Position/Stance: Facing Out

By Don Graydon.

When belaying a follower, it's normal to face out, usually with the anchor at your back as you look down to watch for your partner coming up. When belaying a leader, however, the choices are more complex.
  1. When belaying a follower: face out. With the anchor at your back, look down to watch for your partner coming up.
  2. When belaying a leader: face in to the mountain.
    • Allows you to watch your partner climb, enables you to anticipate movements and to pay out or take in rope more efficiently.
    • You may also be able to figure out how to get past some of the difficult sections when it's your turn to climb by seeing where your partner had difficulty or found a good solution to a problem.
    • You are better able to protect yourself from rockfall.
    • You are in the best position to see a leader fall start, brace yourself, and go into the braking position. Being able to see a leader fall start is a particular advantage when the first piece of protection is low and the force of the fall would tend to pull you into the rock.
  3. In the event that you are belaying in an alcove with a small roof or bulge overhead that prevents you from watching your partner and the first piece of protection is directly above you: face out. Facing out, you are in a much better position to hold an unprotected leader fall because you're not in danger of being spun around.

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