Universal Belay Program

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Have you ever noticed that lots of climbers don’t belay the same way as you do? Or that climbing instructors teach belaying one way, but then after class those same students belay differently? Where does all that variety come from? Is it safe? 

The AAC’s Universal Belay Program is designed to help every belayer find a common language and recognizable belay standard to ensure you get a safe catch.

Universal Belay Standard

Universal Belay Standard: Lead Belaying

Universal Belay Standard: Details Matter

Why did the AAC Develop A National Standard?

In the United States every club, climbing gym, school program, and climbing instructor teaches some form of belaying. They also test belaying to ensure that belayers meet a minimum standard. However, the standards to which they teach and test are not always consistent. With no national standard to discern fundamentally sound variations from dangerous variations, all variations tend to be tolerated—and that leads to accidents; some variations in belaying are unsafe. The AAC is working with institutions around the country to adopt a national standard and educate climbers on the fundamental principles that should govern all belaying in all contexts. Ultimately we hope that every American climber will have the knowledge and practice to belay in a fundamentally sound way


Visualize the different techniques used to belay and the pros and cons of each—view the belaying slideshow.

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