The other day I was so desperate to go climbing, but I couldn't find a partner, so I ended up self belaying after googling and watching this video. I did check Petzl's site to learn that modifying Gri Gri and self belaying using it is prohibited.

I'm not a crazy, careless climber and when it comes to safety, I try to be as cautious as possible. I searched and read several threads on the topic, but yet, I'm not convinced why this isn't allowed.

Now a bit more detail on what I did: similar to the video, I tied myself in, and then attached the other end with Gri Gri to the belay loop. I only climbed a few really easy routs, so that I could be certain I can hold myself up while taking the slack, and did make knots in several points as I ascended.

I understand that Gri Gri is not an automatic device, but I have also never seen it failing (at least with the 9.8mm< ropes), and I also try a few small falls and they were fine, too.

I wouldn't make this a habit to practice all the time, but I'm wondering what the issue is with it, with the added knots on the way up? If it fails (no!), the knot will stop it, right?

P. S. I would not dare to do this outdoors, but only indoors on easier route on that I badly want to climb and there's no one around!

  • 3
    Petzl explicitily states it is not a self-belay device. Probably because they've seen it fail. If you see it fail it can easily be the last thing you see. Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 8:44
  • @ptityeti the backup knots should help lessen the likelihood of a fatal accident in the event of a grigri failure, right? Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 13:59

2 Answers 2


We used GriGri extensively at my local wall for groups, route setting and emergency rescue in the wall. The key issue is that like a car seat belt a GriGri needs inertia to fire it - a sudden jerk. If you weight it slowly it can slip and not lock. I experienced it while route setting and had it not been for the Petzl Shunt positioned above my shoulder holding when the GriGri slipped things could have been very different.

For groups we use to throw a fig8 on a bite on the dead rope once the climber had reached 1 (or 2) metres off the floor for the same reason. Novice users tend to keep their thumb pad over the lever preventing it from jerking upwards. The same issue occurs when people use it for leading - to give rope you hold the braking mechanism off. If you give slack, the person falls whilst clipping and you keep your hand over the lever the GriGri will not fire. If we used them for leading we use to hold them horizontally so that they would spin out the hand and fire. We would also keep a loop of rope in our hand under the GriGri so if it was to slip there was a limit of how far.

Personally I would not feel comfortable relying on a GriGri as a self belay unless I through that fig8 in.

Retired Climbing Instructor of 10yrs. I accept my knowledge may be out of date.


I have done this before, and it not all that different from jugging up a rope.

What you will want to do it to attach the knots (typically a figure eight on a bight) to your belay loop with a locking carbiner. That way, if the gri gri was to fail, you would only fall until you the rope went tight. Tying the knots more often will limit the potential drop.

If you are going to do this more often, I would suggest investing a device meant to do this.

  • Had it ever failed on you?
    – Neeku
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 18:09
  • @Neeku No, but at the same time I haven't done hundreds of pitches with this. Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 18:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.