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Belayer Positioning for Ice Climbing


Original Post
Nate Doyle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 10

Is this really the best location for the belayer?

Belayer Positioning for Ice Climbing

My initial thought was "what happens if some ice comes down and traps the belayer in the cave? He won't be very much help to the lead in that case; if the lead has been injured etc."

Is this something they've taken into consideration?

I don't ice climb so, please forgive the naivety of my question. I was curious, just the same.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,745
Nate Doyle wrote:Is this really the best location for the belayer? Belayer Positioning for Ice Climbing My initial thought was "what happens if some ice comes down and traps the belayer in the cave? He won't be very much help to the lead in that case; if the lead has been injured etc." Is this something they've taken into consideration? I don't ice climb so, please forgive the naivety of my question. I was curious, just the same.
It's a bit far-fetched to worry about so much ice coming down that it seals up the cave. Even if it did, that would surely be enough to kill the belayer if he were anyplace else.
Max Forbes · · Vermont & Colorado · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 114

Belayer positioning is a common teaching point and important consideration when ice climbing. Even without formal instruction, this is something you will notice all ice climbers will do subconsciously. This video does an excellent job of summing up the key points, and as mentioned above, the idea of getting trapped is unrealistic and the least of your worries in such a situation.

Buff Johnson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2005 · Points: 1,145

If you have the ability to simultaneously belay and shout out beta to everyone, obviously you should stand directly below the climber. We all encourage it.

GregMiller · · Louisville, CO · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 30

I figure, if there's enough ice coming down to seal the belayer in the cave, it's probably because the column they're on is collapsing, in which case everyone is going for a ride.

In other news, when I was in Lake City last ice season, saw some folks in a military unit belaying rather oddly. They'd tie into the free end of the rope, then clove in tight to an ice screw placed in the ice between their feet. As far as preventing the belayer from coming off the ground in a lead fall, sure that's great, but they could at most move a foot in either direction to dodge any ice coming down. Didn't understand it.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

This reminds me of the cave that forms on Weeping Wall. The WI6 on the right side is gangsta!

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

First of all, much respect to the AMGA and OR for putting out all these educational videos.

But this video is kind of ridiculous.

In all my years, I can't seem to recall too many ice caves. Actually, I can't recall any at all. Discussing this the other day with a fellow ice climber, and AMGA guide, he couldn't either and was wondering why they made a video using an extremely rare feature to cover such a critical aspect of ice climbing.

Belayer position in ice climbing is pretty damn important. And if there's a magical cave, cool. But what about the 99.99999% of the rest of time when there's no cave?

How about, for instance, belaying on a narrow ledge under steep wall? Or standing on a icy/snowy slope?

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340
Bill Kirby wrote:This reminds me of the cave that forms on Weeping Wall. The WI6 on the right side is gangsta!
Did you belay in the cave?
Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,745

I have belayed in a cave on Renormalization at Lake Willoughby. Cozy and safe, but it made starting the second pitch really awkward.

Padraig · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 100

I've always thought caves were pretty standard

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480
Michael C wrote: Did you belay in the cave?
Yup.. sure did since I was the follower haha..

Ice caves, hmmmmm...

Weeping Wall

Standard route at Frankenstein.

The top of the second pitch of Positive Thinking
Tara Storter · · Eagle River, Alaska · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 205

Ideally you'd be paying attention to your climber and not standing under their ice fall. I'd rather be outside then in the cave not seeing or knowing what's happening outside. It's also nice to see my climber so when they're ready to clip I'm ready to feed out rope quickly.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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