How to choose your belaying system for climbing
If you climb routes, you'll need a belaying system, also known as a belay device or descender, for your first expedition and those that follow. We're here to help you choose!
Whether for top-rope climbing or lead climbing, rock climbing or indoors, when belaying one or two climbers, a descender is an essential piece of kit! But its characteristics may vary depending on where, how and with whom you are climbing. We're here with some guidance.
You will quickly develop a personal preference for one system over another depending on the climbing site and your experience. As is often the case in climbing, it's at the rockface that we discover what works best!
Assisted braking for belaying
There are also systems with assisted braking. These can be used for both lead climbing and top-rope climbing. They require a high level of vigilance when handling to ensure the system is correctly triggered, but ensure increased safety if used properly. Petzl's Grigri, which doesn't even need presenting, comes to mind, as well as newcomers on the market such as Béal's Birdie.
If there is a significant difference in weight between the climber and belayer
If belaying or being belayed by someone heavier (or vice versa), for greater comfort and safety, you can opt for the OHM quickdraw: In the event of a fall, this device increases rope friction, enabling a lighter belayer to better hold a heavier climber.
You can climb with peace of mind, as relaxed as you would be after a yoga session Ohmmmmmmmm... do you get it? ;)
For more comfort – and therefore more safety – wear gloves when belaying. This will protect your hands from the friction and enable you to brake without injuring yourself!
It's through training that you'll become more at ease with belaying. Before getting started, read the instructions for use of your belay device – they contain important information. Then learn how to set up the system until you can perform the moves naturally!
The idea is that, at the bottom of your route, you feel at ease and safe right from the start. You can also for opt for backup belaying while you get an instinctive feel to ensure optimal security. This involves three people: one climber and two belayers, one of which is experienced.
Once you have familiarised yourself with your belay device, only change it if necessary, because by opting for another model, you'll need to get used to using a different device.
And of course... Never forget to double-check the belaying system and tie-in knot before starting the climb!