Could you be a better climber?

Posted by Alex Messenger on 12/04/2021

This is it. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for. The climbing walls are re-opening and it’s time to chalk, crimp and chug some great coffee. To help refresh those essential safety skills before your first session back, check out our new short films.

We headed to Awesome Walls, Sheffield with pro climber and BMC ambassador Steve McClure, GB Climbing Coach Rachel Carr and GB Climbing Team member Billy Ridal. Their mission? To run through the essential pre-flight safety checks – and any Coronavirus adaptations – to get you back up to speed.

BMC ambassador Steve McClure says:

"At last the walls are opening and we can see if three months of fingerboarding has worked. Indoor climbing will be as much fun as it always was, but after such a long break, take a little more time with the safety checks. No need to rush. Don’t ruin your new freedom with a simple mistake. And personally I’ll need a bit more rest than normal anyway!"

What are the essentials? Let’s take a look.

A few seconds spent on a Partner Check could save your life

It’s so easy to get distracted and forget to finish tying in, or forget to tie a knot in the end of the rope.  Our advice? Make a habit of doing a partner check every time you climb.

Start by checking your harnesses. They should sit above the hips, be properly tightened on all straps, and check the buckles are correctly fastened. After tying in, check your knot. It must be properly tied and threaded correctly through the harness.

Now, look at your belay system. Check the rope and device are threaded in the right direction and that the carabiner is connected to the belay loop. Check that it’s locked and perform a functional test of the device.

The last step is to make sure that you’ve properly tied a knot in the end of the rope. There are still very bad accidents caused by ropes that are too short.

WATCH: Be a Better Climber: Partner Check

Keep your brake hand low and pay attention

When belaying, make sure to keep your brake hand low, whatever belay device you use. And don’t let go. When belaying, pay attention and focus on the climber as their life is in your hands. Save your chatting to friends for when you aren’t belaying.

There are plenty of distractions when climbing indoors but when belaying your only responsibility is to the climber. Pay attention and focus on them as their life is in your hands. Save chatting to your friends for later.

With a wide variety of devices on the market, always read the manufacturer’s guidance and watch their user films online.

WATCH: Be a Better Climber: Belaying

Autobelays: double check you’ve clipped in

Auto belays are a great way to climb on your own. But without a partner to check you, it’s essential to take your time clipping in and do a functional test before leaving the ground. Very serious accidents have happened because climbers haven’t properly attached themselves to the autobelay. Get into the habit of double check that you’ve clipped in every time.

WATCH: Be a Better Climber: Autobelays

Think of other boulderers

Remember that the mats at climbing walls can’t remove the possibility of injury, so always try to climb down after completing a boulder problem and, if falling, try to land in control.
When moving around the wall, look where you are going including above you, and avoid walking underneath other climbers.

Remember to keep 2m distance at all times.Remember to wear your mask when not climbing, and sanitise your hands before and after climbing

WATCH: Be a Better Climber: Bouldering

These films were produced by the BMC in collaboration with our partners the Association of British Climbing Walls, Climb Scotland, Mountaineering Ireland and Mountain Training.

Thanks to Petzl for support, Awesome Walls Sheffield for the location, Steve McClure, Rachel Carr and Billy Ridal.

Want to help us spread the word? Email and we'll send you a link to our toolkit full of YouTube and Instagram assets that you can use. 

WATCH: the full film with all 4 shorts combined: 

Heading outside? Watch: First Climb, Think Twice:

We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.

From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.

Did you know that we've launched a U27 membership offer for just £1.50 / month? And with full membership from £2.50 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work:

« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 384 times


Click on the tags to explore more

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »