It’s time for our sport’s most dreaded pass/fail exam: the rock-gym be­lay test.

Climbing - - CONTENTS - BY KEVIN COR­RI­GAN

AT SENDHAUS™, we pride our­selves on safety. The first step is be­ing a solid be­layer. Here, we present a di­a­logue be­tween our trusted as­so­ciate, Wan­der, and a new cus­tomer, Ralph, so you can pre­pare for your own be­lay test should you visit one of our 32 na­tion­wide lo­ca­tions.

WAN­DER: Ex­cuse me, sir, where are you go­ing? RALPH: To climb?

WAN­DER: Oh, no— no, no, no. Sendhaus’s™ in­sur­ance pol­icy states that you’re not to stand within 15 feet of a rope un­less you’re be­lay cer­ti­fied. RALPH: How could I know that?

WAN­DER: See that card zip-tied to that man’s har­ness so he can’t re­move it, ever? That mean’s he’s be­lay cer­ti­fied. You’re not. If you climb, you’ll die. RALPH: Can I take a be­lay test?

WAN­DER: That’ll be $25, but first you have to watch our ori­en­ta­tion video. We play it con­ve­niently ev­ery two hours, on the even hour.

RALPH: It’s 2:11. Two hours later … RALPH: That video only covered your mem­ber­ship op­tions and classes. WAN­DER: Yes, it’s im­por­tant info.

Now let’s get started. How long you been climb­ing? What toprope grades do you sum­mit? RALPH: 30 years. 5.13d, trad.

WAN­DER: Then this should be easy. First, let’s talk about your gear. How old is your har­ness? RALPH: A year.

WAN­DER: Cause we only al­low har­nesses less than 10 years old.

RALPH: This har­ness was re­leased in 2017. Wan­der eyes Ralph’s har­ness sus­pi­ciously. WAN­DER: I’ll let it slide—this time. Let’s see your be­lay de­vice. Ralph shows his Grigri.

WAN­DER: Sorry, we only al­low tube-style de­vices.

RALPH: This is a to­tally solid op­tion. It’s as­sisted brak­ing.

WAN­DER: It doesn’t mat­ter. None of our staff knows how to use it. We have to be able to tell you when you’re do­ing some­thing wrong. It’s not about safety; it’s

about su­pe­ri­or­ity. RALPH: Well, I have an ATC-Pi­lot. WAN­DER: OK—I’ll let you use it … this time. Ralph clips a screw­gate through his be­lay loop, pushes a bight of rope through the de­vice, clips the biner through both, then screws the gate shut.

WAN­DER: How do we check our setup?

RALPH: I ver­ify that ev­ery­thing is clipped and ori­ented prop­erly, and squeeze the gate to con­firm it’s locked.

WAN­DER: And? RALPH: And have my part­ner dou­ble-check.

WAN­DER: And? And?! What are we miss­ing still? RALPH: I don’t know. WAN­DER: Wow, OK— re­ally? Here at Sendhaus™, we have our 27-point †bers‘nden Pre­flight Check­list, and you’ve only hit three points.

RALPH: But I’ve never been here be­fore; how am I sup­posed to know about your stupid–

WAN­DER: For starters, you need to check that you clipped into the same rope as your part­ner. You need to agree upon com­mands—ev­ery time. You need to in­spect the rope for core shots. And you need to check that your carabiner is a pear­shaped— not D-shaped—quadru­ple-ac­tion twist-lock be­lay biner with an anti-cross-load­ing gate. If you don’t own one, go see Rain at the GearhaŸs kiosk up front. Ralph re­turns af­ter spend­ing $50 on a new carabiner. RALPH: And now?

WAN­DER: I found this guy, Dave, also in need of a be­lay test. He’ll place his life in your, a com­plete stranger’s, hands while he climbs and I stand

un­com­fort­ably close hold­ing the rope. Dave ties a per­fectly dressed fig­ure-eight with a Yosemite fin­ish.

WAN­DER: Sir, that ex­tra twisty thing—we don’t al­low it.

DAVE: This is a safe tie-in. I’m an IFMGA guide.

WAN­DER: Wow … fancy let­ters. Sir, we re­quire a fig­ure eight with an over­hand backup.

RALPH: You know the backup does lit­er­ally noth­ing, right? Some groups have even sug­gested that it can be less safe be­cause it can make it eas­ier to miss a mis­take in the knot.

WAN­DER: We don’t care about safety, only in­sur­ance. Dave re-fin­ishes his knot.

WAN­DER: Now tell me how you in­spect his knot.

RALPH: It’s a per­fectly dressed fig­ure eight, not a sin­gle crossed strand, within a fist-length of the har­ness and with 6 inches of tail. It’s the best knot I’ve ever seen. I hate you so much. It’s a good knot.

WAN­DER: But how do you know it’s a good knot?

RALPH: ( Teeth clenched.) YOU TELL ME.

WAN­DER: You have to count the strands. Look—two, four, six, eight, ten. We call this our 10-Point Sendhaus™ Knštin­spek­tišn. Here, I’ll demon­strate it for two sec­onds then re­quiz you im­me­di­ately.

RALPH: I can’t fuck­ing take an­other second of this.

WAN­DER: Sorry you feel that way. I’ll go ahead and pass you for

the day, but I’d sug­gest you take our $200 Mega-Tšpršp­pen course be­fore com­ing back.

RALPH: I am never com­ing back here, ever. Do you even climb?

WAN­DER: Never! Way too dan­ger­ous. My mom would kill me.

“YOU FAIL! YOU FAIL AT BELAYING! YOU FAIL AT LIFE!”

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