone would even debate this obvious safety PSA. Bob Dobalina
Joined Jun 2, 2009
178 points
May 1, 2015
Top Rope Hero wrote:
Or you can just, you know, pay attention and shit.
Andrew P
Joined Aug 29, 2008
1 points
May 1, 2015
mpech wrote:
I like Dr. Apnea's comment... Has there ever been a belay biner failure from cross-loading (other than from rope-soloing falls)?


This is a good question that seems like it hasn't been answered yet.

And by failure I (can't speak for mpech) mean actually BREAKING the carabiner...I use those Petzl William biners that everyone except me hates because they're so tricky to unlock. I think the chances of the rope OPENING that type of locker (like in the BRC example above) are astronomically small.
Optimistic
From New Paltz
Joined Aug 29, 2007
246 points


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