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Reminder to give an attentive belay


Original Post
Kev V · · The mitten · Joined May 2013 · Points: 10

Watched a guy get dropped 40ft to the deck off the route next to me. Landed in a flat spot, wearing a helmet, and there must have been just enough friction from the rope path to keep him from total freefall. He fortunately walked away unscathed.

Belayer's response to "what happened?" was "I guess I didn't have you"

There was chatter amongst belayer and other climbers on the ground while groundfaller was climbing, and then an obvious lack of execution of the simplest of belay rules: don't let go of the brake.

A reminder to consider of the gravity of our role as belayer..

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240
Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

and people wonder why gyms ask you pass a lead test 

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Bill Kirby wrote:

and people wonder why gyms ask you pass a lead test 

?

What does a lead test have to do with a shitty, incompetent belayer?

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240
Marc801 C wrote:

?

What does a lead test have to do with a shitty, incompetent belayer?

To prove that you are not dumb enough to let go of the rope while belaying someone?

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 311
Tim Lutz wrote:

deadly ATC?

I bet Grigri....         

Franck Vee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 70
Guy Keesee wrote:

I bet Grigri....         

Could be either, of course.

Though it seems to me you're betting against the odds: no-hands atc = decking. No-hands-grigri = probably auto-block.

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 877
Franck Vee wrote:

 no-hands atc = decking. No-hands-grigri = probably auto-block.

no hands atc = fast decking.  

hand holding climber side or hand defeating cam w/gri gri = not as fast decking.  still decking.

Decking is no good either way.  

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
ViperScale wrote:

To prove that you are not dumb enough to let go of the rope while belaying someone?

So isn't that a belay test and not a lead test?

Jordan Palamos · · Eugene, OR · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 15

Was this at red rocks? I'm friends with those people, except I'd never met the belayer, so I heard about the accident (I was out epicing on the black velvet wall that day). The belayer was using an ATC and leather gloves. His brake hand was not properly down in brake position, but still provided enough friction so the climber didn't get seriously injured. My friends all noticed poor technique before the accident but didn't say anything because this "friend-of-a-friend" "seemed really confident"... don't be afraid to speak up when safety is a concern!

Eric L · · Roseville, CA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 115
Jordan Palamos wrote:

Was this at red rocks? I'm friends with those people, except I'd never met the belayer, so I heard about the accident (I was out epicing on the black velvet wall that day). The belayer was using an ATC and leather gloves. His brake hand was not properly down in brake position, but still provided enough friction so the climber didn't get seriously injured. My friends all noticed poor technique before the accident but didn't say anything because this "friend-of-a-friend" "seemed really confident"... don't be afraid to speak up when safety is a concern!

Pull-pinch?  I see too many noobs using this technique with an ATC, which is "safer" in the gym with the pipe wrap friction on the top but still not good technique.  Fine with munter and probably with Gri-gri, but still not recommended.  I've been dropped (but didn't deck) by someone doing this... at some point we have to collectively agree it's a bad thing to do because it leaves the rope free (which takes a split second longer, depending on reaction time) and puts the hand in the wrong position to pull the brake (anotomically weak to pull against your pinky first.)

Lee Durbetaki · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 5
Eric L wrote:

Pull-pinch?  I see too many noobs using this technique with an ATC, which is "safer" in the gym with the pipe wrap friction on the top but still not good technique.  Fine with munter and probably with Gri-gri, but still not recommended.  I've been dropped (but didn't deck) by someone doing this... at some point we have to collectively agree it's a bad thing to do because it leaves the rope free (which takes a split second longer, depending on reaction time) and puts the hand in the wrong position to pull the brake (anotomically weak to pull against your pinky first.)

This is the method I was first taught (many years ago by a large youth organization that has its own climbing standards and internal certifications). Their reasoning was that it kept each hand on its own strand, and neither hand ever came off the rope. Moving the non-brake hand between strands was regarded as too confusing and more likely to result in the belayer releasing the brake hand.

I do not use or teach this method anymore.

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240
Marc801 C wrote:

So isn't that a belay test and not a lead test?

Lead belaying and top rope belaying are 2 different things. At our gym you have to be able to show you can lead belay and lead climb to get certification for leading. To climb top rope you don't need anything. To belay you have to do basic belay test. Bouldering requires nothing but signing the wavier.

Yes it does anony me and I know some of the people who are climbers and work there that don't like the fact they moved from tying in with a figure 8 to a biner you just clip in to any top rope. The biggest issue with it and I am waiting for it to happen is the biner will break the rope at some point since they never change where the biner is tied into the rope and have seen alot of ropes with damage due to it always hanging in the same location.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
ViperScale wrote:

Lead belaying and top rope belaying are 2 different things. At our gym you have to be able to show you can lead belay and lead climb to get certification for leading. To climb top rope you don't need anything. To belay you have to do basic belay test. Bouldering requires nothing but signing the wavier.

I get it. I'm not much of a gym rat, so haven't encountered the distinction.

Eric L · · Roseville, CA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 115
Lee Durbetaki wrote:

This is the method I was first taught (many years ago by a large youth organization that has its own climbing standards and internal certifications). Their reasoning was that it kept each hand on its own strand, and neither hand ever came off the rope. Moving the non-brake hand between strands was regarded as too confusing and more likely to result in the belayer releasing the brake hand.

I do not use or teach this method anymore.

If it's the same large youth org I belong to, they don't teach it anymore (thank goodness) - neither do I. Funny though, I still see it used in the gym all the time by people who learned it from someone.  IMHO, if the gym staff can take your lead card for missing a clip they should also take your belay card for using this method.  I hear people argue that it's "easier to feed rope on lead," which is true, but so is letting go of the rope entirely.  :)

Paul Deger · · Colorado · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 35

No reason a belay should result in 40’ fall other than just shitty belaying! Not the fault of a device.

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,346
Bill Kirby wrote:

and people wonder why gyms ask you pass a lead test 

Not sure what's more funny, lead belay tests in general or the fact that you're implying passing one actually means anything. I've seen people pass lead belay exams who dont know their head for their ass when it comes to lead belaying and I wouldent trust them to belay my hat. I've also seen extremely experienced belayers with 20+ years of high-level experience fail a belay test because they dident do it exactly like the college kid giving the exam thinks belaying should be done.

I once saw a "belay test" being given where the proctor said, "you should let go of the rope just for a quick second so some rope slips through the ATC and you give a nice, soft catch." I ended up taking a whip because I was laughing so hard I couldent see.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480
20 kN wrote:

Not sure what's more funny, lead belay tests in general or the fact that you're implying passing one actually means anything. I've seen people pass lead belay exams who dont know their head for their ass when it comes to lead belaying and I wouldent trust them to belay my hat. I've also seen extremely experienced belayers with 20+ years of high-level experience fail a belay test because they dident do it exactly like the college kid giving the exam thinks belaying should be done.

I once saw a "belay test" being given where the proctor said, "you should let go of the rope just for a quick second so some rope slips through the ATC and you give a nice, soft catch." I ended up taking a whip because I was laughing so hard I couldent see.

 There’s all kinds of people can’t belay and have poor habits. Then they get to a gym and whine because there’s a test to pass. Whether a certain gym has a good test or not isn’t my point. My point is you can’t blame gyms for trying to weed out the dumb as:,es

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

whether they utilize the deadly ATC of darkness and death or the holy grigri of healing light and safety, it is quite sad that the many peoplez cannot be bothered to learn and put even slight effort into most simplest of lifesaving tasks...

I give them disapproving look, of deep, deep disappointment, like I am the emotional repress father who has just learned they announce to pursue music degree.

Kev V · · The mitten · Joined May 2013 · Points: 10
Jordan Palamos wrote:

Was this at red rocks? I'm friends with those people, except I'd never met the belayer, so I heard about the accident (I was out epicing on the black velvet wall that day). The belayer was using an ATC and leather gloves. His brake hand was not properly down in brake position, but still provided enough friction so the climber didn't get seriously injured. My friends all noticed poor technique before the accident but didn't say anything because this "friend-of-a-friend" "seemed really confident"... don't be afraid to speak up when safety is a concern!

'Twas. These must have been the folks.

My assumption was belayer did not have rope in brake position, nor did he have a firm grip on the rope.

I agree with the importance of a "see-something-say-something" mindset, and I'd like to think had I not been belaying whilst this all occurred I might have noted the poor technique and mentioned something. Sometimes people don't want to offend or accuse, but when the life/safety of a person is at stake, that definitely takes priority over somebody's feelings.


Somewhat ironically this was on the route entitled "Mr. Choad's Wild Ride"

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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