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I can belay, but what makes me a good belayer?

Gordy Schafer · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 35

I find the best belays come from strong climbers, who go for it when making hard placements, bad clips, & don't mind a bit of airtime themselves. Most climbers that are scared to fall, are usually scared to catch a fall too.

Nothing worse than trying to move through a crux & being on a tight rope, especially because when your cranking as hard as you can You're usually holding your breathe & can't yell down for a bit of slack. Frustrating.

· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0

I wonder if JohnL is even a climber? It seems like he spends more time talking shit on MP then anything. Go climbing some time dude!

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

Everyone can belay. Okay, maybe almost everyone can belay. Besides from being cautious, attentive, easy going, and able to stop a fall, what makes someone a good belayer? I have always thought that most people can belay, but some people can really belay GOOD, and I much rather climb with them if I have choices. Here are some of the giveaways that I personally pay attention to. *Dynamic belay - Give soft catches. Knee down within first 3 or so bolts. *Aware of the rope position - Stand straight down or left/right of first bolt depending left/right hand clipping for the first bolt. Don't stand away from the wall for the first few bolts so climber doesn't fall and hit the rope. Able to realize and warn the leader to flip the rope to avoid sharp corner/hold/bolt and leg behind the rope. *Aware of the surrounding - Look for a direction to run/jump to in case of a long fall. Able to call for a stick clip for leader's safety. Not afraid to open his/her mouth when seeing something sketchy. Know when to encourage and when to keep quiet. *Efficient rope/time management - Flake the rope while leader shoe up, rope up, and ready before the leader is ready. Able to untangle pigtails and avoid short roping. These are what I can think of so far. What are your preferences?


This is a really thoughtful post that bears repeating. If you don't do these things, you should.

Also- J1, if you are judging a belayer based solely on their belay device, you should re-evaluate your criteria for a good belay.
James Glover · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 5

I wonder if JohnL is even a climber? It seems like he spends more time talking shit on MP then anything. Go climbing some time dude!

JohnL --> John [Gil]l?
Eric Holden · · Temecula, CA · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 20

I love to belay and all the things mentioned are the big ones. Also, I am 300lbs, and make a great anchor. So often do I see people not watching their partner, talking to someone else. Knowing that if they took a fall, disaster will ensue. Luckily we climb not to fall. I have been dropped 3 times from people not used to belaying someone of my massive girth. My climbing partner is used to belaying me and is about half my size and I have never once been worried about his skills.

I remember my partner was about 90ft off the deck, 45ft from his last piece of pro. He started to get the Elvis legs and all I thought was how much it was going to suck if he fell as I would be running backwards through thick, sharp, thorny bushes to keep him from decking.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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