For Safety’s Sake: At Least Teach Your Beginner Belayer to Load the GriGri Right
Scary (and true!) tales from a crag near you
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
See something unbelievably dumb at the crag? Email email@example.com with “For Safety’s Sake” in the subject and your story could be featured.
I was climbing in Kalymnos when a loud couple arrived next to us. I didn’t pay much attention until I heard the guy yelling from the anchors roughly 30 meters up. He was trying to explain how a Grigri works. The woman was crying and clearly uncomfortable with the situation, so I offered to help. This angered the gentleman above. He yelled for me to mind my own business. That’s when I noticed that her Grigri was loaded backwards. I decided to load the rope in my own Grigri and release the girl from her responsibilities because she was panicking and I didn’t want to witness an accident. This pissed the guy off even more, and he switched to rappelling. When he arrived on the ground, he came directly to me and told me not to interfere with his way of climbing. I told the girl she shouldn’t climb with him anymore, and they both went elsewhere.
—Stéphane, via email
LESSON: Wow. Some people are real jerks when you show genuine concern for their safety. Climbing skills should be learned on the ground, where the worst consequence is maybe dropping a belay device on your foot. Rock climbing is a serious activity and needs to be treated as such. Don’t let anyone belay you until they have their technique dialed and they feel comfortable with their abilities. Holding someone’s life in your hands can be pretty stressful for a newbie. And for god’s sakes, be gracious when someone offers advice.
Have any questions about belaying? Check out our primer, aptly called “Don’t Drop Your Partner”
We want to hear your stories! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your story could be featured in a future edition online or in print. (Photos welcome, too.)