We all know what happens with bad belaying and with good belaying.
Good belaying and everything is sweet right? Not always - I once spent a year learning to walk again even though my belayer did everything right. They caught me, I just unluckily hit a ledge on the way through. Of course good belaying can be like the weekend, sweet soft catch when a foot unexpectedly blew and the wire was below my foot.
Bad belaying means disaster right? Actually mostly not. Bad belaying needs to coincide with a falling climber for disaster to happen. I met the results of that on the weekend. Nice bloke with a horror story and a lifetime of pain ahead. Full respect for coming back after what happened. Just what you see after years of surgery would dissuade most.
Now bad belaying is not the exclusive domain of the noob. Some of the worst belaying I have seen has been from long time climbers who take their hands off the trail rope while using an atc. Similarly I have seen other long time climbers using a gri gri with the brake hand holding it locked open to facilitate feeding with the other hand. They were NOT using it in the recommended manner - I looked. I guess they must be psychic as they know when their climber will fall even if it is unexpected.
I also recently saw someone using a gri gri to belay a trad route viparete at mt York in the blueys. Now, while I don't recommend gri gri with trad, use for me would be restricted to routes with bombproof gear and a very active awareness of stepping up if the climber falls. This was not happening in the example, belayer was casually standing hands on hips and not preparing to jump up if needed. I also note that some of the gear on this route is only as good as the shallow rock around it..........
My point: belaying is a huge responsibility and needs to be treated as such. Just because nothing has gone wrong it may still if not done properly. So everyone please check and see if you and others are doing the right thing and tactfully remind them. I sometimes don't - thanks Daniel for the reminder and best wishes.
>hands off the trail rope while using an atc. Similarly I have seen other
>long time climbers using a gri gri with the brake hand holding it locked
>open to facilitate feeding with the other hand. They were NOT using it
>in the recommended manner - I looked. I guess they must be psychic as they
>know when their climber will fall even if it is unexpected.
>thing and tactfully remind them. I sometimes don't - thanks Daniel for
>the reminder and best wishes.
Not sure what this is all about, but personally, I found the MegaJul to work quite well. It's light-weight, works on doubles and feels very similar to an ATC/reverso so it doesn't mess up your belaying habits if you switch.
I often feel that it is my civic duty to inform people using poor belaying technique about the errors of their ways, mostly people are unaware of the risks with their technique. Surprisingly this introduction has resulted in a number of new friendships, one of whom will soon be one of the groomsmen at my wedding. If you see something dangerous don't be afraid to speak up, at worst you could offend someone but it may save a life.
I try hard to be a good belayer, and to keep reminding myself that just because I've been doing something for a long time, doesn't mean I'm doing it as well as I could be. Climbing with new partners reminds me of how variable belaying standards are - but also teaches me new things. New ever skinnier ropes are a dream to lead on, but a potential nightmare for belayers - I haven't caught a really high factor fall on a 9mm rope on my ATC, and don't relish the prospect much. A recent belaying error (by a random partner) saw a regular buddy of mine dropped nearly the full length of the gym wall a month ago, and he only just escaped serious injury - and it feels like I hear stories like this all the time. So I'm trying out some of the newer locking-assist devices, specifically to regain some of the margin that the skinny ropes are whittling away. I'm trialling the Climbing Technologies Alpine Up as it most suits my needs - an interesting device, in that it works just like my beloved ATC Guide, but with a solid lock-up, ability to go hands free on rap, easy & safe lowering of the second(s) in guide mode, and very easy switching between descending and ascending doubled ropes.