/ Indoor belay: how long before you trust someone?
I would generally have a beginner belaying me by the end of their second session
In the past I've taken beginners, belayed them on a couple of routes then showed them the belay ropes, climbed up a few feet, weighted the rope and talk them belaying me down.
If they're getting the hang of it and look competent then I'll keep on-going, if they look nervous, not getting it or generally unhappy then stop.
I'd climb easy and slow, keeping an eye on them for a couple of sessions before moving back on to harder stuff where I might ping off.
I've done this several times and haven't had a problem where as some of the worst belayers have been 'experienced' climbers who are busy looking elsewhere.
Ideally you'd have someone experienced holding the dead end ready to lock it off but you can't get that everytime.
It's easy to get distracted indoors. My son bought me some CU belay spectacles as a birthday present when were in Kalymnos and one of the benefits of their use, apart from easing neck strain, is that they focus the belayers attention on the climber. Even when someone walks up and starts talking you tend to not turn your head.
If I am taking a beginner climbing then I try to get a friend that already climbs to come along as well. That way I stay on the floor and tail the rope when they are learning to belay, once they have passed their belay test I will allow them to belay without myself or another climber tailing the rope.
If I have signed them in then I won't leave the floor to climb unless I have an experienced climber belaying me.
I always try to jump off on the very first belay with a beginner. Obviously make sure they are backed up by a competent friend first.
Then then know, from the first, that they can stop a fall.
If you cannot have a experienced friend or passerby holding the dead end ready to lock off then you really, really, shouldn't be getting the beginner to belay. It's not a "ideally" in my book, its a "necessity".
Usually when they know your life is in their hands, they pay a lot of attention, because they aren't used to that responsibility. I also try and familiarise new climbers with the theory a day or a few hours before we climb, so it's not all fresh information in their heads when first belaying.
If you aren't very confident in their skills, obviously have them supervised until you are.
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