How to Pass the Y17 Belay Test

Y17 is a conveniently located climbing gym near Taipei’s NTU Hospital popular with taipei climbers. However, it’s also notorious for a heinously difficult top-rope belay test.

Because the test is so different from most belay tests in other countries, we’ve written a guide for climbers who know how to belay, how to pass the Y17 version. This is NOT a belaying lesson, and if you do not know how to belay we suggest contacting Y17 or your local gym and asking if they can provide instruction for you.

This article is NOT a climbing lesson and is NOT meant to replace or give professional instruction or circumvent the test. It is meant for foreign climbers who already know how to belay and have passed belay tests in their home countries, and is simply meant to prepare these already competent climbers for the Y17 test.

Make sure you bring 2 passport-sized photos.

Figure 8 knot

First you will be required to tie a figure eight knot on your partner’s harness. Your figure eight needs to be extremely tight to the harness – the figure eight should be within 5cm of the tie in loops. The reasoning here is that an 8 closer to your harness(center of gravity) keeps you more stable  when you fall.

The figure eight needs to be tight and clean, with absolutely no cross over. A neat figure eight is easy to check for correctness. Cross overs also slightly decrease the strength of the knot. Y17 does not want a loose figure eight so at the end make sure you pull the rope on both sides of the eight to get it nice and tight. Here is an example of what they’re looking for.

The figure eight should have about 20cm of tail, enough to do a double fisherman’s knot as a finish.

Belaying method

Here the examiner will have you belay a climber. The climber will go past the red line in the gym(about 2m) and then fall announced. then the climber will go past the red line and fall unannounced. The examiner will check that you guys have the climbing commands down pat(either English or Chinese) and that you guys go through all the pre-climbing checks.
In addition, while climbing it is good practice for the belayer to echo or acknowledge the climber’s requests- such as Take, or Lower.

During this phase of the test the tester will be checking your belaying technique.

Y17 accepts what the Taiwanese call “European” and “American” methods of belaying. The “European” method is the BUS method of belaying which is currently promoted by the AMGA.  The “American” style of belaying is a modified pinch method with palms in instead of out( As the pinch method is no longer advocated by the AMGA, recommends new belayers to use the BUS method of belaying.) 

Whatever method you choose to practice, you will want to be extremely competent and fast at your chosen belaying method. During the Belay test, the climber will be asked to climb at a fast pace, and you will be required to keep the rope tight and free of slack at a pace that keeps up with the climber.

  • Brake hand cannot come in contact with the belay device and it should never come within 2cm of the tube style belay device opening.
  • Brake hand cannot ever leave the brake side of the rope, not while belaying, not while lowering.
  • When climber calls Take or tension, the belayer needs to take in all slack within 2 seconds.

Harness test

Y17 has a harness test which I’ve never seen anywhere else. The test is that they take your harness and tangle it into an exremely convoluted shape, and you are required to put the harness back into its original form and wear it correctly.

This is much harder than it sounds because they will take any and all efforts to make sure your harness is completely wrongly oriented.

To prepare for this portion of the test – get very familiar with your harness -what it looks like when it is correctly worn – the orientation of the leg loops, the direction of the gear loops, etc. Maybe even practice trying to convolute your own harness and putting it back in normal shape.



If you’ve made it past the test, congratulations! You’ve now passed the Y17 belay test, quite a feat. Pat yourself on the back and climb on– you are now certified to top-rope belay in any gym in Taiwan!


  1. 3 Responses to “How to Pass the Y17 Belay Test”

  2. Actually, they do offer the classes in English, or will have someone come in to help with the translation . Very useful article though, thanks. 

    By Chris on Jul 29, 2012

  3. Thanks Chris. I asked about english language lessons and they didn’t give me a straight answer but I think you’re right and I’ve updated the article with your suggestion.

    By Danger on Aug 8, 2012

  4. Thanks for the write-up Danger. Passed the test first try because I read this and knew what to expect. Good stuff!

    By Celestine on Jul 10, 2013


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