Establishing A Belay

A belay can be established using either a direct or indirect connection. Each type has advantages and disadvantages. The choice will depend on the intended use of the belay.

a. Direct Belay. The direct belay removes any possible forces from the belayer and places this force completely on the anchor. Used often for rescue installations or to bring a second climber up to a new belay position in conjunction with the Munter hitch, the belay can be placed above the belayer's stance, creating a comfortable position and ease of applying the brake. Also, if the second falls or weights the rope, the belayer is not locked into a position. Direct belays provide no shock-absorbing properties from the belayer's attachment to the system as does the indirect belay; therefore, the belayer is apt to pay closer attention to the belaying process.

b. Indirect Belay. An indirect belay, the most commonly used, uses a belay device attached to the belayer's harness. This type of belay provides dynamic shock or weight absorption by the belayer if the climber falls or weights the rope, which reduces the direct force on the anchor and prevents a severe shock load to the anchor.

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