Climb Faster with Less Clutter Using These 6 Steps
When climbing a multi-pitch route where you’ll be swapping leads, the fastest, easiest, and safest way to transition at belays is to swap belay devices with your partner. You won’t connect yourself to the anchor with a daisy chain or clove hitch, so you’ll save time, weight, and clutter. Best of all, the system stays closed from start to finish. Here’s how:
- A climber leads a pitch, builds an anchor, and clips into the anchor using the rope they are tied in with (ideally by clove hitching to a keynose locker hanging on the anchor’s powerpoint).
- The leader pulls up any slack in the rope, then puts their following climber on belay using a hanging guide-style belay device like the Cassin Piu 2.
- The follower climbs the pitch up to the anchor. At the anchor, they simply hang on the auto-locked belay device while the belayer ties a simple overhand knot in the rope below the belay device as a safety backup.
- The belayer takes their partner’s belay device, clips it to their own belay loop, and puts the new leader on lead belay below the backup knot. Voila! The new leader is on lead belay and yet securely still attached to the anchor on “follower” belay. Carry each device pre-rigged with a smaller locking carabiner for hanging from the anchor and an HMS locking carabiner for securing the rope*. In this way, the entire system can be swapped quickly and easily without having to hunt for more gear (fewer steps is not only more efficient, it also leaves less room for error).
- While this is happening, the new leader can be racking up to lead, slamming down calories and water, and making any other adjustments they need before heading into the next pitch.
- When the new leader is ready to begin, they simply clip their lead rope through a high bolt or solid piece of gear and disassemble the auto-blocking belay device that they have been hanging on so that they can take it with them to belay their partner from the top of the next pitch. Verbal communication is very important during this step. Like any belay change-over, it is very important to be certain that the lead climber is on lead belay before detaching from the anchor.