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Petzl Grigri in soft anchor system

Richard Tregoweth - Thursday, October 15, 2009

Treetools had the pleasure of driving the DB Tree team to Wellington to compete in the 2009 NZAA/Stihl Wellington Region TCC event held earlier this month - see previous blog.

Eight hours each way in the Treetools Hilux meant plenty of time to talk climbing.

One topic of conversation was the use of a 'soft anchor system' in tree climbing and the various merits of the self-braking descenders: the Trango Cinch and the Petzl Grigri. (Of course, you could just use a hitch - see SRT remote system at

Both the Cinch and the Grigri offer an easy descent mode if the climber was unable to return to the ground under their own steam.

An assistant could lower the climber off (assuming the climbers lanyard could be released) without the need of a harness or a suitable descending device ( figure 8).

While the Cinch could be used in this instance, the release lever can be a bit fiddly to operate.

The Cinch is designed to be worn attached to a harness and works best (if you are right handed) when the lever is depressed with your left hand behind the rope to the climber. The release lever is only really used when the rope is under extreme tension. This might be a mission if you have a dead weight on the rope and the belay mechanism is anchored to the tree!

General consensus in the car was that the Petzl Grigri would be the preferred device. The unit itself is bigger than the Cinch and the release lever, in particular, is easier to use - even though both are designed to be attached to a harness.

Please note, both the Cinch and the Grigri need to be handled with care - knowledge and practice in belaying techniques is essential.

Since the Wellington trip, the DB Tree team have experimented with various options using a soft anchor system and it has opened up other interesting possibilities in setting up your climbing system.

Talk to Drew, Matt or Johno if you want more information.

2011 UPDATE: Use of the Petzl Grigri as a ground anchor is now STRONGLY DISCOURAGED by Petzl - download the Grigri Experience here - see page 9. The Petzl Rig is the preferred device for pre-installed, lowerable rescue systems.

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