Belaying and Lead Climbing Tips

man and woman rock climbing with ropes in a beatiful coastal area

Belaying and leading are the two positions on a rock climbing team. Since it is important to not climb by yourself, it is just as important to know how to properly act in both positions since the team must depend on each other for their safety. These tips can help instruct both belayers and lead climbers in proper safety steps.


Don't Let Go of the Rope

A rope will hook from your harness into the belay device in order to guide a climbing partner. Feed the rope with your left hand and hold the brake with your right. Never let go with your right hand to feed. Always maintain the hold of your right hand as it is your lock-off point for the belay device. If your partner falls, the right hand should always be ready to pull back and lock the belay in place so the climber's weight is held, keeping them safe.


Stand in a stationary position where balance can be maintained in order to be alert and ready for a fall. Since the belayer is in charge of counterbalancing the weight of the climber, a firm stance is necessary to brace for the fall. Smaller belayers might consider anchoring into a larger stationary object just in case.


Once the lead climber comes to a place of either summiting or personally anchoring in, it is the responsibility of the belayer to follow behind and collect all placed protection. Use a nut tool to remove chocks or hexes by applying force in the opposite direction the chock/hex was wedged. Clip excess carabiners onto your climbing harness and place the removed protection into a sling to carry it up to the lead climber.

hands feeding climbing rope through a carabiner

Lead Climbing

Gear Racking

A quickdraw is used to clip into protection to allow pivoting and some rope slack as you climb. They should be distributed at the front of your harness on both sides for easy access. Locking carabiners should be carried at the rear of the harness to be used as an anchor when releasing the belay. A sling should carry all excess protection organized for use and be supported by your non-dominant hand.

Placing Protection

Place your first piece of protection as soon as possible to avoid climbing too far and overextending the length of fall. Avoid dragging the rope or scraping it across the terrain by using slings and quickdraws. Dragging the rope could abrade it and cause weakening.

Anchor Construction

An anchor is a place to belay from whether that is the top of the climb or the end of the rope length. The anchor is established so the belayer may follow the lead climber, removing protection. The anchor must be incredibly secure in order to ensure both climbers' safety. Place at least two forms of protection in different spots and use locking carabiners to create a stable platform for a sling to be clipped in. Twist the sling and clip it into the belay device and then into your harness. Clip yourself into the anchor before belaying the follower.