inSPIRE Rock Lead Climbing/Belaying Standards

inSPIRE Rock Lead Climbing/Belaying Standards

All climbing is dangerous, lead climbing particularly so. The dangers involved with lead climbing can affect you and your partner, and those around you. Because our goal is to set and maintain the highest standards of safety for all gym guests and staff, we must require and enforce strict adherence to our lead climb/belay standards. These standards and practices are particular to inSPIRE Rock and may differ from other gyms or climbing outside. Remember, lead climbing (or any climbing) at inSPIRE Rock is a privilege, not a right; consistent or gross disregard for our standards will result in losing that privilege. Belaying is restricted to those 14 years of age or older.

Standards – Equipment:

  • Lead climbers/belayers must use a UIAA/CE-certified sit-type harness with a belay loop that is less than five (5) years old and does not show excessive wear.
  • All belayers must use UIAA/CE-approved Assisted Braking Belay Devices (ABD). The device must be in good working order and not show excessive wear.
  • Belay carabiners must be UIAA/CE approved HMS/Pear-shaped locking carabiners, free from excessive wear and in good working order.
  • Only UIAA-certified dynamic single ropes are allowed.
    • Ropes must be less than five (5) years old and have a known history
    • Regularly inspected according to manufacturer’s instructions
    • Ropes less than 95 ft. (29m) in length are not permitted.
  • inSPIRE Rock staff may disallow any rope, harness, belay device, carabiner, or other equipment at their sole discretion.
  • Climbers/belayers are not permitted to wear headphones, so good communication can happen throughout the climb.

Standards – Before the Climb

  • The climber or belayer should flake the rope to check for inconsistencies in diameter, frays, cuts, or soft spots.
  • The climber and belayer must ensure that their maximum weight difference does not exceed 40 lbs. The lead climber cannot outweigh their belayer by more than 40 lbs. If the climber is more than 40 lbs heavier than the belayer, we recommend using an Edelrid Ohm.
  • Take out your headphones before the climb starts.
  • A partner check must happen before the climber starts climbing:
    • Belayer will check the climber’s harness: the rope passes through the harness’ tie-in loops, and the knot is tied properly.
      • The Figure-Eight-Follow-Through knot is the only knot allows.
      • Yosemite finishes are permitted.
      • Bowline knots are not permitted due to the number of variations and difficulty of checking them.
    • The climber will check that the belay device is set up properly (see manufacturer’s instructions), attached to the belay loop, and the carabiner is locked.
    • Both should ensure they are connected to the appropriate rope for the desired climb and that the two ends are not twisted.

Lead Climbing:

  • Lead climbers must maintain a safe distance from other climbers. Lead falls can be long and unpredictable. Always assume a fall is likely and leave enough space to avoid hitting other climbers or belayers. Be aware of the entire path of the route you are trying and those of the other climbers near you.
  • The belayer must spot the climber until the climber has clipped the first quickdraw.
    • In the event of a fall, the belayer is not catching the climber but guiding the climber to the best spot on the ground, protecting the head, neck, and shoulders and preventing the climber from flipping backward.
    • Spotting inside the gym also creates good habits for outdoor climbing and helps ensure the belayers’ attention is focused on the climber.
  • The climber should clip a quickdraw when the quickdraw is between the shoulders and waist. Clipping when the quickdraw is high above the head or below the knees introduces a lot of slack and can cause dangerous falls.
  • The climber is not permitted to skip quickdraws.
  • The climber should follow the quickdraws designated for the route. Each quickdraw will have colored tape that matches the color of the rock holds. Reading the route and talking it over with the belayer is a good idea.
  • Climbers cannot create their routes spanning multiple routes on the wall.
  • The belayer will be attentive to the climber throughout the climb.
    • Belayer must make the climber aware if the climber is going to miss a clip
    • Belayer must notify the climber if any clips have been done inappropriately.
  • Great care should be taken when climbing low on the wall. Falls taken before the fourth clip can easily collide with the belayer and even ground falls. Always try new routes on top rope first, mainly when the route grade is near your limit.
  • Climbers must keep limbs clear of the lead rope at all times. No limb should ever be positioned between the rope and the wall nor in a position where a fall would likely cause it to be. Tangling in the rope is extremely dangerous, and every effort must be made to avoid it.

Standards – Lead Belaying:

  • Lead belayers must demonstrate proficiency in giving and taking slack and arresting falls with an Assisted Braking Device (ABD).
  • The belayer should not be far from the wall unless moving away to take up the slack. When in the belay position, the belayer should be able to lift a foot up and touch the wall.
  • The belayer must always have a hand on the brake end of the rope. When sliding the hand up or down the brake end, at least three (3) fingers must be around the rope. It is best to use the TBUS (Take-Brake-Under-Slide) method to take up the slack when possible.
  • Lead belayers are required to maintain minimal slack in the climber’s rope. At no time should the slack loop hang lower than the belayer’s knees.
    • For example, as the climber climbs between the 1st and 3rd quickdraw, there should be a small “J” of slack. There can be slightly more from the 4th to 5th quickdraw, and above the 5th clip, there can be more.
    • The belayer must be attentive to the hazards below the climber (i.e., Large volumes, an edge of a roof section) and adjust the amount of slack accordingly.
  • The belayer should be on the opposite side of the quickdraws from the climber. This reduces the chance of the belayer being hit by a falling climber.
  • Belayers must use an ABD according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • For example, the image to the right shows incorrect methods of paying out Slack with the Petzl Gri Gri. The thumb can be used to press the cam when paying out slack quickly is required; however, once the slack is paid out, the belayer must return the brake hand to the normal position (see image below)
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