How to perform a proper partner check for top-rope climbing

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.

Climber check

Harness

  • 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.

Two knots

  • 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.

Double-eight follow-through knot: carries the entire weight and is one of the strongest knots known to man.

Barrel knot: prevents the short end of the rope from slipping through the double-eight knot. Not required in many countries, but mandatory in Germany.

The rope should go through both tying points of the harness (but not through the carabiner loop).

The short end of the rope should be no longer than about 1.5 times the width of your palm.

The loop formed by the rope should not be much bigger than the carabiner loop of the harness.

Rope

  • 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.

Belayer check

Harness

  • The rules for the climber apply also to the belayer.

Carabiner

  • Must be attached to the carabiner loop of the harness.
  • Must be a screw-gate type and the gate must be secured.

The carabiner must be attached to the carabiner loop of the harness.

The carabiner must be a screw-gate type and the gate must be secured.

The rope must go through the carabiner.

The rope going up to the anchor point must match the image of the climber on the belaying device.

The short end of the rope must match the image of the breaking hand.

Figure-eight knot: must be tied about 1 m from the end of the rope. This prevents the rope from slipping through the ATC.

Belaying device

  • 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

Rope

Weight difference

  • 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!

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