Bottom Belay: How to provide an effective bottom belay

September 08, 2017

 

How to provide an effective bottom belay

 

One of most basic canyoneering tasks is to provide a safety backup, known as a "belay" to a fellow team member while the team member is rappelling down. In case the team member looses control while rappelling down, the belay will prevent the team member from falling down. There are several ways to provide a belay, the "bottom belay" also known as the "fireman's belay" is one of the simplest and most commonly used. It is simple, but in order to be effective and safe, you need to pay attention to the finer points on how to handle the rappelling rope, and your stance while providing the bottom belay.

 

The Effective Bottom Belay

Effective bottom belay step 1Stance side ways to the wall to minimize exposure to falling debris. Keep your head down to use your helmet as head protection. One arm high, and the other arm at chest level ,

Stand side ways to the wall to minimize exposure to falling debris. Keep your head down to use your helmet as head protection. One arm high, and the other arm at chest level

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Effective bottom belay step 2Put a wrap around the hand at chest level

Put a wrap around the hand at chest level

 

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If a belay is needed, your team mate should alert the bottom belayer by shouting "tension!" Person on bottom belay immediately provides tension to stop the rappeller by flexing the knees and dropping center of gravity

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Stopping rappeller by tensionning rope from the bottom

 

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How an effective belay looks from the top.

 

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How not to belay from the bottom

 

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Wrong way. Body and face are fully exposed to falling debris. Hands and arms are not ready to effectively provide rope tension

 

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Nope. Useless belay

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Body and face fully exposed. Wrap is on the wrong hand.

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How a wrong belay looks from the top. Body and face fully exposed, hands and arms not ready to put tension on rope

 

 


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