Climbers - The Belay Test - How and Why

Mar 26


Chris Haycock

Chris Haycock

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What exactly is a belay test, how and why it should always be used.


When considering a belay,Climbers - The Belay Test - How and Why Articles a belay test should always be conducted. So as to ensure the belay positions stability and security, and ability to support a fall by the climber.

In order to do this the belayer will route their safety line to an anchor point, and then position themselves for a mechanical or body belay. The belayer will then shout "On Belay Test".

The climber will respond "Testing" and proceeds to test the belay with three separate tests. The climber faces sideways to the vertical rock, with the guide hand closest to the rock leading to the belayer. The climbing rope is routed under the buttocks, and the brake hand is placed in the hollow portion of the opposite (guide hand side) hip.

The climber then takes all slack out of the rope between the climber and the belayer, and sits down with approximately a third of their bodyweight. Following this the climber removes the additional slack created by their bodyweight and sits down using approximately two-thirds of their bodyweight.

Finally the climber then removes all remaining slack out of the rope and sits down using all their bodyweight. The climber then springs up and out of the belay test stance, allowing the rope to go slack.

The belayer feels the rope slacken, and if satisfied with the belay position, will shout "Climb". The climber should respond with "Up Rope", or "Climbing". After detaching their safety line and is prepared to climb.

To recap briefly some of the main points of belaying, try to bear in mind the following. (For a more detailed explanation check out my previous articles on belaying).

Determine the guide and brake hands. The rope runs from the climber through the belayers guide hand, around the belay mechanism (body or mechanical), and to the brake hand. Ensure the rope slide smoothly. NEVER RELEASE THE BRAKE HAND FROM THE CLIMBING ROPE UNTIL THE CLIMBER IS ATTACHED TO AN ANCHOR.

Ensure the remainder of the rope is laid out so it can run freely through the brake hand. Gloves may be advisable when belaying to reduce friction on the hands and rope burns, these can easily get infected.

Make sure the rope doesn't run over sharp rock edges (padding may be required).

Anticipate the climbers needs by keeping alert to their movements. Avoid letting too much slack develop in the rope through constant use of the guide hand. Keep all slack out of the rope leading to the climber, you will then be aware of their movements and be ready if required. Don't take up slack too quickly, you could throw the climber off balance. When taking up slack, bring the brake hand just behind the guide hand. This will allow the brake hand to slide back and remain constantly on the rope..

Just a few practise sessions will make you a competent belayer and a much safer climber. Safe climbers enjoy their climbing more.