Backup belay is required for all COPE and climbing programs that utilize a belay system. Recently, the BSA has seen an increase in incidents and near misses that were the result of either no backup belayer present or an inattentive backup belayer. Backup belayers are a key part of our climbing safety. In the event the belayer becomes unable to fulfill their responsibility, a backup belayer can take over the belay responsibility by applying tension on the friction device, which can prevent a fall.
In rare, natural-area instances where there is not enough space for a backup belayer, using trained belayers to belay with an assisted braking device or hitch is allowed. (Artificial climbing surfaces or elements that do not allow for a backup belay should be redesigned or have their operating procedures modified to meet this requirement.) In addition, an auto belay device (properly certified and inspected) can also be used.
Please review the Guide to Safe Scouting, NCAP Standard PS-206 and the Belay On Manual to review this critical requirement and share this information with your camp directors and COPE & Climbing council committees.
Questions? Email Andrea.Watson@Scouting.org.