Apr 1, 2018


  After one of the most memorable winters, spring is getting closer even in the central Alps and Chamonix. Even though it was snowing down to 550mts this very morning and some 40cm fresh pow at Aiguille du Midi, again!
Pas de Chevre
But the warmth from the sun is getting reminded as soon it beats the clouds. And already we have had time to enjoy some afternoons of sports climbing in the valley l´Arve.
So its time to look over the dragging equipment and maybe repeat some of the technical stuff, like the belay devices and the way of belaying.
Couloir Spéciaux - Contamines
  Way to often I see people belaying their partner in such an uncontrolled and unemotional way. With just way to much rope out and never active in their belaying. Which in an event of a fall, its just unnecessary long and with a greater risk of injury.
An active belayer has many advantages while climbing.
A few;
#It makes the lead climber more safety
#The lead climber can relax and climb in a higher level and confidence
#Less stress on the equipment
#Less boring time for the belayer
#More professional and fun
One very bored belayer...this lead climber will in best case just get a long flight...
A very bored belayer, but at least he got a mail or SMS!?
The art of belaying is so much more then just feeding the rope trough a belay device. Sometimes a self-locking device like the traditional Gri Gri is the best solution. But sometimes it locks the rope to hard, like on a badly protected trad route. When you want a softer brake in the event of a fall.
Also it is sometimes a good idea to have the belayer secured for up-air pull if the leader falls, but there is also reasons not to. When you want more dynamic in the system.

All depending on the route, climbers weight and how the terrain below looks like.
So there is not just one single answer in this matter, put in details it is as complex as the climb almost! And with a "on his toes belayer" its a good source for staying safe.
Inspired belayer...
  The worst cases are the ones who just feed out the rope, and why not at the same time as they are talking to their long time seen friend of checking their Facebook.
Or just being bored on the ground, not engaged in the climb and achievement of the lead climber.
With a huge loop of rope around their feet´s and legs.

Proper technique
Always be alert with your leader. The rope connected between you is like a living wire which directly gives an induction of the living performance above. With some living slack in the rope, sometimes more, sometimes less. But always some free rope of movement. 

When its time to clip, feed out rope with your arm and take a step forward as well to reduce the friction.
The worst and shitty situation is when I pull up the rope just to be stucked some 10cm below the clip, cause the rope gets tight!
Feel and feed!!
Next, specially with a high clip, pull in the free rope when the leader climb/moves upwards towards the last pro placed. And be observant to start feeding abut again once the piece is passed.
All this make the whole experience more interesting for the belayer and so much more joy for the leader. At least if you like to avoid long unnecessary falls, hitting some rock on the way down...

 A couple of really good tests regarding belaying, anchors and forces done by Petzl and Black Diamond, which gives a good reminder of the value of good techniques and proper rope- and equipment handling.

BlackDiamond Equipment
Petzl Forces at work

Climb safe, and watch your partner!