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PSA: Use the SMALL side of a Gridlock biner with your GriGri
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By Jon H
From Boulder
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





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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
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.

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By Kirby
From DC
Jun 11, 2014
But, the regular mammut smart is ok in the normal (big-side-on-device) orientation?

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By DrApnea
From Wenatchee, WA
Jun 11, 2014
So the carabiner created to fix a problem that didn't exist created a new problem. :/

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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
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.

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By mpech
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)?

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By Jon H
From Boulder
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.

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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
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.

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By Dan Cottle
Jun 11, 2014
The gridlock works perfectly fine with my mammut smart alpine

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By Anson Call
From Provo, UT
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.

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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
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.

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By Capt. Impatient
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.

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By Joe Platko
Jun 12, 2014
Hmmm. The problem does seem to exist (at least with some belay devices.) mountainproject.com/v/old-dogs...

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By bearbreeder
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

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By Joe Platko
Jun 13, 2014
Yes, the problem could have been prevented with a different biner.

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By Top Rope Hero
From Was Estes Park, now homeless
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.

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By Climb for joy
From Burlington, VT
2 days ago
This is great information! Thank you for posting it here! It just goes to show how if you don't scrutinize the manual of gear closely you can easily miss something important like this. Particularly since it is not written in words. And there is a lot of pictures to look through, four lines worth.

I have a friend at the gym that uses this combination of gear and I don't think he's ever mentioned that this has ever happened to him. But it makes sense to reduce risk and increase safety with just a slight change in gear setup.

Jon H wrote:
* 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.


I'd like to suggest that the Black Diamond Gridlock carabiner is actually not safe to use with the Mammut Alpine Smart Belay. What we found in the gym is that the smaller size and particularly the sharp curve going into the spine side of biner causes the Alpine Smart Belay to easily get caught and stuck on the corner pretty regularly. It doesn't drop the climber, at least with the 9.8mm gym ropes, but it often required the climber to take their weight off of the rope for the belayer to pull the Alpine Smart Belay off of the corner of the carabiner. If the climber is hanging in a void when that happens they may be stuck there.

I am very fond of the Mammut Element Smart HMS carabiner used with my Alpine Smart Belay. Although it has since been discontinued this year and replaced with the Crag Smart HMS which looks almost identical just in a terrible green color. This carabiner has always worked smoothly and flawlessly for me with the Alpine Smart Belay in addition to having a anti-cross loading arm on it and I highly recommend it.

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By gavinsmith
From Toronto, Ontario
1 day ago
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.

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By Jon H
From Boulder
1 day ago
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.

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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
1 day ago
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.

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By gavinsmith
From Toronto, Ontario
19 hours ago
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.

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By patto
18 hours ago
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.

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