Belaying: An Introduction

By Don Graydon.

Belaying is a bedrock technique of climbing safety, a system of using a rope to stop a fall if one should occur. Belaying works like magic, but, like any good magic trick, it takes a lot of practice to do well and requires a basic understanding of underlying principles.
In its simplest form, a belay consists of nothing more than a rope that runs from a climber to another person, the belayer, who is ready to stop a fall. Three things make the magic work: a skilled belayer, a stance or anchor to resist the pull of the fall, and a method of applying a stopping force to the rope. There are many ways to apply this force, a variety of stances, and many methods of setting up and tying into as anchor.

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