Most people belay incorrectly.

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Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 9, 2008 - 02:56pm PT
I see it all the time. People act as if the idea in belaying is to have just the right amount of rope out.


WRONG!


The idea in belaying is to catch a fall without ever failing to do so.

What am I talking about?
Thumb position.

Sure; its easier to reef the rope in and out with the thumb of the braking hand pointing AWAY from the belaying device. But if you give an experienced belayer ample advanced warning that they are about to catch a big fall it is far more likely that they would instinctively move their braking hand a little further from the device to avoid being "sucked in", holding the rope down against their hip for extra friction with their thumb pointed TOWARDS the device to maintain the best purchase of the rope.

Sure, plenty of people have caught lots of falls the other way, but thats because they had to. It doesn't negate the fact that holding the rope with thumb towards the device IS more secure.

That should be the priority, catching the fall not feeding the rope.
But I doubt there are many on this site who haven't watched the lackadaisical motions of others who acted as if belaying was more of a ritual than a function.

Belay failure isn't funny. It happens a lot, but is inexcusable.

The next time you see someone belaying in the manner that the statue belayer in the Ogden Climbfest thread (OMG, the wrong way now immortalized!) is holding the rope with his thumb out you should say, "Are you prepared to catch a hard fall or just hitch-hiking?"



(My guess is that there are plenty of stick-in-the-muds who will insist hitch-hiking is better, rather than concede the point. Remember the gym climber quote in the mags; "I've been belaying like this for two weeks and never had a problem!"

Ah yes. The voice of experience.)
Rock!...oopsie.

Trad climber
pitch above you
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:01pm PT
Can't resist beating dirtineye to the punch to tell you to take it to RC.
Rock!...oopsie.

Trad climber
pitch above you
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:03pm PT
Oh, and I'm 100% with you regarding your actual point.
weschrist

climber
South Lake Taco
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:04pm PT
The proper position of the thumb is obvious... it holds down the lever on the gri-gri.
jstan

climber
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:08pm PT
This kind of thing just does not compute IMHO. When you tell someone how to do something never having met the person and with no idea of their specific talents, there is a big downside hanging out there. Joe attempts to interpret my well-meaning but entirely remote advice and craters.

Now how do I feel?

Someone explain it to me. Please.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 9, 2008 - 03:08pm PT
For YOUR belayers Weakwrist.



and Rockoops; the pic of the statue was on the Taco.
Salathiel

Trad climber
South Beach, FL
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:10pm PT
I thought the thumb was to provide pressure for the bottle opener while getting a celebratory beer for yourself having suckered the leader into doing the most heinous pitch.

Blur
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 9, 2008 - 03:10pm PT
jstan, if he craters its because of the pro, or he let go.
Off White

climber
Tenino, WA
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:11pm PT
Hmmm, and how do you (personally) position your brake hand while giving a hip belay?
HighDesertDJ

Trad climber
Arid-zona
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:12pm PT
What kind of ammunition do you recommend for proper belay technique?
TradIsGood

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:13pm PT
Most people do not belay.

Most people have never seen a climbing rope.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 9, 2008 - 03:13pm PT
Off White,
same
jstan

climber
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:13pm PT
Or he was unable to follow your instructions.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 9, 2008 - 03:16pm PT
Not letting go is pretty universal as an instruction.
TradIsGood

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:18pm PT
Ron, in a fall, how much rope slippage occurs through the belay device, on average?
Rock!...oopsie.

Trad climber
pitch above you
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:19pm PT
PR-

Didn't see the pic, but no matter... I wasn't actually complaining. This just seems like the sort of topic that old codger dirt loves to get all indignant about and I thought I'd beat him to it for fun. I must be bored. I'm gonna go do something constructive now.

rlf

Trad climber
Josh, CA
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:20pm PT
The reason you see this is due to the retarded way they teach new climbers to belay by bringing both hands together over the belay device.

Why they teach this technique is beyond me.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 9, 2008 - 03:23pm PT
Who is "they"?



Rockoops, see Radical's photo on ClimbFest.
Rock!...oopsie.

Trad climber
pitch above you
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:28pm PT
I looked... He's also standing in the middle of all his nice loops of cable.
happiegrrrl

Trad climber
New York, NY
Mar 9, 2008 - 03:34pm PT
I remember first lessons on belaying at the gym. It felt very clumsy all that 'brake hand up, pinch rope, slide down, lock off' motion....

I can't remember which way my thumb was - that was the least of my concerns. I just felt the process so awkward and time consumer for each 'cycle' of hand/rope movement that I worried it took my focus off my climber. I thought there was too much time with the rope quasi-locked off, or completely unlocked(as in doing the 'pinch/slide' thing.

Instead, I developed my own method intuitively. I started holding the my hand(thumb toward the ATC side) in a tube shape around the rope. As I fed slack with my left hand, I unclenched the 'tube' just enough to allow rope to feed, lifting my hand position only as high away from a good lock off as was needed to feed rope. It depends on how quickly my climber climbs and yards for a clip as to how high away from the lock off I went.

Pretty much my brake hand is about the same distance from the ATC at all times, sliding toward the device only if I can't feed quickly enough to not do it. My brake hand 'position' is about the distance form the belay device to the outside of my hip.


"They," who teach the hands over the device crap, are the evil gym gumbies.
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