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Top tips for safer roped climbing

We all get distracted, we forget to do up a zip or wonder why we walked into the kitchen. It’s a very human thing to do, but when you are route climbing the consequences of making a mistake are significant. Your safety is our priority, so we wanted to give you some top tips for staying safe when accessing our roped climbing area.

lead and top-roping


Most climbers will at some point have touched the starting holds of a route only to be nudged by their belayer “Are you going to tie in?”. When you climb with a partner you are in the lucky position of having another pair of eyes, so make use of them! You may start tying your knot while having a conversation and as a result, forget to finish it. A quick glance may not easily reveal this error, so make sure you and your climbing partner perform a thorough buddy check. Here’s a reminder:

• Is the harness waistbelt above the hips and fit snugly?
• Have you checked that the leg loops and belay loop are not twisted?

• Is your partner tied-in to the right place on the harness?
• Have they used the correct knot?
• Is the knot finished appropriately?

• Is the rope installed in the proper direction in the belay device?
• Is the carabiner connected to the correct place on the harness?
• Is the carabiner is locked?

Going it alone


Even for the experienced climber, in fact, especially for the experienced climber, auto belays can feel weird. Can I really trust that this will catch me? Is it supposed to feel this loose? Yes, it will catch you and yes, it is designed to feel loose so that it does not affect your climbing – but it WILL catch you. The best way to learn to trust the system is to test it on your first go:

1/ Clip into the auto belay
2/ Check the gate is locked (it will snap shut)
3/ Climb
4/ Let go at the 1st clip, i.e. don’t climb to the top.
5/ Descend – without having gone too high, this will give you a gentle introduction to the system.

From there on in, your most important job is to verify that you are clipped in BEFORE you climb. Auto belays are an amazing addition to the world of climbing. Very quickly they will become second nature, allowing you to get in lots of mileage without the need for a belayer.


A safe community


Whether you are lead-climbing, top-roping or using the auto belays, keep your eyes on other climbers and help them when you can. We pride ourselves in having a strong community at TCA. Part of that comes from the camaraderie of climbing together, but this sense of community comes into its own when we look out for one another. If you see someone climbing inappropriately, give them a gentle nudge or speak to a member of staff.

I recall an intervention from a floor-walker in my early days of climbing. My face flushed with embarrassment and I felt very singled out, but I always hear that voice in my head to this day and it has helped me to stay safe over many years. If we ask you to adjust the way you are climbing, please know that it’s because we want you to be safe.



We run AUTO BELAY INDUCTIONS every Tue, Wed and Thu evening at The Prop Store (bookable in person or by phoning 0141 429 6331). Starting on 28 August we are also running new ROPED BEGINNERS COURSES for adults wanting to get into top-roping. This will cover everything you need to know from ‘figure-of-eight’ knots to tying in and belaying to safe descending. You’ll leave with confidence to start the next step in your climbing adventures.