It happend to me a couple of times now that I've cross-loaded my carabiner when belaying; the frequent change from slack to tension and back, moving the carabiner up and down and all that, can easily result in such a situation.

There are a few biners adressing this issue by adding a small wire gate lock at the bottom or having a 8-like shape, but I was wondering whether anyone knows a neat trick how to keep it in position so that it won't turn.

  • Interesting question - I've never had a problem with this. Must be a combination of factors that I don't understand.
    – Greg.Ley
    May 6, 2012 at 4:26
  • Have a look at this question on cross-loading: outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/1384/66 - the 'what not to do' can help indicate what you should do.
    – Rory Alsop
    May 6, 2012 at 20:47
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    While cross loading a biner is usually bad news bears, the type of forces and the typical magnitudes that are exerted on the belay biner make it not that big of a deal. Just make sure its stays locked, and make sure its a munter biner and not a standard one, and you should be fine. This is especially true for top-rope belaying (assuming you are top roping in the gym).
    – crasic
    May 6, 2012 at 23:02
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    @crasic it is true that in most/normal circumstances belaying does not produce enough force to break a cross-loaded carabiner, because of things like rope slip through the device, but ropes can jam, and this paper concludes that belay force for a "maximum credible event" is 12 kN. This exceeds the minor-axis-strength of most belay carabiners by a significant margin. "Better safe than sorry" in a game with no do-overs.
    – Mr.Wizard
    May 11, 2012 at 22:36
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    it mostly occurs when I'm attached to a daisy chain Are you talking about a situation where they have a weight on the floor for you to tie in to, so a light belayer won't get picked up off the ground by a heavy climber taking a lead fall? If they require you to use that, why not bring your own separate biner and use that to clip in to it, so the anchor tether isn't acting on the biner being used for the belay device?
    – user2169
    Feb 3, 2014 at 2:20

2 Answers 2


You can largely mitigate the problem by braking to the front and keeping tension on the carabiner throughout by pressing the system away from your body, rather than braking to the side. Nevertheless (as mentioned) these specialized carabiners may add some comfort:

You could also use a carabiner with a high minor axis strength. This carabiner has a rated minor-axis minimum-breaking-strength of 12 kN. According to a paper by Beverly and Attaway this is the "maximum credible event" force on the belay, and is therefore "strong enough."

Rod Hall's somewhat enigmatic post lead me to the the DMM Rhino:

This carabiner is designed to prevent a somewhat different type of cross-loading:

The horn prevents assisted locking belay devices rotating off the top bar and on to the spine reducing the risk of cross loading; it also works well with selected DMM pulleys.

A device such as a Petzl GRIGRI can migrate down the spine of the belay carabiner, and such a device may not move freely and therefore does not auto-orient to the degree that a standard tube-style device does, and it is reportedly possible to have the device stick like this:

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  • My Gridlock has really impressed, no issues with it at all, does the job flawlessly!
    – AM_Hawk
    Feb 3, 2014 at 4:20
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    The BD gridlock instructions clearly show the proper way to attach a Gri-Gri is to 'reverse' the carabiner (larger loop on the belay loop): 3rd row, 2nd column demandware.edgesuite.net/aakn_prd/on/demandware.static/…
    – Felix
    Feb 4, 2014 at 22:02
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    @Felix Thanks for pointing that out. I use an ATC and a DMM Oval for belay, but it's always good to know how to use other systems correctly if needed!
    – Mr.Wizard
    Feb 5, 2014 at 7:53

Keeping some outward tension on the belay device really helps. If you're toprope belaying you should already be doing this, if you're lead belaying basically keep the climber locked off unless you are feeding slack.

The other important factor is to make sure your belay device is through the belay loop, not the two tie-in points. All harness manufacturers recommend that you belay that way, as it prevents the carabiner from being cross-loaded.

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