Protection in mountaineering

The term “protection” in mountaineering has a number of different meanings. On one hand it can express a state in which a person is in some way protected from falling: protection can take the form of belaying, carried out by a belayer who handles the rope in a belay device according to the needs of the climber, as well as any other specific activities that are carried out at the belay station. Protection can also take the form of placing intermediate points of protection in the terrain; that is, anchoring protection devices, whether into rock, ice, or snow. In this chapter we will address all of these applications of protection. First we will address protection as a state, then we will focus on protection in the form of placement of points of protection, and finally we will discuss providing protection in the form of belaying; that is, how we handle the rope in a belay device and what influence this has on the other elements of protection. While this cursory introduction may give the impression that protection concerns a variety of issues, in reality the right idea is to perceive protection as an integrated whole, since these issues influence each other and are constantly in active interaction. When taken together the elements of equipment that prevent falls are called the chain of protection. As the name would suggest, an entire chain of protection is only as strong as its weakest link. It is therefore impossible to identify which part of the chain of protection is most important. In protection, everything is important.

Protection as a state (methods of protection)

What method of protection you select when using a rope will influence your level of safety when climbing, as well as the athletic value of the ascent you’ve accomplished. There are five basic methods of protection:

  • belaying the leader
  • top belay
  • side belay
  • fixed rope belay
  • running belay (belaying on a simultaneous climb)
Methods of protection

Methods of protection

This content is preview from e-book.

Title Part 3Mountaineering Methodology – Part 3 – Belaying and Rappelling

ISBN 978-80-87715-09-3

MMPublishing, 2013

Available for download from Apple iTunes (in the Books section).

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Another possibility is Google Play. This version is a simplified (as PDF).

Title Part 3 GPMountaineering Methodology – Part 3 – Belaying and Rappelling

ISBN 978-80-87715-14-7

MMPublishing, 2014

Available for download from Google Play.