/ Safe take me off belay!

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jamie ward - on 28 Jul 2013
In the past week at various crags in the Peak District I have heard climbers tell their partners they are safe the moment they reach the top of their climb, they then mess about on the top of the crag with ropes around ankles looking for anchors with the wind blowing on their backs and endless pieces of gear jangling all over the place, they are still working at height on the edge of a crag and apparently are SAFE! I don't know whose teaching these people but common sense would tell you to set up your anchors/belay (Or at least a part of it) clip into whilst still on belay, once this has been done your are then SAFE or SAFER then you was before your mate was instructed to take you off belay blissfully unaware that he could end up next to you or splat on your new 5:10's still in their box.
I have had to mention it at least 6 times to various parties this week, old and young climbers,climbing alone or within a group, the response from most has been positive and where happy to take on board my suggestions, however the worrying thing was that most climbers knew that this was wrong and they just did it because friends were doing or just down to laziness not ignorance.....worrying
deacondeacon - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward: I always say safe when I've topped out on a climb if I feel safe. Most (infact all) of my partners do this too unless we are climbing multi pitch where I tend to make my self a part of the belay first.
Sometimes when out for a walk I might even take a peek over the edge of a crag without putting a harness on and building an anchor. ;)
highclimber - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward: I never take my climber off belay until they are actually safe though this can be hard to determine on some crags I'd rather keep them on until they are ready for me to climb.
Jamie B - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

I often do this on single-pitch terrain, or anywhere with a flat crag-top. If I'm looking around for belays, which may involve a fair bit of walking back and forth it's easier to do so while not fighting rope drag. It also means that my partner can put his shoes on, get a drink, change his top, start stripping the belay, whatever.

I have to say that I'd be pretty incredulous if someone chose to give me a lecture for doing this!
idiotproof (Buxton MC) - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
If I am in a situation where I would quite happily potter round with no harness on (i.e just an edge on a walk) then I will say SAFE. If feeling a bit eek-y then will get them to keep me on

I don't see any problem with this... climbing is all about judgement calls, such as climbing past a bomber placement as you are happy at the grade and dont feel the need for pro.
Jon Stewart - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

Not worrying at all. When I top out at on a single pitch route, I am back on the ground. I am safe.
Postmanpat on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to jamie ward)
>
> I often do this on single-pitch terrain, or anywhere with a flat crag-top. If I'm looking around for belays, which may involve a fair bit of walking back and forth it's easier to do so while not fighting rope drag. It also means that my partner can put his shoes on, get a drink, change his top, start stripping the belay, whatever.
>
>
I once saw a bloke in Japan shout "safe" when he reached an enormous very slightly sloping ledge at the top of a pitch/climb. His second let go off the rope, the leader slipped on some gravel and fell 70 feet. He died later.

Since then I never hour "safe" until I'm attached.
Mark Collins - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to deacondeacon:
> (In reply to jamie ward) I always say safe when I've topped out on a climb if I feel safe. Most (infact all) of my partners do this too unless we are climbing multi pitch where I tend to make my self a part of the belay first.
> Sometimes when out for a walk I might even take a peek over the edge of a crag without putting a harness on and building an anchor. ;)

Sh*t, me too. Spooky!
Jamie B - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to idiotproof (Buxton MC):

> If I am in a situation where I would quite happily potter round with no harness on (i.e just an edge on a walk) then I will say SAFE. If feeling a bit eek-y then will get them to keep me on

So in fact it's almost as if you are shouting "safe!" at the moment at which you feel safe. And this could be due to being strapped onto a big rock or stood on a big flat ledge - revolutionary!
Jamie B - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:

> I once saw a bloke in Japan shout "safe" when he reached an enormous very slightly sloping ledge at the top of a pitch/climb. His second let go off the rope, the leader slipped on some gravel and fell 70 feet. He died later.

I'm not arrogant enough to say that will never happen to me, but I believe that I can make an acceptable risk assessment. Isn't that what climbing is about?
Skip - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to deacondeacon:
> (In reply to jamie ward) I always say safe when I've topped out on a climb if I feel safe. Most (infact all) of my partners do this too unless we are climbing multi pitch where I tend to make my self a part of the belay first.
> Sometimes when out for a walk I might even take a peek over the edge of a crag without putting a harness on and building an anchor. ;)

I'm the same. If i have topped out on a single pitch and feel comfortable with my position and in no danger i will call "safe", then build my belay. Everyone i regularly climb with does the same.
Postmanpat on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
>
> [...]
>
> I'm not arrogant enough to say that will never happen to me, but I believe that I can make an acceptable risk assessment. Isn't that what climbing is about?

Yes but when you've seen what looked like a reasonable decision go wrong one gets a bit more conservative.
punj - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward: i see no benefit in getting my belayer to take me off until im secured in and ready to take in the slack, doesn't speed things up even just means im pointlessly unsecured when i could be secured. why temp fate?
scottdurrant - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward: it's the climbing films that probably encourage it, I've seen a few (including the new trailer for the new range of wild country harness) where as soon as the climber reaches the top they shout safe. Personally I'll say safe when I've set up a belay and am attached to it.
3 Names - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to all:

belay or no belay, ill shout safe when im safe.

None of this always or never bollox!
mattrm - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

This depends a lot on the crag. But normally there's an obvious bit of gear where the belay is, so I'll normally, place that and tie a clove hitch onto the piece and then yell safe. But if it's a fairly flat top, then I'll often just yell safe.
nniff - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:
The thing is, I'm not 'working at height' - I'm out cragging, which is different. I say that I'm safe when I am, whether I'm tied to something or otherwise comfortable with my current and future positions. Adherence to safety regulations does not feature, but general good practice, common sense and judgement do
lithos on 28 Jul 2013
5 out of 10
redsonja - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward: I only shout safe when im on belay
ice.solo - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

Im lazy. 3 obvious yanks on the rope means take me off belay and start climbing all in one. Consider me not safe till indicated otherwise.
I am clear on this before starting climbing.
nastyned - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward: No shout of safe from me until I'm tied in, it's still at a cliff edge.
johnj on 28 Jul 2013 - 86.112.78.158 whois?
In reply to jamie ward:

I heard a guy tied on at popular end car park in case he fell off the foot path then he still had his rack on at the Leadmill at 2 in the morning in case he tripped up when buying a pint.

0.76287654/10
Jonny2vests - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to highclimber:
> (In reply to jamie ward) I never take my climber off belay until they are actually safe though this can be hard to determine on some crags I'd rather keep them on until they are ready for me to climb.

They'd have to drag all the slack through the plate though.

And to all these people who stay on until they're anchored, what if one of your pieces is 10m back?

Personally for me, 'safe' means take me off I'm anchored, 'take me off' means take me off, I've done a risk assessment and I'm happy to move around untethered.
timjones - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

It's a personal decision, there isn't a right or wrong, each climber will assess the risks and act accordingly.

You don't have to mention it to anyone!
colina - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to johnj:
thing that REALLY piss me off is when on a crag especially with a lot of climbers (think idwal slabs) ,someone shouts "off belay" "safe" etc without saying their parteners name ,a lot safer is you were to say "off belay john", "safe john" so at least you know it is you they are shouting the instruction too!
good practice I think
!
Milesy - on 28 Jul 2013
If its single pitch where I know the terrain at the top and comfortable ill shout safe when I feel safe and want the freedom with the rope. If the belay is best done sitting over the ledge or where I want to be able to see and guide a second up or I'm worried about the rope over a sharp edge I might wait until I'm secured before shouting safe.
Timmd on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to colina:
> (In reply to johnj)
> thing that REALLY piss me off is when on a crag especially with a lot of climbers (think idwal slabs) ,someone shouts "off belay" "safe" etc without saying their parteners name ,a lot safer is you were to say "off belay john", "safe john" so at least you know it is you they are shouting the instruction too!
> good practice I think
> !

I read something very funny about two pair being confused because of this. It was funny because nothing happened and they all thought 'blimey' etc.
Flashy - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

Awarding 2/10 in order to give your intelligence the benefit of the doubt! If not a troll then oh dear...
JamieSparkes - on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to colina: much better name first, tunes in the listeners ear before the instruction!
Roberttaylor - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward: I never use any calls at all. I get the top of the climb and build the belay then start belaying my second up. We continue to belay one another till the rope comes taught and my second starts climbing.

This is the safest way to do it.

Sometimes I can't be arsed and just solo the route then moonwalk off down the descent.
colina - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to JamieSparkes:
> (In reply to colina) much better name first, tunes in the listeners ear before the instruction!

good point


MikeTS - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

An old guy I climb with is extreme in this situation. On a sports climb, even after you've been lowered back down and are standing next to him on the ground, he won't take you off belay until you've said safe.
JJL - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:
3/10

lcb
GrahamD - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

I think its worth having two calls. One of "safe" when you really are safe and one of "take me off" or somesuch when you want to be unclipped - maybe because you need to go and hunt for a belay stake.

I find the different calls useful as a reminder that I am off belay and definately not safe - on my own judgement. But each to their own. People falling off the top of the crag doesn't seem to happen that often.
Neil Williams - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor:

"This is the safest way to do it."

I was thinking about this while, umm, climbing this weekend. It occurred to me that the rope could go tight if you were trying to use it to tie to a piece of the belay which was a bit far back and you underestimated the amount of rope needed. Then the second starts climbing without you belaying them.

So it's not all that clear cut. The absolute safest would be to use that approach of never taking the leader off but *also* use calls/tugs to signal when the second should climb.

Neil
knighty - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

I always shout "I'm there" when I get to the top (be it topping out at single pitch or reaching a belay point on multi pitch) so my belayer knows that they will have to be paying out a bit of slack. I generally don't shout safe until I have at least one bit of solid gear in.
Postmanpat on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to jamie ward)
>
> I think its worth having two calls. One of "safe" when you really are safe and one of "take me off" or somesuch when you want to be unclipped - maybe because you need to go and hunt for a belay stake.
>
I hope you brief you're second on what they mean! I'm pretty sure most people would assume that if you wanted to be unclipped then you were safe, and if you were safe you were happy to be unclipped.
jkarran - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

Surely common sense dictates you make a judgement call. Flat crag top with anchors a way back... if you can rig it safely without staying on you can call SAFE. Sloping sandy ledge where you're groveling around for shin level gear in a howling gale... sort the belay before calling SAFE.

A lot of the Eastern edges belays are in the former category and being off belay while sorting the gear makes the process a lot quicker and it needn't be unsafe.

jk
Jamie B - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to GrahamD:

> I think its worth having two calls. One of "safe" when you really are safe and one of "take me off" or somesuch when you want to be unclipped - maybe because you need to go and hunt for a belay stake.

In general I'd aim for fewer calls and not more. Increasingly I'm thinking that climbing calls are only useful in an environment in which they are clear and unambiguous, and that elsewhere they can create confusion and a tyranny that climbers can be reluctant to deviate from. I'm all for situational awareness and adaptability.
GrahamD - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:

> I hope you brief you're second on what they mean! I'm pretty sure most people would assume that if you wanted to be unclipped then you were safe, and if you were safe you were happy to be unclipped.

As far as the second is concerned, there is very little they can do once I'm unclipped. It does help to understand why the rope is apparently been taken in quickly as I'm off to find a belay stake rather than I'm that I'm safe, taking in and they are able to climb shortly. I'll call "safe" when I am safe in any case.

Its probably different if you are used to climbing with a leader who calls "safe" before being tied in. I never do.

jkarran - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:

> I hope you brief you're second on what they mean! I'm pretty sure most people would assume that if you wanted to be unclipped then you were safe, and if you were safe you were happy to be unclipped.

What practical difference does it make at the belayer's end, both calls trigger the same action?

jk
GrahamD - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

> In general I'd aim for fewer calls and not more.

In general you are right. The only important one is "safe".

John_Hat - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

Like others, I shout safe when I feel safe. If I'm on a big flat ledge a.k.a. the top of the crag then I generally feel safe.

If I don't feel safe, for any reason, I won't call "safe", and will stay on belay.

The circumstances under which one person will feel "safe" are different to those under which another will feel "safe". Wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same?
johncoxmysteriously - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

>I have had to mention it at least 6 times to various parties this week, old and young climbers,climbing alone or within a group, the response from most has been positive and where happy to take on board my suggestions, however the worrying thing was that most climbers knew that this was wrong

I'm more worried about the fact you've apparently been receiving polite replies. Obviously any climber with more than five minutes' experience would ignore you, but I'd have thought any climber worth their salt would in addition have called you a twerp and suggested you go forth and multiply. I wonder what Don Whillans would have done, for example.

jcm
Postmanpat on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
>
> [...]
>
> What practical difference does it make at the belayer's end, both calls trigger the same action?
>
> jk

Exactly, so why have two?
JIMBO on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward: taking into account where you were I think I'd have been more concerned about the quality of belays and belaying than a man standing on the flat top out of Stanage...
jkarran - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:

> Exactly, so why have two?

I don't but then nor do I stick with the 'standard' calls when communication is easy, I just say what I'm doing and ask for what I need. Hundreds of people braying 'SAFE' from the top of a busy crag is anything but...

Use names, speak clearly and ensure received instructions are understood correctly before acting on them. Works perfectly.

When communication is tough I agree a simple, robust plan before leaving sight/earshot.
jk
Jimbo C - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

Nothing wrong with untying when you're a couple of paces back from the edge on a flat crag top. I usually set up my first anchor and anchor myself to it with enough rope to reach the crag edge before I approach it.

Oh, and this is getting a few biters, so 6/10
Michael Gordon - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
>
> What practical difference does it make at the belayer's end, both calls trigger the same action?
>

It's not always clear to the belayer if you've reached easy ground
and are going to have to hunt around for a while, or if you've just slung a massive block and really are safe. So if nothing else, it keeps them informed and doesn't leave them wondering what the hell is taking so long.
Merlin - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to idiotproof (Buxton MC):

Agreed.
Christheclimber - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to jamie ward)
>
> Surely common sense dictates you make a judgement call. Flat crag top with anchors a way back... if you can rig it safely without staying on you can call SAFE. Sloping sandy ledge where you're groveling around for shin level gear in a howling gale... sort the belay before calling SAFE.
>
> A lot of the Eastern edges belays are in the former category and being off belay while sorting the gear makes the process a lot quicker and it needn't be unsafe.
>

> jk

Agreed
Swsloper - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward: would never do that... Risk and reward just not worth it, what if your belayer slipped and tumbling down you come. Just no need for it
Big Lee - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

I often shout safe before my belay is fully rigged if the ground is good and I deem there no more chance of falling off than on a scramble route. It means my partner can start getting ready. In the same way I'll often start taking my belay apart after my partner has shouted safe if my belay stance is good and I deem there no chance of me falling off. It makes for efficient climbing and I don't consider myself to be taking unnecessary risks. I would certainly immediately shout safe when topping out on most grit stone crags. I'd say there was more chance of having an accident on the descent routes, which everybody solos, than on the top of ther cliff. I'm surprised the OP received such positive feedback from these 'young and old climbers'. I think my feedback would have been a lot less constructive!
Simon Caldwell - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to Swsloper:

I think you need to find yourself a new belayer
Rob Naylor - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to colina:
> (In reply to johnj)
> thing that REALLY piss me off is when on a crag especially with a lot of climbers (think idwal slabs) ,someone shouts "off belay" "safe" etc without saying their parteners name ,a lot safer is you were to say "off belay john", "safe john" so at least you know it is you they are shouting the instruction too!

There was one time when we had 7 Robs in our club, all active climbers who went on most meets. This did not work :-)
another_mark on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:
> (In reply to Jamie B)
> [...]
>
> Yes but when you've seen what looked like a reasonable decision go wrong one gets a bit more conservative.


So that's how it started ;)
Jackwd - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

> I have had to mention it at least 6 times to various parties this week, old and young climbers,climbing alone or within a group, the response from most has been positive and where happy to take on board my suggestions, however the worrying thing was that most climbers knew that this was wrong and they just did it because friends were doing or just down to laziness not ignorance.....worrying

I wouldn't feel very positive about it, and tell you to mind your own business. There's enough people like you telling people what to do, and how to think already, that they should be doing this or that, nose off. Who do you think you are telling me how I should be doing something, I'm able to think for myself and if I think i'm safe, i'll shout it. Behave yourself and get down off your high horse. Whats the world coming to?

lithos on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to Rob Naylor:
> (In reply to colina)
> [...]
>
> There was one time when we had 7 Robs in our club, all active climbers who went on most meets. This did not work :-)

I'm Rob and So's my wife (i have [or should that be of] the t-shirt to prove it)
tlm - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

I sometimes start the climb without even tying into a rope or even having a belayer around!!! Crazy, huh?
mr mills - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:

I really dislike traffic wardens as well as crag wardens !!!
ads.ukclimbing.com
birdie num num - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward:
I kind of regard it as good practice to get tied into anchors before I call safe, regardless of the nature of the climb.
When I am out walking I sometimes peer over a cliff edge without being anchored, whatever the hell that's got to do with anything.
Phill Mitch - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward: I wonder if you would give me a ticking off on one of my solo trips to Stanage?
A big worry for me is the climber who shouts ok when topping out, having not told his belayer he wants lowering off! I have seen this happen at Cheedale. Nobody was killed but could have been.
jamie ward - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Phill Mitch: Soloing! Oh you naughty boy, wait till I see you.
Phill Mitch - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to jamie ward: The thing is I may be leading a climb one week that I soloed the week before, how can you tell someone they are not safe when you don't know the context of what they are doing. I am sure you have got climbers best interests at heart and you are right in what you are saying but......
I have a pet hate for people that don't wipe their feet before climbing and can't help telling them they are wearing the crag out!
Dave Garnett - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Phill Mitch:
> A big worry for me is the climber who shouts ok when topping out, having not told his belayer he wants lowering off! I have seen this happen at Cheedale. Nobody was killed but could have been.

A friend of mine was killed in exactly this way.
Dave Garnett - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> (In reply to jamie ward)
>
> An old guy I climb with is extreme in this situation. On a sports climb, even after you've been lowered back down and are standing next to him on the ground, he won't take you off belay until you've said safe.

I don't go that far but I don't necessarily take someone off belay just because they've called 'safe'. I give them a couple of armfuls of slack and then take them off when I think they're safe.
Morgan P - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Jackwd:
> (In reply to jamie ward)
>
> [...]
>
> I wouldn't feel very positive about it, and tell you to mind your own business. There's enough people like you telling people what to do, and how to think already, that they should be doing this or that, nose off. Who do you think you are telling me how I should be doing something, I'm able to think for myself and if I think i'm safe, i'll shout it. Behave yourself and get down off your high horse. Whats the world coming to?

I think the worst thing you can do is discourage people from giving advice to others about their climbing style. 9 times out of 10 the advice given is probably very valuable and could save a life ('you need to weight that sling or it might snap when you load it', 'I think you've forgotten to clovehitch that back to your harness', 'that nut looks dodgy, you might want to place another')

If you don't want advice they say thanks but I'm experienced and know the risks and are fine doing it this way, rather than discouraging people from giving advice to others.

GrahamD - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Morgan P:

> If you don't want advice ..

Climb somewhere quiter ! unsolicited advice givers are generally concentrated in very few places
Michael Gordon - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Morgan P:
> (In reply to Jackwd)
> [...]
>
> 'I think you've forgotten to clovehitch that back to your harness'
>

Ah but that would be a useful observation rather than simply lecturing folk how they should/shouldn't do stuff.

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