For everyday climbing, put it all in the same pack!
“I was born in a climbing gym!” From the very beginning, climbing has been a part of Julia Chanourdie’s life. Early on, she started competing and then winning, so she decided to dedicate her life to the sport by becoming a professional climber. Julia climbs at both the gym and the crag. Switching back and forth between pulling on plastic and climbing on real rock allows her to have fun while working on ever more difficult routes to send. In both cases, whether indoors or outside, conducting a partner check is absolutely essential. Today, Julia takes the time to explain how she proceeds.
October 31 2019
To avoid forgetting something that could potentially cause an accident, you should always conduct a partner check before starting up a route or a pitch. Both the climber and belayer need to check each other’s setup, verifying the following four key areas:
- the belay system,
- the tie-in knot,
- both harnesses,
- the presence of a stopper knot at the end of the rope.
“I always conduct a partner check before climbing a route. I look to see if I put my harness on correctly and if my knot is properly tied. I also ask my climbing partner to check both. Then it’s my turn to check their belay system. Sometimes I’ll stop the person I’m belaying from starting up a route because we have not yet conducted a partner check.”
Julia also insists on tying and double checking the stopper knot at the end of the rope. Just like her, you can tie a stopper knot to one of the rope-end loops in your rope bag. Forgetting to tie a stopper knot at the end of the rope or skipping the partner check still leads to too many accidents.
“Sometimes people don’t finish their tie-in knot properly. It happens more than you might think; people get distracted. There are people who don’t pay enough attention to detail when checking their partner. Not only should you conduct the partner check before every route, but you really need to focus on doing it right. It’s important because you and your partner’s lives depend on it. You really need to pay attention”
Julia often meets friends at the climbing gym at night. They usually go back and forth between bouldering and climbing routes. Ability and experience matter little; they can just climb and have fun together. More often than not, Julia uses the GRIGRI+, an assisted-braking belay device that serves as a great learning tool thanks to its top rope mode and anti-panic handle. While practical, the GRIGRI+ still needs to be checked to make sure that the rope is threaded properly.
“Once we’ve done the partner check, I’m reassured, can focus on the climbing with confidence, and attempt a hard send.”