Auto-Belays: What to know about our newest addition to the gym

VR now has automatic belay devices

Three to be exact and placed over various levels of routes to choose from

We are very happy to announce that Vertical Rock recently acquired three automatic belay devices! The three devices will be placed over various routes throughout the gym with varying levels of route difficulty to choose from.

Utilizing magnets and connected safely to a harness, the auto-belay slows the climbers’ descent at a reasonable pace. This is perfect to use during warm-ups and solo climbs. They also allow belay partners to save energy and maybe spend the time taking amazing pics of you on the wall.

Inside the device are two magnets attached to a rotor. Now when somebody descends the rotor is set spinning through the force of the slack, which in turn brings these two magnets close two a metal plate that curves around the perimeter of the rotor. The closer the magnets get to the plate the stronger the electromagnetic force grows which slows down the descent.

Of course, there also some downsides to the auto belay like having no takes, making even small mistakes perchance cost you your climb or the “leap of faith”. You must trust the device to safely deposit you back on the ground, which is quite the change from having your partner at your back. Which leads to the last downside – or upside for some-: You are all on your own, there is no assistance for good or bad.

To use the automatic belay devices at VR you simply must watch a short instructional video about how to use them and then you can get climbing!

Carefully pull out a short section of the lanard and carefully open the triple action, auto locking carabiner from the belay gate to the belay loop of your harness. Verify the carabiner is locked and attached correctly to your harness prior to climbing. Do not climb above or alongside the auto belay and always stay within the belay zone. Slow down if you are climbing faster than it can retract. Prior to descending, make sure there is no one in your path and you are under the device. Once you have safely landed, unlock the carabiner and reattach it to the belay gate. Always check that the carabiner is fully locked onto the belay gate before moving on.

Auto belays are perfect for endurance training and improving footwork. There are several different warm ups you can do such as up-downs, laps, and ladders. Downclimbing is also a great endurance building exercise. All without exhausting your belayer! You and your partner can have this opportunity to warm up together giving you more time to work on those projects. Mock leading is another way to utilize the auto belays. You can feel secure in building strength, endurance and technique until you are ready to lead with a belayer.


If you want to learn some more about automatic belay devices check out this link: