Techniques to Manage Lowers and Top Belays
With ice climbing season already in full swing here in the San Juans, and the opening of the Ouray Ice Park just around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to cover a few essential techniques for managing lowers and top belays. As guides who work in the Ice Park everyday, we often happen upon a wide range of climbing parties using a variety of different techniques to lower their climbing partner into the Ice Park, and then Belay them up the climb.
In the video below, SJMG Guide and AMGA Certified Rock & Alpine Guide Dawn Glanc covers the steps involved in utilizing the ATC Guide device to make your lower/belay scenario easier, more organized, and efficient. While not the only way to accomplish this task, the techniques shown in the video are particularly useful in areas like the Upper Bridge or Between the Bridges, and on climbs like Pic of the Vic – where it’s not feasible to top rope the climb from the bottom of the canyon.
In Part 1 of this series, Dawn covers the lowering/belaying scenario, and in Part 2 of the series (coming soon) Dawn will introduce a method by which you can convert your top belay into a short hauling system to help a climber reach their ice tools if they were to fall and be unable to reach their tools due to rope stretch.