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How to Lower a Climber in Top-Rope Belay

Learn how to lower a climber in top-rope belay from indoor rock climbing expert Cliff Simanski in this Howcast video.


Unknown: So right now as Tiffany approaches the top of the wall she's going to need to be lowered. So before I can lower Tiffany there's a couple things we need to go through. So once Tiffany gets to the top she's going to yell.

Tiffany: Take.

Unknown: Take. Take is a command for me as a belayer to pull all the slack out of the rope getting it nice and tight. This way Tiffany knows that she can sit back in her harness and that I've got her with the belay device braked and locked. Once I can see that's Tiffany sitting back in her harness, I can feel her weight pulling on the belay device, I know that she is fully seated, I can start to lower Tiffany. So before I actually begin to lower Tiffany I'm going to ask Tiffany if she is ready to lower. Are you ready to lower?

Tiffany: Ready to lower.

Unknown: All right. So now that we've communicated I'm going to start to lower Tiffany. The first thing you want to do when lowering a climber with a petzl grigri is to put a twist in the rope so that it's oriented over this beveled section of the belay device. Once we've done that, we're going to then take our left hand to this black lever, pulling it all the way open which disengages the locking mechanism, allowing rope to feed in the opposite direction.

I'm using my right hand primarily to control the speed of the climber, just allowing the rope to feed through my hand rather than feeding it into the belay device. You'll notice Tiffany is in the proper position to be lowered, keeping her feet about shoulder width apart nice and high in front of her. So she's pushing into the wall, not down on the wall.

It's also a good idea to watch the climber as they're coming down to give you a better idea of the pace that you're lowering them. If you look at the rope it's always going to look like it's moving too quickly. Once Tiffany gets down, she's back on the ground, I can release the break end, keeping that left hand on the lever open. I'll pull up on the rope, provide a little bit extra slack for the climber to take some weight off of the knot. Tiffany can start to untie and we can switch. And that would be how to lower a climber for indoor rock climbing.

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