21. How to Escape the Belay—Off your harness

In this video we look at how to escape a belay rigged directly on your harness. This is an advanced rockcraft skill that should be honed by anyone venturing into multi pitch terrain—but is also useful for cragging. You might use this skill to get the belayer out of the rope system in order to conduct emergency response.

Step 1: Using the brake strand, push a bight of rope through the belay carabiner, and tie it off as shown in the video. You can now go “hands free” and use both hands to rig the rest of the rope rescue system.

Step 2: Take the back end of the climber’s strand, behind where you tied it off on your belay device, and tie a munter mule on the master point of the anchor you are hanging from as belayer.

Step 3: Take out your cordelette (16-20 feet long is usually sufficient), and with the whole cord tied in a big loop (as you would have it to build anchors), wrap a klemheist around the loaded climber’s strand of rope.

Step 4: Run the two strands of your cordelette back up to your anchor, and on a separate carabiner, tie another munter mule using both strands of cordelette as if they are one single rope.

Step 5: Untie the backup knot on your belay device and gently ease the weight of the climber on to the friction hitch.

Step 6: Take your belay device off the rope. You will now notice you have a lot of slack in the rope and all the weight of the climber is resting on a single friction hitch. Remove the mule knot from the rope in the master point and take up all of that slack. Retie the mule knot.

Step 7: Now you can untie the cordelette, starting with the munter mule at the master point, and remove it from the rope entirely. The climber’s weight should be resting entirely on a munter mule in their rope, on the master point.

Now you’re free from the belay system and able to assess possible rescue scenario.

We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!


Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.