Climbing Communication (translated)

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 Under: Top Tips

There are some standard climbing calls that have been used since the Victorians were tucking their breaches into their woolly socks and embracing the perils of mountaineering. These are still heard today, but many of the calls commonly used by climbers need a little interpretation to explain what they really mean:

Slack – I (the leader), need more rope. Start paying attention; I shouldn’t have to say this!

Take – (Leader) I’m falling off, catch me!
            (2nd) I’m about to trip over the rope here; stop taking pictures/eating and belay!

Watch me here – I’m so scared and this bit looks hard, I just need to know that I’m not alone...

How does it look? – You’ve not done anything for ages and I’m getting bored/cold/hungry, what are you playing at?

These are the most useful mid-climb calls that climbers use, the key is to keep it simple and don't mix up key words. Saying "take in the slack" could be mis-heard on the breeze and more rope given out, leading to some potentially serious consequences. 

Overriding all of this is the need to perform Buddy Checks before the climber sets off, ensuring that the rope is correctly connected to both the climber and belay devise. After this, so long as the climber doesn’t ascend until the belayer is ready, the words you use to communicate that you’re Ready to Climb are of little consequence.  


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Matthew Woodfield An infrequent collection of tips, tricks and ramblings about climbing, walking and the great outdoors...