Cilmbing Safety – Belaying

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 53,521
    Certified American Mountain Guide Jason Montecalvo demonstrates belaying.

    Jason Montecalvo

    Jason Montecalvo is an instructor of rock climbing for Sportrock Indoor Climbing Centers. Jason has been leading individual and group indoor and outdoor climbing programs for children and adults for over eight years for multiple organizations including Horizons Adventure Camp where he created, organized and lead team building programs for public, corporate, and at risk and disabled youth, in areas such as hang gliding, caving, scuba, white water kayaking, and high ropes course facilitation. In addition, Jason has been teaching for Northern Virginia Community College as an adjunct climbing professor for over five years. Jason has an Associate in Science as well as a B.S. from George Mason University with his expertise being health and fitness in parks and recreation management. Jason also holds several national certifications in his area of expertise including being a Top Rope Site Manager for the American Mountain Guiding Association as well as having a Wilderness First Responder certification from Wilderness Medical Associates. As an avid outdoor athlete, Jason most memorable climbing accomplishment was climbing multi-pitch routes out west in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and tough single pitch sport climbing routes in the east at the New River Gorge in West Virginia. Jason has lived and in the Northern Virginia DC metropolitan area for 28 years but has a great passion for the west coast and New England regions of the country for all areas of outdoor recreation and sport; in particular, climbing, snowboarding and mountain biking.

    Jason Montecalvo: Hi! My name is Jason Montecalvo with Sport Rock Climbing Centers and today we are learning how to safely climb in an indoor rock climbing facility. Remember climbing is inherently a dangerous activity and you want to seek professional help by certified climbing instructors prior to engaging in this. Next, what I would like to talk about is learning how to belay safely in an indoor climbing gym. First thing, we need is locking karabiner and belay device. We also need to identify the fact that we need the belay line, not the climbing line when we start to belay. This is the line farthest from the wall. First thing that I want to do as a belayer is to clip my two pieces together. My karabiner to my ATC, to my belay device. I will take by the belay device now and I will clip my karabiner to my belay loop. At this point, I want to discuss my three jobs as a belayer. Job number is to take the slack out of the rope as the climber ascends. Job number two is to catch the climber if they were to fall or they need a rest and job number three is going to be lowering the climber back down to the ground safely when they are done climbing. The first thing I need to do to load my device properly is to get a bite of rope, a bite of rope, is rope that is very right next to each other side by side and it looks like a loop. We are taking this bite and we are going to force it through the bottom of my belay device. If I am right handed, I would use the right hole, if I am left handed I will use the left hole. Going to force it down through the bottom of the device, now I need to capture this piece of rope inside my karabiner, in order to do so, I will pull that rope down. I will open my karabiner gate. I will my slide my rope in and now I need to lock my screw gate down. Not only do I need to lock it but I need to make sure its locked by squeezing the karabiner to make sure that I am locked. Next I will identify the fact that I have a break end of the rope and then a lead end that goes up to the anchor at the top. The break needs to be coming out to the bottom of the device and it is loaded properly on my harness now. At this point I can show you how we are going to take out slack job number one for a belayer. We are going to use a series of commands called, pull, pinch and slide. We have two hands that we need to use, our guide hand which is my left hand and a break hand which is my right. The number one rule in belaying is that I can never take break hand off of the rope. In order to do this properly, I am going to use the commands pull, pinch and slide. Which will look like this, pulling out slack, taking my guide hand off ,pinching the rope outside of my break hand and sliding my break hand back down the rope and I will repeat, pulling out slack, pinching and sliding my break hand back, continuing on as the climber climbs up the wall. Notice my break hand is never coming off the line and that I am pinching outside of my hand. Notice also, that I am using my left hand, my guide hand in order to pull slack down into the device as my right hand pulls out the slack. Pinching and sliding, pulling, pinching and sliding, pulling, pinching and sliding that is job number one. Job number two is catching the climber if they were to fall. If they were to fall, I will simply go down to this position between my legs, making this break bend in the rope. This bend takes an awful lot of friction and I am able to hold the climber up if they were to fall or they need a rest with very little effort. I am not using my muscle I am simply using this bend in the rope. The bend doesnt need to be around your waist, it just needs to be right down, beneath my legs, making sure this bend is activated. At this point if the climber would like to continue climbing, I can continue belaying by pinching, sliding, pulling, pinching and sliding. Once they get to the top, they are going to need to lean back into the rope and hang, therefore I need to put a break on. At this point, I am going to put two hands on to my break. Once I have two hands on to my break, the climber can lean back into the rope, put their weight into rope and I can slowly start to lower them down by loosening the grip on my hands and letting the rope slide through my hands. I will not raise the break, I would keep break down into its position. If they were coming too fast, I simply squeeze and stop them and then I can safely lower them at a safe speed back down to the base. Once they have gotten back down, we have now finished the belay process and next we will begin to learn our safety checks.