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Topic - Belay location question

Harvey Bartholomew on 14 Feb 2013
Noob-ish question time, please be gentle with me!

Imagine if you will that you and your buddy are aiming to climb a Scottish grade II gully route. The snow in the gully consists of an inch or so of fresh with a fairly solid base, on which both climbers are comfortable soling. The walls of the gully are bare rock with some patches of good ice.

Half way up the gully is an icy steepening, only a narrowish section of which (half a metre wide max) is actually good, solid ice - the rest is extremely thin and/or hollow with water running behind it (a slight thaw has started to set in since you left the car).

The question is: if you were going to belay the leader over the steep, icy section, where would you take the belay stance?
a) At the foot of the ice step, anchored to ice screws set in to the narrow seam of good, thick ice and with the belayer standing on crampon points;
b) A ways back down the gully, in a position that's more comfortable for the belayer but which may not allow them to see or communicate with the leader as easily, with the possibility of anchoring using rock gear instead of/in addition to ice screws;
c) other options (not including both climbers soloing the icy step).
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