Characteristics Of the World’s Best Belayer

Embody these seven characteristics and you’ll have a better chance at becoming the belayer your partner deserves.
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Who is the one that checks that you are properly tied in before leaving the ground? Who yells out the beta that helps you move upward when you can’t find the next hold? Who helps keep you from hitting the ground after slipping off that greasy hold? Upon redpointing your project, who is the first one to praise and congratulate you? Your belayer. A climbing partnership is a two-way street, and that means that you need to be just as good of a belayer as your partner is for you. Join the #BelayBetter movement by embodying these seven characteristics.

Educated

adjective | ed·u·cat·ed | \ ˈe-jə-ˌkā-təd \

1. giving evidence of training or practice
Synonyms: skilled, knowledged, enlightened, proficient

Making sure you have your own knowledge is essential to alpine safety. It can seem fine to rely on the knowledge of others, but the group is as weak as the person who knows the least. Doing your own research, taking classes, and learning on your own time will make you a better partner.

Attentive

adjective | at•ten•tive | \ ə-ˈten-tiv \

1. paying close attention to something; mindfully observant.
Synonyms: perceptive, observant, alert, acute, aware, heedful, vigilant

Being attentive when belaying can be the difference between life and death. Don’t only watch for falls, but make sure your partner is tied in correctly, isn’t back clipping, or placing their leg between the wall and the rope.

White man in red long-sleeved shirt uses a grigri to belay another white man on the wall whose legs are in the frame.

Focused

adjective | fo•cused | \ ˈfō-kəsd \

1. having the mind fixed on something.
Synonyms: absorbed, attentive, deep, engaged, engrossed, immersed

Learn to tune out the distractions at the base of the wall and stay focused on your climbing partner. Mastering this skill will make your partner feel safer with you, which will help them climb harder and want to climb with you more.

Involved

adjective | in•volved | \ in-ˈvälvd

1. actively participating in something.
Synonyms: engaged, played a part in, shared in, took part in

Being the best belayer isn’t just about safety. Be involved in your partner’s climb. Encourage them and give beta when they want it.

Aware

Adjective | a•ware | \ ə-ˈwer \

1. having knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.
Synonyms: conscious of, mindful of, informed about, acquainted with, familiar with

Awareness of surroundings and the state of your partner is a must. Pay attention to potential dfall hazards and how your partner is doing so you can best support them.

Organized

adjective | or·ga·nized | \ ˈȯr-gə-ˌnīzd \

1. arranged and conducted in a systematic way.
Synonyms: ordered, well regulated, structured, systemized, tidy, methodical 

Organization impacts safety. Be a partner who ensures that ropes don’t get tangled. Set up efficient belay stations. Minding the details will push you from a good belayer to a great one.

White man in blue clothes feeds slack to a climber. Photo shot from below looking up at the belayer and climber.

Team player

noun | team•play•er |

1. cares more about the success of the other team members than their own success.
Synonyms: partner, teammate, collaborator

Climbing is a team sport despite how individual it can seem. Show up for your partner like they are your teammate, not your competitor. Belay non-stop. Cheer them on. Support them when they are scared.

To learn more belaying techniques, visit www.Petzl.com/belaybetter

The information contained in this article is non-exhaustive. Proper training and education is essential. In the mountains, the environment you are traveling in is inherently dangerous: You are responsible for your own actions, decisions and safety.

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