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Belaying With TBUS

June 25, 2012

Belaying is the foundational skill to be able to climb in any setting.  While there are many belay techniques, the American Mountain Guides Association recommends TBUS, and that is what will be shown and discussed in this article.

TBUS is an acronym used to describe a particular belay technique.  The acronym stands for Take, Brake, Under, Slide.  While this is the industry wide standard for belaying, the most important thing to remember while belaying is that the brake strand should be in brake position as much as possible.  With proper utilization of this technique, the rope will remain in brake position approximately 80% of the time.  The correct use of the belay device, and safety protocols are essential and should be utilized during every climb.  This means that the belay device carabineer is locked; the climber’s knot is checked, harnesses on both climbers are put on properly and doubled back, and both the climber and belayer are ready to climb.

The process described will be for a top rope setting.


If your right handed, this action is performed simply by pulling down on the rope above the belay device with the left hand, and simultaneously pulling the slack created through the belay device with the right hand. (For the left handed climber, the right hand pulls down, and the left hand pulls slack)

For easiness, the hand pulling down will be referred to as the guide hand and the hand pulling slack through the belay device will be referred to as the brake hand.


Maintain control of the climbers end of the rope with the guide hand, and bring the brake hand down by the hip or thigh below the belay device.  This is called brake position.




Let go of the climbers rope with the guide hand, and bring it below the brake hand.  It is essential that you never let go of the brake strand of the rope throughout this entire process, I.E. the brake hand should remain on the brake strand the ENTIRE TIME.



With the guide hand underneath the brake hand, slide the brake hand up toward the belay device.  Don’t slide it right up to the device.  Make sure you leave a couple inches between the belay device and the brake hand.

And there you have it.  Repeat this process over and over until the climber has reached the top of the climb.  When the climber is ready to be lowered, place both hands on the brake strand of the rope and gently loosen your grip.  Again, always maintain control of the brake strand, and don’t lower the climber to fast.

Happy Sending!


From → Basics

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