Any climber worth their salt, knows that climbing accidents (and falling physics) surprise all of us. (Did you read the article about Chad Watkins falling on lead and getting his Achilles penetrated by the quickdraw’s carabiner! Talk about unpredictable physics!)
This Alligator Belay Technique that is taught to new TOP ROPERS throughout the world, ingrains the new climber’s muscle memory to meet the hands together at the apex of the movement. So when they are finally belaying lead, they raise the odds of having an accident. Your belay device CAN fail when your ropes are in parallel and both of your hands are extended.
Now, what happens when you add a suspect Alligator belay technique to the other ingredients of the 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell – dehydration, sleep-deprivation, fatigue, and darkness. To all of that mix, add just a TOUCH OF UNPREDICTABLE FALLING PHYSICS, and you get the results I wrote in the How To Not Die At 24 Hours Of Horseshoe Hell article.
This is exactly what I observed at the 24 Hours Of Horseshoe Hell competition while I was a volunteer. The belayer I witnessed, was using this exact method of belay. As the climber reached the anchors, the belayer fumbled about with the rope as he tried to pull in slack. Both of the belayer’s hands were extended just like every photo in this article. Zip. Thud. His climber decked.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Can you go set up a test at your gym to see what happens? Copy the technique demonstrated here in these photos. Meet both hands together at the apex of the belay movement. Have your climber weigh the rope at that exact moment. Record results.
- Don’t be stupid
- Get a fat bouldering pad beneath you
- Belayer wear gloves
- You do this at your own risk
THE CORRECT METHOD
It is easy to make the appropriate adjustments. Keep the brake hand below the device at all times. That is it. It is that easy.
Watch this video below for the CORRECT METHOD of belaying:
Having both hands above your head or above your belay device can lead to a accident. Please, stop using the alligator belay technique.
You are smart enough to make the appropriate adjustments.
Observe the Alligator Belay Technique from :31 to :35
- Climbing Magazine: https://youtu.be/FCUJrXSKWrw
- The American Alpine Club: https://youtu.be/BOIAYx-d4HE
- MeEmilyAwesome: https://youtu.be/D0q7m6Km_6s
- expertvillage: https://youtu.be/S7IPTHnD8t0
- CMRCA: https://vimeo.com/99929863
- Howcast: https://youtu.be/w5ZT9M9m_2Y
Learn a whole lot more about staying safe in the HCRBeta Injury Prevention Section.
Jason Clements is the founder of and writer for HCRBeta, Hike Climb Relax: How to… Jason has served as the President of the Kansas City Climbing Club where he grew the club from 100 members to 1000 members. Jason lives in Shawnee, Kansas and runs the cell phone recycling company, Cells for Cells, which recycles cell phones to raise money for families battling cancer.
SHOP at Dynamic Earth in Springfield, MO for all of your climbing needs.
Not around Springfield, MO? Use these Amazon links. (Yes, by using these Amazon links to purchase gear, you help to support HCRBeta.com. Thank you.