Last April (2010), I attended the CWA conference (Climbing Wall association) in Boulder Colorado. I was in serious pursuit for as much information as possible for my new climbing gym project. By the end of the conference I was overwhelmed by truck loads of info, to the point where my brain felt as though it was going to burst. This was a good thing.
Throughout the entirety of the weekend, there was one specific moment that (later that summer) made me laugh. I specifically remember talking to my good buddy Tom Adams from Petzl during one of our “breaks” at the conference. I recall bringing up the topic of the Petzl Gri Gri and how they (Petzl) had to get on with designing a new device that worked better with smaller ropes. For at least 20 mins I peppered him with ideas, thoughts, concerns, etc. He, in his kind nature, humored me with sound answers; however giving no indication that something like that would be available any time soon.
In August of 2010, once again, I found myself in the middle of chaos at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show, in Salt Lake City. Upon my arrival to the show I made my way to the Petzl booth. Right away, like a bug being drawn to the light, my attention was caught by a shiny new piece of gear. Instantly I burst out laughing (quite loudly in fact). And as I turned, there was my “good buddy” Tom Adams laughing behind me. Cheeky bugger. Petzl had actually been working on the Gri Gri 2 for some time, releasing it to the public eye at the summer OR show. All that I had asked Tom about months before was right there in front of me. It was smaller, lighter, allowing for narrower ropes, and had more control with the assisted braking design. Naturally I gave Tom a good shot to the shoulder for keeping such a secret from me.
The first time I put the GriGri 2 into action it took a bit of getting used to, mostly because of it’s size. It was like holding a baby hamster in your hand. But within the first few times of belaying with it, there was nothing more to think about. I naturally adjusted to its new size, and actually gained a bit more confidence when lowering my partner. My belaying had once again become second nature but with a few new perks. Everything was back to normal, except now I was holding a baby hamster instead of a rabbit.
I typically use the Petzl Fuse 9.4 rope when I’m redpointing (or close to), and the 9.8 Nomad when I’m “working” a route. With the old Gri Gri, both ropes fed beautifully (especially the 9.4 as it was a “bit” small for the gri gri). When I was first introduced to the new GriGri 2 I was concerned to how it would handle larger ropes (like the Nomad at 9.8 or the new Xion at 10.1) because the device was considerably smaller. But quickly that concern was replaced with confidence as the GriGri 2 fed a range of sizes with no hindrance whatsoever (I used the Fuse, 9.4, Nomad 9.8, and the Zephyr 10.3).
The ability to lower a climber smoothly off a route, with a GriGri, takes time and practice. Heck, it took me years to master this art, not jolting the climber to the ground. But with the new GriGri 2, the design that allows, “excellent control during the descent. One hand holds the rope and the other uses the handle to unlock the cam. The patented handle design allows a very gradual release of the rope. In combination with the strong braking action of the cam, it gives a great feeling of control when lowering a partner or rappelling.” This new feature is especially nice for those just starting out with a GriGri as it allows more fluidity (in the first few degrees of pulling back the lever–not opening the cam fully) when lowering your partner, as opposed to opening the cam right away (with the older grigri). A belayer’s confidence will certainly go up a lot quicker then usual…this is good.
The GriGri 2, in it’s new state, is optimal for ropes from 9.4mm to 10.3mm, however allowing for ropes as small as 8.9mm-feeding with total fluidity. With it being about 20% lighter, featuring a new progressive descent control system, like its predecessor, it will be the standard for many (more) years to come.