Panicked-- when I first arrived in Korea (and by god, when I left) the climbing scene often enough looked like an accident waiting to happen. I've seen maybe slightly more than usual share of accidents here (probably proportionately less than Thailand), but when you look at the climbing density and see how prevalent climbing is here. . . we'll, it's like driving. . . too many people taking it up too quickly. Korea does make progress, though, as people are exposed to new ideas.
When I first saw the "walk-up" method of belaying (often with a gri-gri, cigarette and phone). . . I'm with you. But I realized I
wasn't going to change this (as the only foreigner at the time) so I watched all my potential belayers and chose accordingly. I also bought a gri-gri
which I love. Sometimes it's hard to "turn down" a belay from a friendly, willing belayer. . . you don't want to seem rude. . . but if you're not comfortable with how someone belays, you're not going to push yourself anyway.
I am a "lightweight belayer" who gets pulled off her feet even when someone smaller falls. . . I keep my daisy girth-hitched to my belay-loop and always look for a place to tie in (some walls and crags put in bolts for this, even, but a piece of gear or natural anchor works too. Sometimes in Korea, with the loose rock, etc, I don't want to be too close to the crag, and at a noisy crag I would rather be able to visually check what my partner is doing. I often spot the climber to the first or 2nd bolt, than move backwards as the friction from the bolts will give me more leverage (I still like to tie in once I'm further back, and the daisy/gri-gri make this possible without compromising safety).
As Dan's article shows, there is more than one way to accomplish something, and often the "old standard" isn't the best (I tend to do the "hands down" but I mix it up after years of "hands up" (these terms are new to me (hand over hand vs. slide) when I am not using my gri-gri. I tend to teach both.
One thing I will say: While I have seen a few severe lapses in judgment, overall, KOTRers are among the safest climbers. Very good at checking each other out, teaching basic safety practices, not pushing people to do things they are not ready for, and warning each other at the crags and on KOTR.
Jake-- say it isn't so
?! You were in my super-trustworthy safe and conscientious belayer/partner category?! I figured you were good, if not for topping out with
at least for getting us to awaiting food and drink at the end of the day
!! I think I'll have to reaccess your color-coded belayer status before I go back. At least until you invest in an auto-lock biner! Scandalous!