In this video we review how to belay from above the climber, as opposed to below the climber. This is most often done on multi-pitch climbs, but can also be done at the top of a single-pitch climb, such as when it is easiest for the belayer to be above the climber.
There are three main methods used to belay from above, which include:
1. Redirect Belay - In a redirected belay, the climber’s end of the rope passes through the Master Point and then into the belay device on the belay loop of the belayer’s harness.
As the climber climbs, the belayer pulls in slack, using the same techniques found in our video on “How to Top Rope Belay”. It’s kind of like a top rope belay, but the belayer is very close to the Master Point. As such, caution is urged as the belayer can easily get sucked upward and jammed into the Master Point when the climber falls, especially if that climber is heavier than the belayer. This belay method is also less effective for transitions such as escaping the belay.
2. Indirect Belay - In an indirect belay, the climber’s rope runs directly to the belayer’s harness, connected via the belay device on the belay loop--that’s a lot of belays in one sentence. The belayer is tied in, and anchored to the Master Point with a clove hitch. The belayer is positioned in line with the climber such that if the climber falls, the belayer is not pulled down or sideways. If the belayer is not well positioned, catching the climber could cause their position to change and either shock load the anchor or drop the climber a little or a lot--or even lose control of the brake hand on the belay.
3. Direct Belay - This is typically the preferred method for belaying from above. For more on this method, see our dedicated video on “Direct Belay using an Auto-Block Device”.
We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!
Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.