Hands Down: A Better Belay

It’s always interesting to see the different techniques that people use to belay; generally the differences stem from when the person was taught or when that instructor was taught themselves.  Belay methods have evolved over the history of climbing as equipment improved and the knowledge of how to use that equipment has improved.  Unfortunately as all that improvement occurs, someone who has already learned how to belay doesn’t always update their methods.  Thankfully there are many different ways to belay, old or new, that are still safe (and contrary to rumors, there are many ways to pass a belay test at Edgeworks).


So what has changed?  From the beginning, belaying took leaps and bounds in safety when it moved from the Hip Belay (no equipment other than the rope wrapped around your hip!) to incorporating equipment like harnesses and carabiners and using a knot/hitch called the Munter Hitch to provide friction. Eventually instead of belaying using a friction hitch, belay devices such as stitch plates and then tuber devices (i.e. Black Diamond ATC) were introduced; this improved the effectiveness of the belay even further.  What didn’t change was that way you handled the rope was still very much the same as if you were still doing the Hip Belay.

This belay method that has been used for decades (if not well over 100 years) is often times called the Hands Up or the Slip Slap Slide method; basically it is the method where you hold both hands up in front of you in order to belay.  It was the only way to do a Hip Belay, and it worked well as the belay equipment evolved.  It is a safe belay method (when managed properly) and it is still used today (though very much fading from use).

Sometime in the early 2000’s a new belay method came into vogue called the Hands Down or the PBUS.  This method caught up to and made better use of today’s belay devices by using a hands down method that keeps the your hands below the belay device.  This method is now the standard for climbing gyms, climbing schools and guide companies to teach.  Anyone receiving professional instruction will most certainly be taught this method.

So what is PBUS and what’s different?  PBUS stands for “Pull, Brake, Under, Slide” and the major difference is that the brake hand is UNDER the belay device in its resting position thus the device is always locked and ready to catch a fall, unless you are pulling rope.  With the old Hands Up method, the belay device was always in the open/pulley position, and the only way to catch a fall was to engage your brake hand downward.

How can you tell the difference?:
Hands Down (Pull, Brake, Under, Slide): (1) Your brake hand thumb is closest to the belay device when gripping the rope; (2) Your hand naturally rests below the belay device; (3) The Belay device is naturally in the locked position to catch a fall.
Hands Up (Slip, Slap, Slide): (1) Your brake hand pinky is closest to the belay device when gripping the rope; (2) Your hand naturally rests above the belay device, leaving both hands and both ropes parallel to each other; (3) The Belay device is naturally in the unlocked/pulley position, unable to catch a fall.

 Hands Down (PBUS)  Hands Up (SSS)

The Hands Down (PBUS) method was a dramatic shift in effectiveness of the belay by allowing new and non-attentive belayers to catch falls without making an action to brake (they already are!).  A side benefit was that it also increased the strength of the belay hand by putting stronger fingers (pointer and middle fingers) in the position of strength/grip rather than the pinky and the ring fingers.

If you haven’t seen the Hands Down (PBUS) method have one of the Edgeworks Staff demonstrate it, or take a look around at other belayers, you are sure to see the majority of them belaying Hands Down a better method.

Bike Month at Edgeworks

Hey, all you cycling climbers!  Did you know that May is Bike Month?  All month there are tons of different bike related events going on around the city to encourage and educate cyclists in our fine city.  Here at Edgeworks, we love seeing our bike rack full, and many of our employees enjoy hopping on two wheels to get around as well.  Bike Month is all about increasing awareness of bicyclists on our roads, teaching cyclists how to ride safely, educating motorists on how to drive alongside those of us on bikes, and just getting excited about biking!  We wanted to participate in some way, so for Bike month we’ve got a special going on for all you who choose to ride to Edgeworks!  On every Monday during the month of May, if you ride your bike to Edgeworks, you get a discounted day pass– $10!

If you want more information on bicycling as a commuter, check out this guide.  If you’re not sure how to ride your bike to Edgeworks, Google Maps allows you to get directions for bikes, avoiding busy main roads like 6th ave.

So hop on your bike and come on down to Edgeworks this month!

Crushing Tip #10

Feeling like your next project is eternally halting your growth? We all hit plateaus. Thankfully, Joey Burns has a suggestion.

While he’s traversing the walls, we have a short conversation about his climbing. Joey credits his (freakish) abilities to, what else? Traversing. “If you’re a new climber, the best thing you can do is traverse,” Joey explains. “Traversing helps me get past all my plateaus, from V1 to V2, from V4 to V5.” Aside from providing an endless series of climbing problems, traversing is extremely helpful in the endurance department. “It’s what helped me – especially when I was a new climber.” Looking to further improve your climbing? Check out our Private Lessons or ProRock Coaching programs.

Looking to further improve your climbing? Check out our Private Lessons or ProRock Coaching programs

2012 T-Town Pulldown Results

Did you guys  have a blast at the 2012 T-Town Pulldown, because we sure did!  We had a great turnout and tons of awesome climbers competing.  Check out the results below and have a look at some of the photos from the comp!  If you have any photos of the comp on Facebook, make sure to tag Edgeworks Climbing so we can see ’em!

Female Results
Male Results
Speed Comp Results 

A huge thanks to our sponsors of this year’s T-Town Pulldown!





Waypoint Outdoor             Leading Edge Northwest             Summit Sales

Comp: 2012 T-Town Pulldown

Get ready for the 8th Annual T-Town Pulldown!  This USAC sanctioned competition happens once a year; 100’s of climbers from around the region flock to compete.  Some of the best routes of the year are put up for this competition, the energy is phenomenal and the raffles prizes from climbing brands like Black Diamond, Petzl, and Evolv are awesome!

8th Annual T-Town Pulldown
April 28th, 2012

Format: Redpoint – Sport
Categories: Male/Female – Youth/Adult/Masters

Entry Fee: $35 (pre-registration deadline April 18th)

Session A:
All Female Categories
Check-In: 9:00am
Rules: 10:15am
Competition: 10:30am – 1:30pm
Session B:
All Male Categories
Check-In: 1:00pm
Rules: 2:15pm
Competition: 2:30pm – 5:30pm

Speed Comp:

Rock, Climb, Serve from Metro Parks Tacoma

On Friday, April 20th, 2012 Metro Parks Tacoma’s Outdoor Adventures is going to be taking over our gym from 4:00pm until 10:00pm. We will be closedFor more info about Outdoor Adventures (MPT) visit:

http://www.facebook.com/MPTOutdoors or http://www.metroparkstacoma.org/page.php?id=96


Women’s Night

Ladies!  Come in on the 1st Friday of each month and get a $9 day pass!  Bring your friends, or meet other women who love to climb.

5-10pm, 1st Friday of each month

Crushing Tip #9

For new and experienced climbers alike, a quick reminder to focus on precise footwork is always worthwhile tip. “Focus on watching your foot all the way to the hold,” explains Jon Manz. “A lot of people see a hold and before they’ve placed their feet, they’re already looking at the next move.” Is that you?

Watch your foot on each and every hold! That means more than seeing it. Follow your foot to the best position on the hold and watch until you’re applying pressure. That, ladies and gents, is precise footwork. Go to it!

Looking to further improve your climbing? Check out our Private Lessons or ProRock Coaching programs