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“Belay Off”

A Climbing Command for Going Off Belay


Brian Shelton with Front Range Climbing Company on belay duty at Red Rock Canyon, Colorado.

The belayer says "Belay off" to warn the climber that he has taken him off belay.

Photograph © Stewart M. Green

“Belay off” is a climbing command that means “I no longer have you on belay because you have told me ‘Off belay’ and you are safe.” The command is said by the belayer to the climber after the climber says “Off belay,” which means the climber is in a safe place, is attached to anchors, and doesn’t need to be belayed anymore.

“ Belay Off” Said by Belayer

It’s important for the lead climber to communicate when he reaches a belay ledge after leading a pitch. If you’re leading, when you reach a belay ledge 150 feet up, it’s important that you let your belayer know when you’re safely tied into your anchors by yelling down “Off belay.” Then, after you have put your partner on belay with the climbing rope, you say to the climber below, “On belay.” Then the climber below knows that he’s safe and can take apart his anchor and begin climbing. The usual response after hearing the leader say, “Off belay” is for the belayer below to shout up to the climber above, “Belay off.”

Chain of Commands

Lead Climber: “Off belay.” Said when leader is secure and safe.
Belayer: “Belay off.” Takes leader off belay and gets ready to climb.
Lead Climber: “On belay.” This signals to second climber below that the leader is ready for him to climb.
Belayer now Climber: “Ready to climb.”
Lead Climber now Belayer: “Climb!”
Climber: “Climbing!”

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