How to Rappel with a Grigri: a Guide for Beginners

How to Rappel with a Grigri

In the rappelling world, people try to minimize the gear they carry for their adventures. One device that will help you stay safe and comfortable is a grigri. It works like an assisted brake device that pinches the rope when moving quickly. 

And it can hold a climber when mapping out a route.

How to Rappel with a Grigri: a Step-by-Step Guide

Set up your grigri

First, you should run your rope through the anchor until both ends touch the ground. Tie a big knot at the middle of the rope – this will stop you from falling down the cliff. 

Can You Rappel from a Top Rope with a Grigri

Feed the rope inside the grigri

This device comes with a U-shaped metal piece (the cam) where the rope slides along. Feed the rope between the cam and slide plate. 

Clip a screwgate carabiner to the loop

The loop is located in the middle of the device. First, you should unscrew the screw gate and hook on the loop. Next, screw over the gate such that it won’t open when rappelling. 

Tie a knot at the end of breaking rope

Tie a knot at the end of the rope coming out of the grigri. This will prevent it from sliding through at the end of the slack. 

Hold the braking side of the rope

The braking side is the one that comes to the bottom of the grigri. When you hold the rope with one hand, you gain control of the grigri. Since this device is not auto-locking, the rope can slide if you don’t hold the braking side. The person on the ground helps to control the rope.

Pull the rope through grigri 

You should pull the rope at the end of the mechanism as the other hand holds the braking side. This is what you use to feed the rope through the grigri. 

Rappelling with a Grigri Cons

Disengage the cam

Lock the index finger, press down the cam, and pull the slack through the other hand. 

Pull down the braking rope to engage the cam

Use the hand that holds the braking side to pull the rope straight in front of you. When you engage grigri’s cam, you can hang in there without getting tired. If the cam doesn’t engage immediately, take a step back. 

Pull the release handle

If the climber is coming down too fast, you should engage the cam. Avoid pulling the release handle, as you might disengage the locking mechanism. The trick is to pull slowly until you feel some resistance and then snap the handle back in place. 

Rappelling with a Grigri: Pros

Can function as an ascender

The locking feature gives grigri an advantage over other anchoring devices. You can always get up the rope if you need to. 

It comes with an anti-panic handle

This feature comes in handy if you’re sharing your device with a newbie. You can pull the handle to a given point to stop the descent or regulate the speed. 

Breaking feature

The cam on your grigri will ensure you stop automatically if something goes wrong. This is an added advantage for those learning to rappel. The device will stop automatically if something goes wrong. 

If you want to stop the device as you rappel, you should release the latch. Some ropes come with slippage, but you don’t have to worry because you’ll stop for a moment. 

Wider rope range

A grigri is optimized for ropes that are 8.5-10.5mm. But staying under the 10mm mark makes the process of feeding quicker. The expanded range helps to accommodate thin ropes. 

Rappelling with a Grigri Pros


A grigri is more durable than other rappelling devices. Some come with a stainless steel plate that protects the lip. These devices are also fitted with a stopper to prevent rope snags. 

Allows for varying levels of friction

  • If you’re performing technical rappels, you can decide how much friction you wish to put in the system. 
  • Easy to set up;
  • Great for beginners and experienced climbers;
  • Proficient handling when lowering heavy people.

Rappelling with a Grigri: Cons

Difficult to control the speed

If you’re using a dynamic rope, it can be difficult to find a speed you can rappel at. 

It won’t work for double-strand rappels

A grigri is designed to work with only a single strand setup. It might not be the best device in specific situations. 

It doesn’t work with thick ropes

Since a grigri is designed for specific rope diameters, it won’t fit thick ropes. 

How far Can You Rappel with a Grigri?

On average, you can rappel with a grigri for 60-80 meters – this will depend on the length of the rope. But for safety purposes, a 70-meter rope is becoming the standard. Unless you’re in a rescue mission, you don’t need to rappel with a 180-meter rope. 

Another determinant is the diameter of the rope. Since a grigri is designed for medium ropes, it can be trickier to perform the rappels. For safety reasons, the recommended diameter for the rope is 8.5 to 11 mm. If the rope is wider than this, you may experience too much friction.

How to Rappel with a Grigri a Step-by-Step Guide

Of course, staying under the 10mm mark makes the feeding of the slack quicker and smoother. You must check routes before you go. You should also research online to check how long each rappel was. 

Can You Rappel from a Top Rope with a Grigri?

Yes, you can rappel from a top rope with a grigri. But be careful, because the speed can be tricky. The climbing rope often starts by setting up the anchors and hiking down to the base. Before you use bolts to create an anchor system, you should ensure everything is secure. Here is how you can descend from the top rope with a grigri. 

You should put a knot in one rope strand and attach your grigri. If you have a single master point, there are lots of ways to rig this:

  • Clip the locking carabiner to the master point;
  • Tie a butterfly and clip to the carabiner;
  • Rig the middle of the rope to the master point.

With the rope on the anchor, tie one end and lower yourself. Some models allow you to switch the modes from the top rope. 

Final Thoughts on How to Rappel with a Grigri

A grigri is one of the best belay devices that can help take your adventures to the next level. It comes with a unique braking mechanism and pinches the rope when moving quickly.

As always, you must have proper knowledge of the device. Don’t forget to use the right rappelling gear for your safety.

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