What Exactly is Rock Climbing Belay?

By: Muna wa Wanjiru

Rock climbing belay is one of the most commonly used words in rock climbing. The perfect definition for the word Belay is to protect or to provide safety. The most common use in case of rock climbing is to provide safety for a climber by means of a rope, belay device and harness.

Taking in the rope through the belay device as you climb makes sure you have adequate friction. During a fall, belayer increases the friction to stop the fall by holding the rope and locking it to the side. This is rock climbing belay.

Other importance of the word rock climbing belay is common in related techniques used in mountaineering. The most ordinary of those is self-belay.

Another type of rock climbing belay is passive protection. A category of climbing gears that climbers place in the rock to anchor themselves to the rock. Passive protection generally has no moving parts and does not scar the rock when it is placed in. Pebbles and a little larger stone were first used for this principle.

They were gathered at the bottom of the cliff and wrapped with cord as they were slotted into the cracks in the rocks. Machine nuts played an important role in the evolution of climbing.

Nuts used to secure bolts are machine nuts. These are widely used in construction of bridges and in the auto industry apart from a host of other applications. One advantage of these nuts is that the hole in their center made it convenient to sling the cord through them.

One disadvantage was that even though they were by far a better alternative to the rock, they tended to get stuck on the rocks frequently. Modern passive protection was developed in the middle of 1960's. They are called the Nuts and Hexagonals and they work on the very same principle as their predecessors. They are designed to be light in weight, compact and easily removable from the cracks of the rock.

Top roping is a form of rock climbing where safety for the climber is provided through a rope strung from the top of the cliff.

As the climber goes up the cliff, his partner starts to pull the other end of the rope by using a friction-device. This way of providing security for the climber is called belaying.

Spring Loaded Camming Devices are the most modern type of rock climbing belay available. Entirely Different from the Passive Protection, and camming devices these actively expand to fit into the rock they are placed in. They come in many different sizes and are color coded for easy recognition.

You need cracks that are parallel in order to fix and use the camming devices. These devices are very useful if placed in a strategic position as they can hold quite a lot of weight. "Friends" was the name of the camming devices that were first introduced on a commercial basis. This introduction created quite an impact in the field of rock climbing. Climbers were able to clear and climb cracks that were otherwise difficult to climb due to lack of support for placing protections.

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