Belaying On Snow

Snow climbers choose from a catalog of techniques that provide belay protection to their rope-mates. They sometimes give belays using established snow anchors, and sometimes they give quicker and less formal belays using the ice axe. The changeable nature of snow and the difficulty of inspecting snow protection usually result in anchors that can't be considered bombproof like a good anchor in rock. But they are still effective because most mishaps on snow do not generate the high loads of rock-climbing falls. Snow falls are usually slides on relatively moderate (30- to 60-de-gree) slopes, with help from the friction of rope against snow and with no direct vertical pull.

No matter what the belaying technique, every snow belay should be as dynamic as possible to help limit the force on the anchor. The dynamic, shock-absorbing quality of climbing rope helps minimize chances of an abrupt, static stop to a fall. As a belayer, plan your stance so the force is taken on your body and dissipated as much as possible by the belay and the dynamic quality of the rope. The standard hip belay provides a more gradual, dynamic belay than mechanical belay devices. Think of the consequences if a heavy hit on a question

Mountaineering AnchorDynamic Belaying
Fig. 12-35. Two methods of connecting snow anchors: a, two pickets linked serially, top anchor supports lower anchor; h, two independent anchors with equalized connecting runner.
Technical Snow Anchor

able snow belay yanks you and any anchor off your perch.

Set up a belay close to the climbing difficulties. If you're belaying the lead climber, get out of the line of fire by setting up the belay stance to one side of the fall lineā€”not within it. If the leader is heading up on a diagonal, get outside any point where the climber's route could cross directly above you. On a ridge crest, it is not always possible to predict a fall line and plan a belay in advance. If a ropemate slips off one side of the ridge, the best reaction may actually be to jump off the opposite side, with the rope running over the ridge saving you both.

Continue reading here: Quick belays

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  • vincenza
    How to anchor and belay on snow?
    4 years ago
  • Gustavo Longo
    What snow belay for leader?
    10 years ago