Before You Climb
Stretching before you climb prevents injuries to cold muscles. Warm up muscles which are going to get a workout while climbing. Use a wall to stretch-out fingers and forearms. Use jugs or a hangboard to stretch-out shoulders, core and arms. Start out climbing juggy routes in order to slowly warm your body up before cranking.
Clearly not a fashion statement. Lay your harness on the floor as pictured. Step in and pull it up above your hips. Tighten waist belt and double it back through the buckle. To check for a correct fit slide an open hand down your side inside the harness and clench a fist beside your leg – you should not be able to pull your clenched fist back up past the waist belt. Leg straps should be comfortable, untwisted and allow you to march. Double back and tuck away any loose ends.
The role of a belayer is to protect the climber from falling and to lower the climber off a route once the climber has finished. A belayer’s focus should always be up! There are many belay devices used for climbing, here we use the automatic locking Gri-Gri device. A belayer’s stance should be shoulder width apart with the belay device at belly button height — use the blue/yellow tape to adjust height (blue down, yellow up). Clip belay karabiner to your harness. While belaying the belayer must have two hands on the tail end of the rope from either side of and below the belay device. As the climber climbs the belayer takes up the climbers ‘slack’, with the tops of both hands facing the ceiling pull through the loose rope hand over hand in the direction of the climbing wall. Important when the belayer isn’t taking in slack they need to ‘lock off the rope’ by holding the tail end of the rope down with both hands i.e. below the belay device. Always keep both hands on the tail end of the rope and at least a hands distance from the belay device.
When lowering the climber from the top of the wall:
- Lock off the rope with your right hand and hold it behind your back.
- The left hand cups the belay device with the thumb over the brake lever.
- Check tail end is running over smooth edge of Gri-Gri.
- With the right hand locking the rope off, hold the brake lever in the left hand with a fist grip — thumb and lever facing the ceiling. Gently pull back on the brake lever while watching your climber descend. Lower them slowly to the ground.
NOTE — Alternate belaying techniques to that described above exist. Petzl advise that only one hand (the right-hand in the case of our devices) is used to ‘lock-off the rope’ while the other hand (the left) is used to pull the slack through by pulling down on the rope from above. One advantage of using the ‘club’ method is that both hands are on the tail end of the rope which may assist in making an easier and safer transition to ATC devices. While both methods are correct, the club method (above) has been tried, tested and taught by the club in the past, and is the standard which we are promoting to new climbers. For climbers that have arrived with a different style and are unwilling to adopt the belaying method used by the club, use your discretion as a supervisor. If you’re unsure or have safety concerns, consult the other supervisors on duty before deciding on your action.
There are many ways for a climber to tie the rope to the harness, but perhaps the most common method uses the double figure-of-eight knot as shown below.
- Tie a simple figure of eight knot with enough tail remaining to tie a second knot — about two feet (A).
- The climber runs the tail through the belay loop/s on their harness (B).
- Rethread the rope tail through the first figure of eight knot by following the rope which is closest to your harness. To tie the knot ‘cleanly’ press the knot so it is flat in your hand and follow the original knot without crossing the rope over at any point (C).
- An overhand stopper knot is then used to tie-off any loose rope tail (C). Lastly, connect the ‘safety’ screw gate karabiner to your harness belay loop/s and make sure the gate is screwed closed.
A climber and their belayer need to communicate. They need to double check each others knots, karabiners and harnesses before climbing each and every time. Before you climb look up to check that your ropes aren’t twisted. When you are being belayed off the steep wall don’t forget to clip your rope into the wall. When you are finished with a rope, leave it ready for the next climbers by clipping the climbing karabiner to the belaying karabiner and taking in the slack. Both our climbing wall and bouldering cave have marked climbing routes which are graded in order to help climbers locate a suitable climb and keep track of their progress. Climbing holds on our walls are made locally by Uncarved Block and come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. They may include: Jugs, Pinches, Slopers, Crimps, footers, Pockets, and Monos. You’ll learn these over time.
- ‘Climb when ready’ = Belayer telling climber after initial checks that they are okay to climb
- ‘Climbing’ = Climber telling belayer they are off & the belayer is now responsible for taking in rope
- ‘Climb on’ = Belayer acknowledges climbers command & reassures them they’re in safe hands
- ‘Slack’ = Climber asking belayer to release some rope, i.e. rope is too tight
- ‘Take’ = Climber asking belayer to pull-through slack, i.e. climber wants a rest or clipped into anchor