USA Belay


Informally and organically formed in 2019, USA Belay is a national coalition of highly skilled competition lead and top rope belayers. Members serve the Elite, Youth, Paraclimbing, and Collegiate competition climbing series’ primarily for USA Climbing, the national governing body for competition climbing in the United States. Core members of USA Belay are known to be among the world’s best belayers. Approximately 50 percent of USA Belay members identify as women and 50 percent as men.

USA Belay deploys officials-level supervisors (Head Belayers and Assistant Head Belayers) as well as many of the top-tier line belayers to U.S.-hosted Elite, Championship, and International climbing competitions for USA Climbing and the International Federation of Sport Climbing.

In late 2019, USA Belay members partnered with USA Climbing to publish a comprehensive Competition Belaying Handbook and official companion video. The Handbook was updated in 2023 and has been used by climbing federations around the world. USA Belay continues to create supportive collateral and develop procedures for USA Climbing including content for the USA Climbing website.

From 2021-2023 USA Belay produced demonstration videos for USA Climbing. Beginning in 2024 USA Belay began independently publishing collateral to Instagram and Youtube.

Since 2021, the overarching philosophical principals, or “pillars,” of USA Belay are:

Safety • Consistency • Professionalism

USA Belay belayers use the Modern US Belay Style which was developed in the US northeast and mid-Atlantic regions in the mid-2010s. Charlie Lamb is credited with standardizing a particular methodical physics-based approach; becoming the US Belay Style. ty hardaway is credited with the evolution of this technique adding field of play procedures and a belay organization structure: the Modern US Belay Style.

Modern US Belay Style is characterized by the use of manual belay devices (as mandated by IFSC), dynamic rope control, and active footwork in order to minimize extraneous hand, rope, visual, or focus adjustments. Modern US Belay emphasizes mental and physical training in addition to direct belay practice. In 2024 ty hardaway coined, “reps make reps” as in, repetitions make reputations.

Among many techniques and terms, Dynamic Rope Control, first appeared in 2019. The Soft Drape was initially deployed in 2020. Processional Safety Belayer first appeared in 2022. Rope Services appeared in 2024.

USA Belay has no formal leadership or organizational structure outside of the systems used by USA Climbing. USA Belay has an informal membership of somewhere between 12-20 top-tier belayers. There are well over 100 belayers associated with USA belay worldwide. USA Belay members work in partnership with USA Climbing Event Coordinators.

USA Belay counts on its membership to offer support and detailed critique to belayers who ask. It is important to members that ideas are shared freely for deliberation. It is equally important for the organizational structure to be democratic, agile, and fast-acting. The model for professionalism is as top-down as it is bottom-up.

ty hardaway served as the USA Climbing National Belay Coordinator from roughly 2018-2024. Toby Monroe is slated to serve as National Belay Coordinator beginning in the 2025 season.

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