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Calls for climbers and belayers

climbing-200x148.jpgWhen climbing or rappelling, it’s very important for the person on the rock to communicate well with his belayer. To do this, they use “calls.”

Here are some of the generally accepted signals for belaying climbers and rappellers.

For more on climbing, see “About Time” in the March 2008 issue of Boys’ Life magazine.

Signals for Belaying Climbers

  • “On Belay?” — Is the belay ready?
  • “Belay on.” — Your belay is ready.
  • “Climbing.” — Here I come.
  • “Climb” or “Climb on.” — Come ahead.
  • “Slack.” — I need some slack in the rope.
  • “Up rope.” — Take in the loose rope.
  • “Falling!” — I’m falling! Brake the rope!
  • “Tension.” — Hold the rope tightly in case I fall.
  • “Got you.” — There’s tension on the rope.
  • “Ready to lower.” — Lower me down the route.
  • “Lowering.” — I’m letting you down now.
  • “Rock!” — Look out for falling objects.
  • “Rope!” — Rope being thrown down.
  • “Off Belay.” — I’m in a safe place and no longer need a belay.
  • “Off Belay.” — I’m no longer belaying you.

Signals for Belaying Rappellers

  • “On belay?” — Is the belay ready?
  • “Belay on.” — I’m ready to belay.
  • “Rappelling.” — Your belay is ready.
  • “Rappel on.” — Go ahead.
  • “Falling!” — I’m falling! Brake the rope!
  • “Off belay.” — I am done rappelling and am in a safe place.
  • “Belay off.” — I’m no longer belaying you.
  • “Off rappel” or “Off rope.” — The rope is free of hardware and is ready for the next rappeller, and I am in a safe place out of the fall zone.

10 Comments on Calls for climbers and belayers

  1. I know nothing about these calls no matter how hard I try I cant remember them I love this article!!!!

  2. 2 things:
    When you hear rock, do NOT look up to see if anything is falling. Instead, stand as close to the rock as possible, In hope that the rock bounces against the face. Do NOT go far from the face- if it bounces, u may be hit.
    Also, some climbers will say “take” instead of tension and up rope.

    • well there are a few more calls than that but that’s pretty much it. Anybody heard of “hold”, “send it up”, “tie in”, or “pocket”? Probably not, but ya those are calls too.

  3. that is not all the calls there is also down and locked which means you check the carabiner. you also shout helmet and slap your helmet and yell gloves and show your gloves

  4. Hey Anonymous, when no one brakes the rope you either have serious injuries or die.

  5. what happens when nobody can brake the rope

  6. cope climber // July 28, 2008 at 8:08 pm // Reply


  7. ducky 10444 // June 2, 2008 at 10:06 pm // Reply

    wow this is useful info thanx boys life

  8. I thought the dialog was cool

  9. Survivor12 // March 8, 2008 at 11:32 am // Reply

    In scouts we are going on a climbing outing. I told my scout master about this site and now he will use the info when we go climbing! Thanks, Boys Life!

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