On Oxalis Adventure tours, there are plenty of thrilling technical activities that involve climbing and traversing with the use of ropes. Needless to say, life-lining forms a very crucial part throughout the process and due to Oxalis’ commitment to safety on tour; you can be rest assured that it is done in the most professional manner.

All the tour guides, safety assistants and guide assistants at Oxalis Adventure undergo thorough safety training and are highly competent with life-lining. All the training is carried out by cave experts from the British Cave Research Association (BCRA).

What Is Life-Lining?

Life-lining is a safety procedure that is done in order to protect a climber from falling or to hold a climber that has fallen. In simple terms, a lifeline is actually the rope you use for climbing during caving. There are various techniques involving lifelines and it’s highly essential for the process to be carried out properly to ensure safety throughout the climb.

As mentioned above, a lifeline is used to protect a climber from falling or to hold a fall. It is the use of friction to hold the weight of a climber that has fallen. A lifeline will be controlled by a belayer who will use a belay device to control the lifeline.

Oxalis uses an auto-locking belay device known as a Gri-Gri. It is also possible to use an Italian hitch or simple friction of a line around a tree in an emergency situation. The lifeline will be secured to the climber by a belt or harness. In an emergency a bowline can be used.

A person who is in suspension must wear a harness. Belts and bowlines are to be used to prevent a fall occurring. If a person is suspended on a belt or a bowline, they must be removed from that position quickly and safely as it is very uncomfortable and can lead to harm. Karabiners are used to connect each part of the system and the preferred standard knot will be the “figure of 8 on the bight”.


Anchors must be unquestionably sound especially if a single anchor is used. Where bolt anchors are used these must be backed up with a second anchor. The use of a share loading lanyard assists.

  • The optimum angle between anchors is 90° or less and it must not exceed 120°.
  • Visually check and function test all Karabiners before climbing to ensure locked, closed and not cross-loaded.
  • Ensure that the belayer is safe and clipped to a secure anchor point with their cowstail. Choose a position so that you can see and always pay attention whilst life lining.
  • Ensure the life line has been uncoiled and managed before use, to prevent entanglements.
  • Ensure the lifeline is cared for and does not suffer damage from being trodden on.
  • Place a stopper knot in the end to ensure the lifeline does not accidentally pull out of the Gri-Gri.
  • The climber must always be attached to the lifeline in a place of safety and remain attached until they reach a safe place before removing the lifeline.
Belaying Principles

Always maintain a tight line, if necessary, tell the climber to slow down. It is important to be aware of the two sides:

  • Climber’ side
  • Brake side

The Golden rule is never to let go of the brake side of the lifeline or attempt to grip both parts of the line


Whenever lowering with a Gri-Gri, an additional friction Karabiner must be used. The belayer gradually pulls on the release handle, without letting go of the brake side of the rope. The handle can assist in braking, but the descent rate is controlled by the hand gripping the brake side of the rope.


1. Pull the climber’s side into the belay device to take up the slack with both hands, always maintain a grip with the brake side hand.
2. When the arm is fully extended maintain grip with the brake hand.
3. Remove the hand from the climber’s side and grip the brake side below the brake hand.
4. Slide the brake hand back to the belay device.
5. Return the climbers hand back to the climber’s side and repeat the process.


It is possible to pull the rope through the belay device by simply pulling the line through the belay device with both hands on the brake side.

Paying Out
  • Always maintain contact with the brake hand.

  • Focus more on pushing the rope into the device rather than pulling it out.

  • When using the Gri-Gri, it may be necessary to overcome the locking cam. To achieve this, the climber’s side hand grips the body of the Gri-Gri and uses a thumb to apply sufficient pressure on the cam to allow the life-line to pass through.


Standard words of command are used to ensure that both the climber is safely attached and the belayer is ready to lifeline.

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Use Of The Gri-Gri

The Gri-Gri is a deemed Personal protective equipment (PPE). It is an assisted-braking belay device designed for rock climbing. It can be used to belay a climber on a top-rope, and to lower the climber. It has an incorporated anti-panic locking function.


  • Check that the Gri-Gri has no cracks, deformation, marks, corrosion and check for severe wear.

  • Check that the cam and release handle move freely and that the springs are working properly.


Used for life lining with semi-static ropes: 8.5-11 mm diameter:

  • The cam and the frame of the Gri-Gri must be able to rotate freely at all times. The Gri-Gri must be free to rotate around the karabiner.

  • Any blockage or constraint of the device, or of the cam, negates the braking action on the rope.


When a climber falls, the Gri-Gri pivots on the karabiner, the rope becomes taut and the cam pinches the rope, applying a braking force to it. By holding the brake side of the rope, the brake hand helps engage the cam, so it is important to always hold the brake side of the rope.


A function test must be carried out before each use to ensure correct rope installation and to verify that the GRIGRI is functioning properly.


Before using the Gri-Gri, you must know the proper belaying techniques. Take up slack regularly always holding the brake side of the rope. In this position, the Gri-Gri’s braking action on the rope is not optimal therefore always hold the brake side of the rope.


The Gri-Gri + has an anti-panic handle. If the belayer pulls too hard on the handle, the anti-panic mechanism triggers. By holding the brake side of the rope, the brake hand helps engage the cam to stop the descent. To continue the descent, release the handle completely, and resume lowering normally.

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Whether you prefer long treks, camping in a cave, sleeping under the stars in the jungle, swimming underground in river caves, explore the huge dry caves or just taking an exploratory day trip, Oxalis Adventure Tours can provide the right amount of adventure just for you.

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