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It's likely that when you think of auto belays, that word is not the first that comes to mind. One argument gym owners use to discourage the use of auto belays is that it hinders the development of a close-knit climbing community. However, professional climber and gym owner Chris Sharma has a different perspective.

The use of auto belays allows for group climbing with friends or family, according to Sharma, who has dedicated a whole mezzanine in his new Sharma Climbing BCN-Gava facility to the use of auto belays.

"Having this entire zone of auto belays is a great tool for a climber, and it's obviously an incredible tool for a gym owner. It actually makes a lot of various things easier for our clients.


Speaking as a father, Sharma cites the opportunity to climb alongside his daughter as one of the advantages of using an auto belay.

Sharma stated with a broad grin spreading across his face, "I'll climb one route and she'll be right next to me on another route." I am actually able to stand right beside her. That truly creates new opportunities for new interactions, and it's pretty great. And I have to admit that our auto belay zone is one of our gym's busiest and friendliest spaces. It's very incredible. I'm just pleased to see how much life this mezzanine has brought to our gym.

Sharma mentioned the convenience of his auto belay area while hosting group events and birthday parties in addition to the opportunity to climb with his daughter. One of the most common justifications given by gym owners for installing auto belays in their climbing gyms is the low entry barrier for novice climbers.

I'd have to say that one of our gym's busiest and social sections is the auto belay zone. Christopher Sharma

But that only tells a portion of the tale.


It's not uncommon for gym owners, even those who support auto belay, to conceive of this value primarily in terms of individual climbers rather than pausing to contemplate the profound social impact they might have by opening their facilities to bigger group gatherings.

Many attendees may be getting their first proper introduction to climbing at this event. Beginners can concentrate entirely on their climbing, their companions, and having fun when given the opportunity to try out the activity without having to worry about safety or belay skills.