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The A+ Belay

My belaying skills are normally distributed. That means if I belay you, you will receive, on average, a “C”. On that rare occasion, I give an A+ belay.

F Minus

Here’s what it takes for the A+ belay:

1. The A+ Belay is only needed, and can only be given on a lead belay near the climbers mental or physical limit.
2. Watch the climber.
3. Use an autolocking/ autoblocking belay device as needed.
4. Yell some encouragement.
5. Sit or run back to take in slack, or feeding out slack during a fall as appropriate.
6. Stand up instead of sitting.

Extra Credit…

“C” belay. Good enough.

1. You just barely scraped through a pitch without falling. Belaying from above you hear “Take”. Feed out 3 feet of ‘encouragement’. You hear “TAKE!” again. Respond “What?” Pause. Take in slack while muttering under your breath.

2. Your partner decided to hop on a safe sport route much harder than they typically climb. As they approach the crux, be realistic. “That looks hard”, “Good try bud”, and “He’s screwed” seem to work well.

3. On ONE occasion use a hip belay to bring your partner up. When they arrive, say “belay off” and drop the rope. Every time after this your partner will wonder “does he have me on hip belay THIS time?” This will surely increase their desire not to fall.

Andrew - I guess if you look at the HIP BELAY in that way, thanks for the inspiration!February 25, 2009 – 8:50 am

Justin - Wait, your not supposed to use the hip belay every time? I always used to call out to the climber just under the crux “I have you on belay as long as you don’t weight the rope! good luck on that crux!” It seemed to foster a renewed effort on behalf of the climber.March 5, 2009 – 4:31 am

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