If you’re a climber who has spent hours on belay, neck bent back at 90 degrees, intently watching as your buddy inches towards the anchors or hangs yet again off that same draw, you know that it’s a bloody pain in the neck. Late last year I was introduced to the belay glasses and they have changed my belaying life.
How do they work?
You look through two triangular glass prisms mounted on a flat metal frame. The prisms bend light and redirect the image of your climber so you can watch them move up while you look straight ahead. Genius.
3 unexpected ways belay glasses will save your neck
1. Instead of looking down and around to stretch your neck while belaying, you will watch your climber more closely and give them a better belay, so they won’t land on your head and hurt your neck.
2. If you have a pair you can lend them to your belayer, who is now more likely to give you a great belay because they don’t continually need to look down to rest their sore necks while belaying. A great belay could save your neck.
3. Another upshot of lending them to a friend: they will probably belay closer to the cliff instead of walking away to see you more comfortably. This means they’re giving you a more precise belay when it counts, saving your neck.
A couple of things about belay glasses that you might not find on the product websites:
1. If you’re lighter than your climbing partner . . . these units are thoughtfully designed to allow you to look up at your climber and down at your belay device as well as through the glasses, but it’s not so easy to look straight ahead. This makes it hard to prepare yourself to brace against the cliff when providing a dynamic belay. In this case, weight matters. As far as I’m aware, CU belay glasses are among the smallest and lightest ones around. The advantage is twofold. One: the lenses are smaller so your peripheral vision is better. Two: They are light, so you can push them up high on the bridge of your nose to improve your forward vision. Mine are a bit too heavy for this, they tend to slide down my nose like grandma’s reading glasses. Maybe if I had a bigger nose . . .
2. It can take a little while to get used to seeing things from a new point of view and depth perception is tricky. Objects may appear closer than they are, so take some time getting used to your new eyes before going for your hardest belay tick.
3. People will make fun of you because you look weird . . . yep, you do. Your glasses protrude centimetres from your face, the lenses give new meaning to ‘thick’ and your eyeballs can be seen in places they shouldn’t. Quietly convert everyone and before long we’ll all be seeing things differently 🙂