Friday, July 3, 2015

Belaying from Above

In cooperation with Outdoor Research, the American Mountain Guides Association has made several videos for beginning level climbers.

In the following video, AMGA Instructor Team member Margaret Wheeler demonstrates two techniques for belaying from above. There are several other ways to do this and this video is by no means comprehensive.

Redirected Belay

Redirected belays were used quite heavily in the 90s. Indeed, that was the way that I learned how to belay in multi-pitch environments and at the top of climbs. But this is now considered an old way to belay. It has too many problems to be used regularly.

1) A redirected belay puts 2:1 force onto the anchor. This may not be a big deal if the anchor is strong, but could be a very big deal if it's weak.

2) It's possible for a belayer to get sucked up into the anchor while operating. The climber's weight may be enough to pull the person up and in an extreme case, the belayer could even drop the climber.

3) It is difficult for a belayer to escape the belay when using this technique.

Direct Belay

A direct belay with an autoblocking device allows one to escape the belay easily, belay one or two people up simultaneously, and let go of the rope if there's a problem without dropping the climber.

It is still common to see club climbers using the redirected belay. At this point there is no reason for beginning level leaders to use this technique. A direct belay with an autoblocking device has too many advantages to be ignored.

--Jason D. Martin

No comments: