Helping a partner during a ski descent - Petzl United Kingdom

Helping a partner during a ski descent

The second skier carries rope and equipment to create an anchor and belay, to be able to help the first skier in case of difficulty.


  • Carefully read the Instructions for Use used in this technical advice before consulting the advice itself. You must have already read and understood the information in the Instructions for Use to be able to understand this supplementary information.
  • Mastering these techniques requires specific training. Work with a professional to confirm your ability to perform these techniques safely and independently before attempting them unsupervised.
  • We provide examples of techniques related to your activity. There may be others that we do not describe here.

Belaying off a snow anchor

If no natural anchor is available (rock horn, tree...), create a deadman with your ice axe. After tethering yourself, you can throw the rope with an attached carabiner so that the first skier can easily attach him/herself.

Do not belay directly off an anchor of questionable strength.

The belayer is tethered to the anchor, keeping the tether taut to reduce the chance of shock loading (consider the CONNECT ADJUST for this usage). The belayer takes a braced stance, possibly on a platform dug in the snow, and belays off the harness. Belaying is done with a Munter hitch as it offers adequate friction in any position. Warning: do not belay off the harness using a REVERSO, without a redirect: the rope and hand positions do not allow for adequate braking.

Belaying off a natural anchor

If a solid natural anchor is available, the operation may go faster. The anchor can be used to redirect the rope, making for a more comfortable belay position and enabling use of the REVERSO.

Movement of the second

On a fixed natural anchor, the second can set up a rappel to descend the difficult section. Otherwise, s/he should downclimb.