Belaying is important skill that requires practice and experience to become competent belayer. Wrong or inattentive belaying can cause many preventable climbing accidents. Those mistakes can result in serious injuries for both climber and belayer. Every novice climber must get into a habit of checking climber’s knot and belay device before starting a climb. You must make sure that the rope is long enough for your climb. If you are in doubt, tie a knot on the free end of the rope which will prevent it from slipping out of a belay plate. Know your equipment and always choose right belay technique and belay device for your climb.
After safety check you should get into the best belaying position. Anticipate the direction of pull, and position yourself appropriately. If you stand near the foot of a climb you are less likely to be pulled off balance when holding a fall or lowering a climber. If there is lot of rope (slack) paid out climber could hit the ground. Standing near the climb results in less rope between belayer and climber.
We use many kinds of ropes and belay devices and you need to make sure that those are compatible and safe to use. Always read manufactures leaflets to see what equipment you should use. Never belay with equipment you don’t know how to use.
There are two types of belay devices used – Manual devices and assisted braking devices. A manual device employs mainly friction and allows some slippage of rope when holding a fall. Assisted braking device pinches the rope and allows little or no slippage of rope.Know this - They are not hands free devices!! Take extra caution when lowering a climber as pinching mechanism is progressively disabled.
Dmm bug: Great all rounder belay devise at home at the wall and on trad routes.
Petzl Reverso: Probably the most versatile belaying device. Designed to be used by guides and instructors. It allows two seconds to be brought up safely and can be put into the guide mode where it locks off when climber falls.
Petzl Grigri: Grigri is device with assisted braking. It works well for leading and top roping on sport routes. It shouldn't be used on trad routes because it doesn't allow any rope slippage thus putting more strain on anchors and runners.
If belaying a climber with significantly higher weight consider attaching belayer to ground anchor to prevent a lift when lowering off or catching a fall. Make sure that you are attached to the anchor on same size as your braking hand. If you are attached on the other side you could be twisted sideways and lose control of the rope. Never stand with rope attached to the ground anchor running between your legs.
Belayer attached to the ground anchor: Note that anchor is on the same side as the breaking hand.
Belay devices are designed to work with different diameters of rope. Every manufacturer will provide the information about what rope diameter should be used with your belay device. If the rope is too thin it might become too difficult to control when holding a fall or lowering a climber.
Extra care should be used when using new ropes as often those are very smooth thanks to a coating and can require a belayer to grip the rope more.
Every climber should familiarize with different climbing techniques depending on a type of a climb. Weather it is bottom roping, top roping or multi pitch climbing and regularly practice those techniques.
To belay a climber simply follow this sentence: V, knee, 1,2,3
-V: pull down with left hand and pull up with your right hand ( right is braking hand ) this will feed the slack rope through belay device.
-Knee : Braking hand holding the rope moves down to the knee making sure rope is kept tight. This will lock off the rope
-1,2,3: Now left hand will reach down (1) on to the braking rope and hold it while right hand will be moved up next to the belay plate (2). left hand can now go back pulling down the rope coming from the climber(3).