Belay Station Management and Efficient Transitions

Mikepowers Small

by Michael Powers, IFMGA
AAI Senior Guide & Director for Staff Development


From the December 2005 edition of AAI's E-newsletter

My partner and I seem to waste a lot of time at each belay station. The ropes get twisted and we spend half the time just untangling the rope. Any tricks to make the transition faster?

- John Belmont (Chicago)


Dear John,

I try to keep the rope organized as I go. If I'm using one rope I'll either stack it at my feet in one small pile, or, if there is no ledge, say, at a hanging belay, I drape coils of rope over my tie in strand. If I have a sizable ledge at the belay station I'll stack the rope into a small tight package and make sure the rope stays within the belayer's reach. This way, the belayer can easily reach the rope and remove the tangles while the leader is climbing.

Another trick is to build an anchor, using a cordelette, with both a shelf and a power point. Clip yourself (the leader) into the shelf and leave the power point open until your partner arrives at the belay stance.

Note: When using a cordelette and connecting two or more pieces of protection and then tying the cordelette together with a figure eight knot on a bight, this point is called the power point. Just a few inches above this figure 8 knot is a series of strands that come down and form individual loops. Clipping yourself into these loops is called using the shelf.

- Mike Powers

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