Friday, May 21, 2010

Ascending Systems

There are a million ascending systems out there. On this blog we have previously discussed jugging with mechanical ascenders, the prusik hitch and climbing the rope with an autoblocking device. These are all excellent techniques for climbing up a rope...but it doesn't mean that they're the only techniques.

Climbers are ultimately artists and part of the art of climbing is picking the right tool at the right time to get up or down something. As a result, the more things that you know, the more tools that you have in your toolbox. And the more things that you know, the more improvisational you can be in any type of climbing situation.

This blog will provide you with another option for climbing up a rope. To set-up this system, you will need a mechanical ascender, a GriGri and a double-shoulder length sling. The following photo shows how each of these components will be used.

Following are the steps that you will need to complete in order to make this system work:
  1. Clip the mechanical ascender to the rope.
  2. Clip a double-shoulder length sling to the base of the ascender. This will become your be for your foot.
  3. Clip a carabiner to the top of the ascender, trapping the rope inside the ascender.
  4. Run the rope through your GriGri below the ascender.
  5. Redirect the rope from the break-hand of the GriGri up through the clip that is trapping the ascender on the rope.
Once this is set-up you're ready to jug. Put your foot into the foot-sling and then stand up. Once you are standing, pull the backside of the rope through the GriGri. Sit back on the GriGri, kick you knee up to your chest and push the jug up the rope. Repeat until you're at the top.

One important thing to always remember is that you will need to tie back-up "catastrophe knots" in the rope as you climb. This should happen every ten feet or so. One should never forget to do this, as occasionally GriGris slip.

Obviously, the only way to really dial in this system is to practice it. The best way to work through this system is to print this blog out, bring it out into the field and then make it happen!

--Jason D. Martin


  1. seems like you wouldn't want to re-route the rope from the gri-gri through the biner on the ascender. having it re-rerouted upwards like that doesn't allow you to increase the friction in the gri-gri by pulling the rope over the lip of the gri-gri, just in case you need to if something goes wrong with the ascender.

    or am I missing something?

  2. I was recently shown this system but with the rope rerouted from the Grigri to a pulley in the carabiner instead of just the carabiner. Made it roll really smoothly. Could you also clip a sling from your harness into the ascender as a backup?

  3. more importantly, is that a woman or a dude in the photo? thanks.

  4. Wex- we met in RR when you were there with Danny. The Hanes A-Shirt is incredibly comfortable climbing (or in this case, re-bolting) attire. Jon- Since most of the time an oval carabiner is the best choice for the top hole, it works sufficiently well as a pulley. It is important to make sure the rope is running cleanly so as to get minimum drag. And yes, having a double-length sling connected to the ascender backs up the grigri. Matt- rerouting the rope acts as a 3:1 pulley, thus making the ascension easier. Tying backup knots and using the proper diameter ropes for the grigri, as well as fully weighting it each time, should drastically reduce the chance of something going wrong.


Thank you for your comment. An administrator will post your comment after he/she moderates it.