September 18, 2012
Love them or Leave them
Climbing and Outdoor Rec Program Coordinator
Before heading to the Climbing Wall Summit in Boulder Colorado this Spring, I received a call from Candie Fisher of Eldorado Wall Company, the company which installed the climbing wall I manage at Dalhousie University. Candie was interested in talking to me about Auto Belays, in particular, the TruBlue Auto Belay system Eldorado is now promoting.
In the event you haven’t heard about auto belays, the concept behind these devices is that the climber clips into a rope or a cable with a locking carabiner and as s/he climbs up the wall, the cable or rope is being ‘taken in,’ or retracted, by the device anchored at the top of the wall. If the climber falls, the device has a braking system that stalls or slows the rope as it lowers the climber to the ground. It doesn’t hold the climber in one spot, rather it generates the ‘right’ amount of friction on the rope to lower the climber at a safe speed toward the ground. Once on the ground, the climber can unclip and secure the cable or rope to an anchor for another person to use, or s/he can climb again. Essentially, the climber does not need a belayer – a person to hold the rope for him/her as they climb.