An answer to a related post mentions that:

It's worth pointing out that these are assisted and not auto belay devices, you can't just not pay attention and expect them to work.

Does this mean that there are "auto" belay devices one can use instead of GriGri to increase the level of safety? Obviously I know there are huge auto-belay machines in rock climbing gyms, but is there a portable device one can use outdoors?

  • I'm slightly curious (and it will show my bias) on what motivates you to ask two separate questions in which you actively look to defer any responsibility for extremely critical tasks to machines. Belaying, you are literally putting someone else's safety in your hands and you'd rather let a machine do it? Personally, knowing this, I'd never accept to be a rope-partner with you.
    – Gabriel
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 15:52
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    @GabrielC the key to being a professional is to understand why a certain rule is in place. If you know the exact physics behind what you're doing, you're less likely to make a mistake. Simply saying "you're not a good rope partner" whenever challenged about existing assumptions is a good way to end the discussion, but it doesn't help people learn. Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 18:19
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    @GabrielC to give another example, I've always thought buckling up during flight is silly until I've learned more about how turbulences worked and realized how easy it is to break your skull if the plane jerks unexpectedly during flight. Now I stay buckled whenever seated, even when the seatbelt sign is off. Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 18:21
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    @GabrielC. and when your safe, responsible rope-partner gets knocked unconscious?
    – endolith
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 3:49
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    @GabrielC. There will be a difference if you fall while your grigri belayer is unconscious vs falling while your tube belayer is unconscious.
    – endolith
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 22:10

2 Answers 2


In general: No.

While some devices use mechanisms that can be different from the Grigri (in some cases radically different, such as the Wild Country Revo), all current sports climbing devices require the user to keep a hand on the braking strand of the rope. Some provide more room for user error than others, but the basic principle stays the same.

Additionally, "real" auto-belays in gyms are only for top-roping. To my knowledge, no fully automatic belay device for lead climbing exists. (Apart from special devices designed for solo lead climbing, such as the discontinued Silent Partner.)

  • Technical rescue devices like Petzl I'D or CMC MPD or even CMC Clutch come close, but not for lead climbing.
    – crasic
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 1:05
  • The ID is not that good for belaying. It has an idiot proofing feature that locks if you insert the rope backwards. It's quite touchy and will jam unless you feed the rope though very evenly.
    – papirtiger
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 12:22
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    It's always a good idea to follow the manufacturer's instructions and keep you hand on the dead end of the rope, but it's worthwhile considering that the standard UIAA testing for assisted belay devices is comprised of hands-free fall tests only (see standards UIAA 129-V09, page 12, or EN 15151-1, also page 12). Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 17:17

Just to go into the most commonly used device for this, Rock Exotica silent partner- the rope is secured to the ground (and the top), and clove hitched to a spinning drum on the device. The drum allows the rope to pass through the device as the climber ascends, but under rapid speeds, the drum will lock and the clove hitch will tighten and stop the climber.

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    This does not add any new information. The other answer already mentioned rope solo devices (explicitly the silent partner). The general mode of operation here at SE is that we try not to add new answers without new information
    – Manziel
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 11:00
  • Well, the accepted comment states, clearly and boldly, that the answer is no, while it clearly isn't, and it seems rude to edit someone's answer to present the opposing position.
    – adeadhead
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 18:29
  • The accepted answer deals with the matter of alternatives to semi-automatic belay devices, and also clarifies a misunderstanding regarding the difference between what would be an "automatic" belay device, and a solo device. Your answer adds nothing new. Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 19:36

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