The Belay Test Requirements for Top Roping - Notes

Properly secure your harness (to manufacturer specifications)


  • Tighten buckles - There are several buckle systems. Older ones require you to double the strap back thru the buckle after pulling it tight. Newer ones just require pulling tight
    See Examples at Mammut (
  • No leg loop twists, harness is on straight  (every harness is different)
  • All buckles closed/locked correctly
  • Wear it just above your hips and the waist belt be tightened


Master Tying in With a Double Figure Eight


FigureEightKnot_Climbing_23_2[1] climb_harness_tie-l[1]

  • show you have the rewoven figure eight knot down, no excessive fumbling, multiple tries, or confused looks should appear (through the swami and the leg loop, NOT the belay loop)
  • tie a back-up knot Most gyms want a double-overhand here. Ask your gym what their preference is.


Properly load your belay device


Some gyms have permanent gri-gri's at every station and you just need to know how to belay on one of those. Other's require you to bring your own ATC, and demonstrate with that.

  • Feed the belay device correctly
    • For an ATC or Pyramid, the rope should only be fed through on one side only. 
      • Use the belay loop
      • Brake hand rope on the down side
  • Make sure your locking carabiner is locked and goes through the belay device and belay loop on your harness


 Check your partner(s) before starting to climb

Not all gyms test for this specifically, but it is THE MOST IMPORTANT habit to get into regardless of it being on the test

  • Ensure your partners harness is on correctly
  • Partner Climber: Make sure their knots are tied correctly (be able to identify a good/bad figure-8 knot and remember to look for a back-up)
  • Partner Belayer: Make sure the rope is fed correctly, and the carabiner is locked and through the correct areas


Be able to communicate as/with the climber and belayer
Some gyms may require/more or less vocabulary, but many gyms are not super strict on the exact wording, they mainly want to confirm you know how to communicate with the climber.

Starting Commands:

  • Climber to Belayer: “On belay?” (means: Am I on belay? Am I secured?)
  • Belayer to Climber: “On belay!” (means: I’m ready. You are already secured, and I’m ready to take your falls)
  • Climber to Belayer: “Climbing!” (means: I’m going to climb now.)
  • Belayer to Climber: “Climb on!” (means: You can go ahead and climb.)

Show you can belay

  • you will need to simulate a belaying situation, including taking in slack, giving out slack, and catching falls.
  • you will also need to show how to perform a controlled lowering (as if the climber reached the top of the climb or wants to come down)
  • NEVER let your brake hand off the rope while you're belaying
Commands on the Rock Face:
  • Climber to Belayer: “Slack!” (means: Loosen the rope a little bit. It’s too tight here.)
  • Belayer to Climber: “Slacking!” (means: I’m loosening the rope a bit.)
  • Climber to Belayer: “Tension!” or “Take!” (means: Pull the rope tight.)
  • Belayer to Climber: “Taking!” (means: I’m pulling the rope tight.)
  • Climber to Belayer: “Watch me!” (means: Pay attention! I’m going to do a move, and I may fall.)
  • Belayer to Climber: “Go ahead!” (means: I’m ready. Make the move.)
  • Climber to Belayer: “Falling!” (means: I’m going to fall. The belayer must pay close attention; most falls are so sudden that the climber may not have time to shout this command.)
  • Belayer to Climber: “Gotcha!” (means: Don’t worry! I’ve stopped your fall or I’m ready to take your fall.)
  • Climber to Belayer: “Ready to lower!” (means: I’ve reached the anchors or I can’t climb up anymore. You need to lower me down.)
  • Belayer to Climber: “Lowering!” (means: I’m going to lower you down now)
  • Climber to Belayer: “Rock!” (means: Look out below! A piece of rock or equipment is falling, and it might hit you!)
  • Climber or Belayer: “Rope!” (means: I’m pulling down a rope! Stay clear!)

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1 Response to "The Belay Test Requirements for Top Roping - Notes"

  1. Unknown says:
    July 26, 2016 at 6:31 PM

    Thanks this helps allot, I am taking my test tommorow. I have been having a hard time with how you set up this type of harness, but this clears it up allot.

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