Preparing to belay the follower

Because there are so many things to remember and balance, setting up the belay is one of the slower tasks for beginners. The more aggressively you search for anchors and stances, the more likely you will discover a simple solution. Don't rush the visualization stage. Here are factors to consider as you complete leading a pitch and have just reached a spot to set up a belay for the follower:

Establish an anchor for yourself and clip into it, and then call out "off belay" so the follower can stop belaying and start preparing to climb. Then attend to yourself. Take off your pack and the rack of climbing hardware. Put on extra clothes, if necessary, for the long period of staying stationary while you belay.

Search out available options for belay anchors and for a stance.

Visualize the consequences if your stance collapses.

Consider other factors. Assess the rockfall danger. Make the belay comfortable enough so you can belay without distraction. Try to be in position to watch the climber and route as'you belay. An experienced climber can establish a belay that is also useful for belaying the next pitch, when the follower moves past and up into the lead.

Pick the best combination of anchor and stance, after weighing all the choices.

Check to be sure that knots are complete, that coils of rope won't snarl or catch on projections, and that your pack is conveniently nearby. For your very first belay, verify with your partner that you know the correct braking position—and that you are belaying the end of the rope that goes to the climber, not the end to the coils. (Partners should check each other's harness buckle and rope tie-in whenever roping up.)

Prepare to belay the next lead as soon as you have belayed the follower up to your position.

Continue reading here: Preparing to belay the leader

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  • Nile Aman
    How do you belay your follower?
    10 years ago