Belaying is a bedrock technique of climbing safety, a system of setting up the rope to hold a climber in the event of a fall. Belaying works like magic, but like any good magic trick, it takes a lot of practice to do well and requires a basic understanding of underlying principles.
In its simplest form, a belay consists of nothing more than a rope that runs from a climber to another person, the belayer, who is ready to put immediate friction on the rope to stop a fall. Three things make the magic work: a skilled belayer to apply friction to the rope, a stance or anchor to take the forward pull of the fall, and a method of amplifying the friction of the belayer's hand. There are many ways to amplify this friction, a variety of stances, and any number of methods for tying into the anchor. This chapter introduces the principal techniques and major options of belaying, so you can choose the methods that work best in your own climbing. The last section introduces the physics of belaying; you can skip this until you are thoroughly familiar with the procedures.
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