Use the Shelf


Belay transitions are a great way to save time on longer climbs, the key is to have everything clean, organized, and simple from the start. I hate coming to an anchor and spending unnecessary time re-organizing ropes, dancing with my partner to get out of a tangle, and not having a clear spot to clip into. Take a few seconds to think about how the belay will look and how it should be organized before even putting in your first piece.

There are many great ways to organize and simplify an anchor and belay stance. One such way is to utilize the “shelf” of the anchor. This is the spot just above the knot of the master point you have created. Of course this needs to be a standard equalized cordelett that has loops of cord that you can clip through to isolate the carabiner. Using the shelf is a great way to separate one climber from the next, the belay device (in guide mode), and or multiple climbers clipping to the same anchor. I use this technique all the time while guiding. I clip myself into the shelf, leaving the master point open for the belay device and a clear space for followers to clip into.

Here is how it’s done:

Build a solid, redundant anchor using the standard equalized cordelett method.

Clip a locker to the master point knot and hang your belay device from it (in guide mode).

Clip another locker above the figure eight knot making sure the locker goes THROUGH the three strands of cord coming down from each piece of protection.

Tie into the locker you just clipped to the shelf (the clove hitch is my preferred method).

Yell off belay, pull up all the rope, and get your partner on belay with the pre-rigged belay device hanging from the master point.

(Depending on the belay you can tie in or belay from from the shelf and or the master point as needed.)

Congratulations, you have just set up a well thought out, simple, and organized belay. Your partner will be psyched to be climbing with such a knowledgeable person and you will save time by not having to fix a cluster!

Safety tips:

Make sure your master point knot is dressed and tightened very well.

Double check, that you have trapped your clip in carabineer THROUGH the strands of the cord, and not just clipped around them.

Anchors are not created the same way every time. Make sure your shelf has at least to strands of cord that can be clipped into for redundancy.

If you tie in with a clove hitch make sure it is dressed and cinched down very tight. Hold the non-load strand and actually sit and weight the load strand that you are tied into.

Practice this technique on the ground and make sure you understand the system before making a free attempt on The Nose. Better yet hire me to teach you hands on and we will employ this system while climbing some great routes!

Clove Hitch tie in using “the shelf”.


Climber #1 tied into shelf, climber #2 tied into master point for a clean and organized transition to the next pitch.IMG_4998

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