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Autobelay Death in Texas
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By Brian Scoggins
From Eugene, OR
Sep 25, 2013

M Sprague wrote:
Before I start climbing I always grab my rope and pull it away from my harness and check the knot, visually check my belayer's set up and look them in the eye to make sure they are focused on me. These auto- belay things cut a lot of that out, but the pulling the rope taut from your harness ritual would catch all of these screw-ups. How long does it take? One second.


That's exactly what I do, and its become so automatic that its part of what I do when I'm clipped to an anchor, tied in, belaying somebody, or using the autobelay. Habits like this save lives, and they're much more universal than any particular belay technique.


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By Syd
Sep 28, 2013

I've seen the bad clip-in happen in a gym. A beginner was climbing an easy overhanging route. His belayer was belaying correctly. The climber fell and parted from the biner, falling about 25 feet onto his back. He had no injuries. The gym had a gravel bed covering the floor. No one had any idea how he was attached to the biner or how he became disconnected.


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By Greg J
From Colorado
Oct 22, 2013

Will S wrote:
I LOVE the autobelays. And our gym finally bought a couple this year. BUT, and this is a big "but", they are being used largely as a "babysitter" for n00bs that don't know how to belay, and children. I've already kept 3 different folks from bungling the clip-in (which is really, really hard to bungle, and I don't work there - just train). Kids clipping to the wrong place on the harness, or taking off with the gate not closed/with the harness just pinched between gate and biner...stuff like that. Myself and a few others will warmup or do intervals on them, but babysitting n00bs is what I see most. It really winds me up, because they are neglecting what has been THE prime instructional activity for gyms to new climbers...teaching them to belay safely. Now they just take their money and, "oh you don't know how to belay? Here's the autobelay".


Checked out the climbing wall at a local gym here and discovered this to be the case. For the most part the autobelays are set on the easiest routes on the wall. The wall itself was nice for it's size and I enjoyed it but it was very clearly setup as a 'babysitting' technique like you say. And I had the exact experience as you, there was one other person and we would just rotate around doing quick intervals on them and then what followed were noobs who were at times perplexed at even the idea of locking carabiner in use...

Overall I like them though for the freedom they allow, nice for 'running-laps'


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