I was leading the route. On reaching and clipping the belay chain I simply clipped my lead rope into an in situ caribiner as my partner was intending to lead the route after me. I then called to my partner to let him know I had done so, however instead of shouting 'take' or 'clipped' as I normally would in this situation, I accidentally shouted 'safe'. Furthermore, the rope my partner was holding was at this point unweighted as I was pulling down on his end of the rope on the opposite side of the chains from myself. My partner immediately took me off belay. At this point we were both simply holding the lead rope in our hands. I started to lower myself, luckily still holding on to the rope that was running up from my belayer. He then realised, something was up and shouted up to let me know I was off belay. I quickly held on tighter to the rope and he quickly got me back on belay. I'd just avoided a 25m fall!
Clearly my call of 'safe' was stupid... But I was not even vaguely worried about being in danger or being misunderstood as: I have been doing a lot of sport climbing recently, all my regular partners understand that there is no need to take someone of belay on a single pitch climb until they are back on the ground, we both use auto lock belay devices. However, I realised after the event that the last time myself and this partner had climbed together was on multi pitch sport and he hadn't climbed any sport routes since. Hence, it would have been natural for him to take me off belay as soon as I called down 'safe'.
I feel lessons to learn are three fold:
- Don't shout 'safe' if you don't mean it
- Never take anyone off belay until they are back on the ground in a single pitch sport climbing situation
- Take time to talk through how things will work with partners with whom you haven't climbed regularly and recently
Despite both being very experienced climbers with over 20 years regular climbing each we rushed into things and I nearly died as a result.
Sport rock climbing
At the belay chains
Rescue Services Involved?
For more advice and guidance on good practices visit BMC skills
All reports are self-submitted and have not been edited by the BMC in any way, so please keep an open mind regarding the lessons and causes of each incident or near-miss.