For all the lead climbers out there, there’s something you all do an awful lot of every time you lead climb and lead belay.
You feed out a lot of slack and you take in a lot of slack.
Right now we’re going to walk through how to take in a lot of slack quickly and safely.
I once got to happen upon the aftermath of an accident in a climbing gym. A woman was trying to take in slack, but was out of the brake position when her partner fell.
She was using an ATC. He outweighed her significantly, and she dropped him from about 40 feet. He was fine, but she badly burnt her hands.
The concern, when you’re taking in a large amount of slack is that your climber could fall at any moment. This could happen right after they say take, or if they try to clip and drop the rope. You want to quickly take out a lot of slack.
The Lawnmower Method of slack management
The Lawnmower Method is a quick and easy way to take in big handfuls of slack in a rush. The best part is, you’re in the brake position almost the whole time, so this method is in accordance with tube-style belay best practices.
Using the Lawnmower Method, you’ll quickly pull in a big handful of slack, and then be able to reset your hands while in the brake position the whole time, while also easily keeping your eyes on your climber.
If the climber falls at any point, it’s not a concern, because you’re already in the brake position. They may cause a foot or two of slack to run backwards through the ATC-style belay device, but this not a concern.
I’m planning on digging into little bits and pieces of how to be an amazing belayer over the next few weeks. There’s a secret connection between being/having an amazing belayer and climbing hard.
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