Belay Specs were born out of a passion for climbing and dealing with the neck pain that comes with it. I started working on designs for Belay Specs when I was living in Lexington, KY, only an hour away from the Red River Gorge. Known world wide for its steep sandstone amphitheaters, climbs in the Red are pumpy and long. The long routes mean long belays which often get much longer when the climber is able to rest and recover on big jugs, kneebars or ledges. Giving an attentive belay can result in temporary and long term neck pain.
I saw belay glasses at the crags a few times and was amazed at how well they worked but I was put off by their cost. I had seen prismatic reading glasses in a movie and wondered if I could make them work for belaying if they were flipped upside down. My first attempt at making belay glasses involved a hacked apart frame and a thick aluminum L angle glued together to make a clumsy, Frankenstein-esque pair of glasses. While functional, the heavy, obtrusive frame made them feel like blinders and made it hard to see around the glasses for good rope management. These glasses only lasted a few weeks before breaking in an over-enthusiastic hug.
A new frame needed to be designed that was more durable, lighter weight and adjustable. While sitting at work, day dreaming about climbing, designing things in my head and measuring a drawing, I realized my stainless steel ruler would make for a great frame. Hours of cutting and many destroyed rulers later, a superior frame emerged that was lighter, more comfortable and allowed for great peripheral vision.
Using the belay glasses at crags in Kentucky and Utah resulted in lots of questions about what I was wearing and how they worked. People loved the comfort the glasses afforded them and asked where they could get a pair. After hearing this from many folks and finding meek job opportunities after moving to Utah, I decided to create a job for myself and share Belay Specs with the wider climbing community.