Climbing Safety – How to Utilize a Complete Belaying System

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 21,119
    Certified American Mountain Guide Jason Montecalvo demonstrates how to utilize a complete belaying system.

    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.

    My name is Jason Montecalvo with Sportrock Climbing Centers and today were learning how to safely climb in an indoor rock climbing facility. Remember, rock climbing is inherently dangerous activity; you need to seek professional help from certified instructors before engaging in this.

    Now Id like to show you the full system in action. In terms of using a climber, a belayer, and a back-up belayer to safely climb indoors. At this point, were going to need to accomplish our safety checks and were going to do that by again, utilizing our A-B-Cs, A standing for Anchor, making sure that the anchor is tight, my stance is correct and the carabiner is locked. Next, shell check my harness making sure that its snug and closed. Well work our way up, checking my carabiner to make sure its attacked to my belay loop. Next, making sure that my carabiner is locked, and last, that Ive hooked up my belay device correctly with the rope caught into the carabiner as well as the brake coming out of the bottom of the device or away from my body.

    Next, well go to C, C for Climber. First, I will check that our harness is snug and all of our buckles are closed. Next, I will make sure that she is tied in through two points of contact being her crotch loop and her waist loop. I will work my way out making sure that her Figure Eight Follow Through is tied correctly with three sets of parallel lines and then Ill make sure that her backup knot is finally tied correctly as well with an equals and then the cross with the X on the other side leaving a little bit of extension for her double overhand safety knot.

    At this point, were done with our A-B-Cs and were ready to climb utilizing our correct belay commands. The first command will come from my climber and shell ask a question.

    On belayOnce the rope is tight, I can reply belay is on and now shell ask me one more question.

    ClimbingClimb on. At this point, Im going to be taking up the slack as she climbs by using our method of pull, pinch, and slide, keeping the rope very tight as my back-up belayer allows a little bit of slack in the brake as well. So, he can catch the climber in case I have a problem with my brake hand. I want to make sure that I keep this rope tight, the entire way up and if she ever needs a rest TakeShe will say take Ill take out any of the stretch, put the brake on and hold her up. If she needs a minute or two to shake out she can do that and whenever she is ready to continue onClimbingShe will say climbing get back on the wall and continue climbing as I pull, pinch, and slide, the slack that builds up as she ascends. As she is going up my back-up belayer continues to pay full attention with two hands on the break, putting a little bit of slack in the line there and making sure that he has two hands ready to catch at any time. My stance is correct with my right foot ahead and my left foot back since I am a left-handed belayer. Nice job! Keep using those feet. Very good!

    FallingNow, she just said falling and what I did there as a belayer is, I immediately went down to the brake and caught her, didnt really think about taking out any of the stretch in the rope, just wanted to catch her immediately. As soon as she is back on the wall, she will sayClimbingShe will say climbing and she will continue on and Ill continue my process of pull, pinch, and slide, never taking my break hand off the rope which is my left hand in this case. Nice work! And we of course need our back-up belayer to be paying full attention and not to get caught up in watching the climber as entertainment but he is there for safety as well. So, full attention by myself and then by my back-up belayer is necessary.

    TakeOnce she has reached the top she has just said take Ill take out any of the stretches Ill put two hands on my brake to appropriately lower. Ill tell her on me which will basically tell her that I have the brake, shell get into a lowering position at this point. Lowering position looks like a big L meaning that her legs are out onto the wall, the soles of her feet are flat onto the wall and shes leaned back into her harness. At this point, as I slowly release the slack she will walk backwards down the wall. Before doing that I will tell her lowering. Lowering, she will slowly walk, controlled down the wall; she will not bounce or hop. So, this can be a very, very safe lower. My back-up belayer is slowly giving me slack to feed into my device as I need to lower her. He is maintaining two hands on the brake as well as myself. A nice, safe speed to lower your climber is extremely important in climbing especially as we get towards the bottom where the ground is coming up at her. At the point, Ill let her know the ground is there and once she touches down I will feed her a little bit of the slack to make it comfortable for her to untie and Ill tell her that I am now off belay.