In this video we look at belay transitions during multi-pitch climbing. You’ll notice the theme throughout these considerations is efficiency. Time management in multi-pitch climbing is crucial when trying to make the most of daylight hours. Below are a few tips to consider for belay transitions:
1. The lead climber can notify the belayer as they near the anchor at the top of their pitch. This will allow the belayer to begin preparing to follow the climb while, of course, still ensuring a safe belay for the lead climber.
2. Keep the anchor simple and streamlined to speed your transition to climbing the next pitch.
3. Organize the rope when belaying from above. You can flake or stack the rope onto a nearby ledge or you can hang lap coils over your tie in rope. Keep these coils knee-length so they bow out—this helps reduce the likelihood they will snag when belay the leader on the next pitch. Neat coils of either style can be efficiently flipped over, pancake style (if stacked on a ledge), or flipped onto your belayer’s tie in (if leading in blocks, where the same person leads several pitches in a row).
Note: On low-angle slabs, you might instead like to make giant lap coils, shortening each as you go to avoid the snagging problem.
4. Whether swapping leads or climbing in blocks, think ahead to your next transition. Organize gear as you go, making it easily accessible for the next lead climber. Develop a system, as the follower or leader, that aids in your transitions, while still allowing swift climbing movement.
Remember time is of the essence in multi-pitch climbing. Consider a 7 pitch climb, if it takes 5 minutes to transition at the top of each pitch, that is 30 minutes of the day spent on belay transitions vs climbing.
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.