How to belay

The standard disclaimers about how dangerous climbing is and how unreliable anything is you read anywhere apply here as well. This site is far from definitive (and probably far from accurate).    It is here for the amusement of myself and friends and possibly to shed some light, though I don't mind a little obfuscation now and again either. Various parts have been adapted and pilfered from sources found hither and yon, though I have tried to make all entries mostly original.     So please read, but remember that responsibility for safe climbing is your own.

Belaying a lead, attention on climber. Ignore the inane grin.


The below is how **I** belay. **I** think its safe. There are other belay methods, which, personally, I have doubts about. There are other belay methods which I regard as safe. There are other belay methods which use other devices. There are belay methods that use **no** devices. I am not an instructor, and even if I were, belaying is an art form, not a science. i.e. If you follow the advice here, I bear no responsibility for any f*ck-up or injury occurring as a result.

1. Belaying a Top-Rope

1. Start off in the position below. The left hand holds the live rope (the rope going to the climber). The right hand holds the dead rope in the locked off position.

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2. The climber ascends. The left hand takes in the live rope, the right hand unlocks the device, pulls the rope through.

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3. ......and immediately locks off again.

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4. left hand transfers to the dead rope and holds it above the right hand.

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5. right hand transfers to above the left hand

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6. left hand transfers back to the live rope.

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7. Lowering off. Both hands transfer to the dead rope and shuffle the rope between them note, never go hand over hand on the dead rope. I was dropped the entire height of Leeds wall as a result of that one.

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Note apart from the position (2) the rope is locked off at all times.

2. Belaying a lead.

Much more difficult, and more open to discussion. This is the way I do it.

I would point out that when I am belaying a lead it is **essential** that **all** the belayer's attention is on the climber. Really. No excuses, no chatting with friends, no attention any other fu*king place at all than the climber you are belaying. Have you got that. No? OK, I'll make it easy. If you are belaying a lead then the climber's life is in your hands. If I, as the climber, wish you to pay attention and not talk about what was on TV with your mates whilst I am leading a route then you do what I f*cking say. THERE IS NO EXCUSE IF YOUR CLIMBER HAS AN INJURY AS A RESULT OF YOU NOT PAYING ATTENTION.

1.left hand feeds out rope, right hand is permanently in the locked off position.

2. When the climber requires rope, the left hand pulls the rope through the belay device, and right hands feeds it into the belay device. The right hand remains locked off all the way through the procedure, and ready, at any point, to move into full lock-off.

3. If the climber is, at any point, looking dodgy, the rope is fully locked off, and fed through the device the odd inch at a time.