Procedure For Managing The Rope

A number of different belay techniques are used in modern climbing, ranging from the basic "body belays" to the various "mechanical belays," which incorporate some type of friction device.

a. Whether the rope is wrapped around the body, or run through a friction device, the rope management procedure is basically the same. The belayer must be able to perform three basic functions: manipulate the rope to give the climber slack during movement, take up rope to remove excess slack, and apply the brake to halt a fall.

b. The belayer must be able to perform all three functions while maintaining "total control" of the rope at all times. Total control means the brake hand is NEVER removed from the rope. When giving slack, the rope simply slides through the grasp of the brake hand, at times being fed to the climber with the other "feeling" or guide hand. Taking up rope, however, requires a certain technique to ensure the brake hand remains on the rope at all times. The following procedure describes how to take up excess rope and apply the brake in a basic body belay.

(1) Grasping the rope with both hands, place it behind the back and around the hips. The hand on the section of rope between the belayer and the climber would be the guide hand. The other hand is the brake hand.

(2) Take in rope with the brake hand until the arm is fully extended. The guide hand can also help to pull in the rope (Figure 6-21, step 1, page 6-34).

(3) Holding the rope in the brake hand, slide the guide hand out, extending the arm so the guide hand is father away from the body than the brake hand (Figure 6-21, step 2).

(4) Grasp both parts of the rope, to the front of the brake hand, with the guide hand (Figure 6-21, step 3).

(5) Slide the brake hand back towards the body (Figure 6-21, step 4).

(6) Repeat step 5 of Figure 6-21. The brake can be applied at any moment during the procedure. It is applied by wrapping the rope around the front of the hips while increasing grip with the brake hand (Figure 6-21, step 6).

Figure 6-21. Managing the rope.

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