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Two Important Belaying Rules

Pay Attention & Don’t Let Go


Mark Tjaden belays at Tanner Dome in southern Colorado.

Follow these two belaying rules: Pay attention to the lead climber and don't let go of the rope if he falls.

Photograph © Stewart M. Green

The two most important rules of belaying are Pay Attention and Don’t Let Go. If you always follow those two belaying golden rules then you will be a solid and competent belayer. Remember that belaying is serious business. Your climbing partner is relying on you to safeguard his life if he falls by entrusting you to be a competent belayer. A good belayer will save your life, but a bad belayer can kill you.

Pay Attention!

Always watch the climber and pay attention to what she is doing as she climbs and how you are belaying so you will always be prepared to catch and hold the climber if she falls. Don’t belay on auto-pilot, no matter how experienced you are. Belaying is serious and requires your full attention. Don’t talk on your cell phone, eat lunch, or visit with other climbers while you are belaying. The climber above you demands your full attention.

Don’t Let Go!

If your climbing partner does fall, hold onto the rope with your brake hand, lock the rope in your belay device, and don’t let go of the rope. After a fall, hold the climber in place by locking the rope in your belay device until she tells you what she is going to do next.

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