How to perform a proper partner check for top-rope climbing
The main intention of this article is to refresh your memory if you haven’t been climbing for a while. It’s not a replacement for a proper climbing course!
Top-rope climbing is always done in pairs: one climber is secured by one belayer. The climber may be inexperienced, but the belayer must be properly trained (and in Germany even properly licensed).
Partner check for top-rope climbing
The partner check is performed before the first climb and every time after switching positions:
- The climber prepares and checks himself, then checks the belayer.
- The belayer prepares and checks himself, then checks the climber.
- Prepare the harness by orienting it properly left-to-right and making sure that nothing is twisted.
- Step into the harness and pull it up.
- The leg loops should almost reach your butt and should feel fairly tight (but still allow you to slide a palm underneath).
- The belt of the harness must extend above your pelvis and be tight enough so it cannot slide down.
- Tie a double-eight follow-through knot (also known as retraced figure-eight knot)
- The rope must go through both tying points of the harness
- The loop should not be much bigger than the carabiner loop of the harness
- A proper double-eight knot consists of 10 rope runs on its upper and lower sides.
- Tie a barrel knot on the rope’s end (seconds 00:59 till 01:05 in this video)
- The short end of the rope should now be about 1.5 times the width of your palm.
- Look at the anchor point. The rope should go through two screw-gate carabiners with gates facing in opposite directions.
- The rope should not be twisted on itself.
- The rules for the climber apply also to the belayer.
- Must be attached to the carabiner loop of the harness.
- Must be a screw-gate type and the gate must be secured.
- Must be properly attached to the carabiner (this depends on your belaying device)
- Must be correctly oriented. Look at the two images engraved on the belaying device:
- The rope going up to the anchor point must match the image of the climber
- The short end of the rope must match the image of the breaking hand
- Tie a figure-eight knot about 1 m from the end of the rope.
- If the belayer is lighter than the climber, the weight difference should no exceed 25 kg.
- If it does, the belayer must attach a sand-bag to his harness.
And now enjoy your climbs and stay safe!