Introducing GRIGRIs on All Top Ropes at Earth Treks

At Earth Treks, we’re constantly thinking about ways to improve the climbing experience for our members and also welcome new climbers into our community. We love hearing from our members and we get great feedback that we use to inform our decisions.

One of the things we’ve always been mindful of are potential barriers keeping people from climbing. Our overall mission at Earth Treks is to create community, share our passion, and inspire philanthropy. We want to grow our community and help others discover our sport. If we can take actions that will ease the expense of upfront gear costs and provide the education and knowledge necessary to get newer climbers climbing and belaying independently, we will.

That’s why we’ve decided to attach GRIGRIs to all of our top ropes. Beginning April 29, if you're climbing on top rope at any of our facilities, you will need to use the GRIGRI provided on each of our ropes. Coupled with this change is our new class, Introduction to Climbing: Belay Lesson, which is designed to teach new climbers to belay with a GRIGRI in the gym.

We believe that this change will decrease the upfront cost of buying a belay device and our one-hour Intro to Climbing: Belay Lesson will empower newer climbers with the exact knowledge they need to begin belaying in the gym. Plus members can register up to two friends to take the Intro to Climbing: Belay Lesson class daily for FREE! And of course, there are benefits for experienced top ropers, such as less wear and tear on their gear.  

Please note: As a part of the change, we are asking anyone who doesn't have a Planet Granite or Earth Treks Colorado top rope card to do a quick (and we do mean quick) top rope re-check.

Lead belayers should still bring their preferred belay device, as our GRIGRI’s are designated for top rope use only. 

With any change, there’s bound to be some adjustments and we realize that you may have questions. Here are the most commonly asked questions we’ve received so far. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our gym directors:

  • Columbia Director, Amanda Piering:
  • Crystal City Director, Erica Espenak:
  • Englewood Director, Berta Garcia:
  • Golden Director, Maren Olson:
  • Rockville Director, Elise Salvatore:
  • Timonium Director, Raphael Francis:


  1. Why is Earth Treks adding GRIGRIs to top ropes?
    Our overall mission at Earth Treks is to share our passion, create community, and inspire philanthropy. GRIGRIs on top ropes allow us to reduce barriers so that new climbers can more easily get psyched on climbing and join our community.
  2. May I still use my own belay device?
    If you are climbing on top rope, you will need to use the GRIGRI attached to the ropes. You may use your own belay device if you are belaying on lead.
  3. I'm already belay certified. Do I have to get re-certified to top rope belay?
    Yes, we are asking anyone who doesn't have a Planet Granite or Earth Treks Colorado top rope card to do a quick top rope re-check. The re-check should take only a minute or two and focuses on lowering with a GRIGRI. If you're already belay certified, but haven't used a GRIGRI before we'll make sure you're comfortable during that re-check. Once you're re-certified, you'll receive a card to display on your harness.
  4. Aren’t GRIGRIs expensive? Will implementing this policy result in a membership increase?
    Adding GRIGRIs to the ropes will not impact membership dues. Their cost is offset by changes they allow us to make to our classes and programs, allowing people to enjoy climbing at the gym with fewer barriers.
  5. I only know how to use my belay device. I’ve never used a GRIGRI. What is it?
    GRIGRIs are an assisted braking belay device. Please keep in mind, you will not have to change your belay technique when using a GRIGRI, the only thing that will be different is how you lower a climber. So, if you are belay certified, we can give you quick instructions on how to do that during your belay re-certification. We'll go over how to lower and how to stop a climber while lowering on a GRIGRI.
  6. I don't know how to belay. How do I learn to belay with a GRIGRI?
    Then our one-hour Introduction to Climbing: Belay Lesson will be perfect for you! Our Englewood and Golden locations have multiple classes offered at all of our gyms every day (Columbia, Crystal City, Rockville and Timonium will offer these classes, starting April 29)--register for one now.  And remember, if you're a member you can register up to two friends to take the Intro to Climbing: Belay Lesson class daily for FREE!

    Register at Columbia

    Register at Crystal City

    Register at Englewood

    Register at Golden

    Register at Rockville

    Register at Timonium

  7. Do I have to bring my own GRIGRI?
    No. We’re providing the GRIGRIs for top rope climbing--they’ll be attached to the top ropes. You will still need your own belay device for lead climbing.
  8. Do I have to use a GRIGRI for lead climbing as well?
    No, you can use a belay device of your choosing for lead belaying, as long as it’s UIAA approved.
  9. Why can I lead with my own belay device (even if it is not an assisted breaking belay device), but not top rope with one?
    Lead climbers can belay on lead without an assisted breaking belay device because they have been educated about the dangers involved with lead climbing/belaying and have a deeper understanding of the physics and mechanics involved in climbing. Given that, lead climbers are able to use any approved UIAA belay device when belaying someone on lead. Additionally, top-roping is open to beginner climbers, in addition to experienced climbers. Our new Intro to Climbing format, combined with an assisted braking belay device on top ropes, allows beginners to enter top rope climbing more seamlessly.

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