Trad Climbing Belay

When you are trad climbing, you won’t have an extra rope with you to rig a trad climbing belay. As such you need to use the rope you are climbing with to make a belay and then bring up the climber(s).

This system is one of the most pratical in terms of ‘real’ climbing – using the rope tied to us to rig a belay as we would if we had just lead a pitch. It also has the advantage early on that you don’t need both a rigging rope and a rope for climbing on.

The Clove Hitch Exercise

Before we move onto how to tie into an anchor with a clove hitch, we are first going to experiment with this versatile hitch. So tie a clove hitch to a carabiner, with practice you can get very slick at this.

Now tie the clove hitch to a single anchor, and adjust it so you are snug, now try and pay some rope out and move further away from the anchor, again make sure the rope is snug. Then move back in and take in the slack.

Tying a clove hitch
Tying a clove hitch

Now clip a loop of rope through anchor and tie it off to a clove hitch on your belay loop, again try adjusting the length away from the anchor and back towards it. With this method you can easily adjust the tension on the rope when out of reach of the anchors.

Clove Hitch back to a HMS screwgate karabiner.
Clove Hitch back to a HMS screwgate karabiner.

Practice moving back and forwards at least a couple of feet with each method. As adjusting the clove hitch is a key skill in making belays at the top of a pitch of crag.

Tad climbing Belays – In reach/out of reach

Often we are either in reach or out of reach of the anchors we want to tie into,either way you need to work systematically, decide first where you need to stand to belay, then clip the first rope in and adjust the clove hitch so you are snug, only then go on and clip the rope into the second anchor and adjust the clove hitch.

Below shows the in reach method of making a belay on two anchors.

Start tied into the rope like you are climbing. Then attach the clove hitch to the first anchor.
Start tied into the rope like you are climbing. Then attach the clove hitch to the first anchor.
Then clove hitch the rope into the second anchor leaving some slack between the first and second anchor.
Then clove hitch the rope into the second anchor leaving some slack between the first and second anchor.
Finally clove hitch the rope back to your tie in loop.
Finally clove hitch the rope back to your tie in loop.

Next the out of reach belay method is a lot easier and works in most situations both in and out of reach. It is best to use a HMS karabiner to tie the clove hitches back to.

Again start tied into the rope like you were climbing. Then clip a loop of rope through the first anchor and tie it back to your tie in rope loop with a clove hitch.
Again start tied into the rope like you were climbing. Then clip a loop of rope through the first anchor and tie it back to your tie in rope loop with a clove hitch.
Now clip another loop through the second anchor and clove hitch this back to the same HMS karabiner that you tied the first anchor back to.
Now clip another loop through the second anchor and clove hitch this back to the same HMS karabiner that you tied the first anchor back to.

Warning

When rigging at the top of the crag you are at times unroped at the top of a substantial drop. Therefore employing some form of control may be necessary. If setting up a bottom rope this may include clove hitching into one anchor as you approach the edge, this is not a bombproof system so don’t deliberately weight it, but it may prevent a slip becoming a fall. If it is a top roping system, consider having one anchor a reasonable distance back and tie into this, again don’t weight the system until all points are equalised and under tension.

HOW TO CLIMB HARDER Courses

Intro To Trad Climbing Course

Our intro to trad climbing course are a great way to get to know loads about basic trad belays. You’ll also get a load of chance to make them yourself under the watchful eye of our coaches, before you belay off them.

We will also teach you all you need to know to leave the course ready to trad lead climb on your own.

eMail us to find out more.

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Online Manual of Rock Climbing Skills and Techniques