The Right Way to Belay

03/10/2014

Since many climbers have learned to belay from friends instead of taking a course from a certified instructor, there's a chance that we're not fully in control or have picked up bad habits over the years. The eeAm (Escuela Española de Alta Montaña) has recently published a video demonstrating the correct way to belay with a Petzl GriGri on a sports route.

The basic rules covered in the video are:

  • Familiarize yourself with the Gri-Gri and understand how the mechanism works before using it. (Petzl's instructional video on the correct use of a Gri-Gri
  • Pay close attention to the illustration engraved on the Gri-Gri which shows which part of the rope goes toward the climber and which goes toward the belayer.
  • Never let go of the rope you are using to belay.
  • Never hold the entire Gri-Gri firmly in your hand: this may prevent the blocking mechanism from working in case of a fall.
  • Always be alert and prepared for the possibility that the climber may fall.
  • In case of a fall, you can limit the impact with a small jump. (This is not always advisable and depends on how high the climber is and the inclination of the route).
  • Always maintain a hold on the rope while you're lowering the climber.
  • Before climbing, ALWAYS tie a knot in the other end of the rope to avoid it slipping through the Gri-Gri.

As stated in the video, it's important to remember that this advice in no way substitutes a beginners climbing course from a certified instructor.