Lead Climbing and Belaying Certification

inSPIRE Rock Lead Climbing/Belaying Standards

All climbing is dangerous, lead climbing, particularly so. The dangers involved with lead climbing can affect not only you and your partner but also 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 therefore 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 the loss of that privilege. Belaying is restricted to those 14 years of age or older.

Standards – Equipment:

  • Lead climbers/belayers are required to use a UIAA/CE certified sit type harness with a belay loop that is less than 5 years old and does not show excessive wear.
  • All belayers must use a UIAA/CE approved Assisted Braking Belay Devices (ABD). The device must be in good working order and not show signs of excessive wear.
  • Belay carabiners must be UIAA/CE approved HMS/Pear-shaped locking carabiners, which are free from excessive wear and in good working order.
  • Only UIAA certified dynamic single ropes are allowed.
    • Ropes must be less than 5 years old and have a known history
    • Regularly inspected according to manufacturer’s instructions
    • Ropes less than 40 meters in length are not permitted.
  • inSPIRE Rock staff may disallow any rope, harness, belay device, carabiner or other piece of equipment at any time at their sole discretion.
  • Climbers/belayers are not permitted to wear headphones so that good communication can happen throughout the climb.

Standards – Before the Climb

  • Climber or belayer should flake the rope to check it for issues such as inconsistencies in diameter, frays, cuts, or soft spots.
  • Climber and belayer must make sure that the maximum weight difference between them does not exceed 40 lbs. Meaning that 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 the use of an Edelrid Ohm.
  • Take out 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 allow.
      • Yosemite finishes are permitted
      • Bowline knots are not permitted due to the number of variations and difficult nature of checking them.
    • 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 make sure 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 as well as 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 backwards.
    • Spotting inside the gym also creates good habits for outdoor climbing and helps ensure the belayers attention is focused on the climber.
  • 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.
  • 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. It is a good idea to read the route and talk it over with the belayer.
  • Climbers are not permitted to create their own routes spanning multiple routes on the wall.
  • Belayer will be attentive to the climber throughout the climb.
    • Belayer must make climber aware if climber is going to miss a clip
    • Belayer must notify 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 result in collisions with the belayer and even ground falls. Strongly consider trying new routes on top rope first when possible, particularly when the grade of the route 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 giving and taking slack as well as arresting falls with an Assisted Braking Device (ABD).
  • The belayer should not be far from the wall unless moving away from the wall to take up 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 3 fingers must be around the rope. When possible, it is best to use the TBUS (Take-Brake-Under-Slide) method to take up slack.
  • 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. From the 4th to 5th quickdraw, there can be slightly more, and above 5th clip, there can be more.
    • The belayer must be attentive to the hazards below the climber (ie. 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 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)
I acknowledge that I have read and understand the above information.  I voluntarily hold inSPIRE Rock Ltd. harmless.
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  • Please provide your email so we can send you a copy of the Lead Climbing and Belaying Standards and your test results.
  • I acknowledge that I have read and understood the above information. I voluntarily hold inSPIRE Rock Ltd. and inSPIRE Cypress LLC. harmless.
  • inSPIRE Rock Staff Use Only:

    Please check all that apply to the customer listed above.
  • The person listed on this document has demonstrated lead climbing consistent with the standards of inSPIRE Rock and has permission to lead climb in the gym.
  • The person listed on this document has demonstrated lead belaying consistent with the standards of inSPIRE Rock and has permission to lead belay in the gym.

inSPIRE Rock Lead Climbing/Belaying Standards

Please review the following inSPIRE Rock Lead Climbing and Belaying Standards.

All climbing is dangerous; lead climbing, particularly so. The dangers involved with lead climbing affect not only you and your partner but also those around you. Because our goal is to set and maintain the highest standards safety for all gym guests and staff, we must require and enforce strict adherence to our lead climb/belay standards. These standards and practices may differ from what you do at other gyms or outside; these standards are particular to inSPIRE Rock. 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 the loss of that privilege. Belaying is restricted to those 14 years of age or older.

Standards – Equipment:

  • Lead climber/belayers are required to use a UIAA/CE certified sit type harness with a belay loop that is less than 5 years old and does not show excessive wear.
  • UIAA/CE approved belay devices must be used. These devices must be in good working order and not show signs of excessive wear. Stitch plates, plate type plaquette devices (e.g. Kong Gi Gi, and figure 8 devices) are not permitted.
  • Belay carabiners must be UIAA/CE approved HMS/Pear-shaped locking carabiners, which are free from excessive wear and in good working order.
  • Lead ropes are provided by inSPIRE Rock, however you may elect to use your own rope. Only UIAA certified dynamic single ropes are allowed. Ropes must be less than 5 years old, regularly inspected and have a known history. Any rope less than 95 ft. (29m) in length is not permitted.
  • inSPIRE Rock staff may disallow any rope, harness, belay device, carabiner or other piece of equipment at any time at their sole discretion.

Standards – Lead Climbing:

  • All lead climbers must be reasonably comfortable red-pointing routes rated 5.10- top rope. This standard does not require the ability to regularly on-sight at this level.
  • Climbers may only tie in using a figure-eight-follow-through knot. A minimum of seven inches of tail is required; Yosemite finishes are permitted. Bowline knots are not permitted due to the number of variations and difficult nature of checking them.
  • Climber must demonstrate proficiency at clipping one handed. Climbers must clip all quickdraws correctly and from proper clipping stances. Back-clipping, z-clipping, clipping while positioned too low, clipping from difficult positions, and skipping clips are not permitted. Great care must be employed when selecting clipping stances and deciding when to clip. Falling while trying to clip will result in a longer fall.
  • Great care should be taken when climbing low on the wall. Falls taken before clipping fourth clip can easily result in collisions with the belayer and even ground falls. Strongly consider trying new routes on top rope first when possible, particularly when the grade of the route is near your limit.
  • Climbers must keep limbs clear of the lead rope at all time. 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 giving and taking slack as well as arresting falls with a manual tube type belay device. Other approved belay devices are permitted after testing.
  • The belayer’s brake hand may never leave the rope. Brake hand shuffling is strongly discouraged. TBUS (Take Brake Under Slide) is the best practice belay method, is the only method taught in the gym and is strongly encouraged for all belayers.
  • Lead belayers are required to maintain minimal slack. At no time should the slack loop hang lower than the belayer’s knees. Standing back too far from the wall puts unnecessary rope into the system and should be avoided.
  • All lead belayers must make every effort to remain directly under the first clip after their climber has cleared the space. At no time should any lead belayer be positioned more than 10 ft. from the point directly below the first clip. If the belayer has stepped back a few feet to provide rope tension they should step back into the wall as soon as they release the tension.
  • Dynamic belays are strongly encouraged. Wearing shoes while lead belaying is also strongly encouraged.
  • Belaying a climber weighing significantly more than you is challenging. Belayers at a significant weight disadvantage will be pulled very hard during a fall; they will likely leave their feet and could be pulled all the way to the first clip.
  • Newer, less experienced belayers will not be permitted to belay a climber outweighing them by more than 50 pounds. If you intend to belay someone substantially heavier than you are, consult an inSPIRE Rock Staff Member. They will need to observe you belaying again to ensure that your skill level and experience are adequate for this more challenging situation. inSPIRE Rock staff decisions on these matter are final.

Standards – Route Finding, Selection and Wall Sharing:

  • Leaders are asked to 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 any other climber, belayer or spectator. Be aware of the entire path of the route you are trying as well as those of the other climbers near you.
  • Routes sometimes meander. Selecting the appropriate clips to make is not always obvious. Deciding which clips will be clipped before attempting a route is strongly encouraged; confer with your belay partner and consult inSPIRE Rock staff if you are unsure which clips are best for a route.
  • Top roping on the monster is only permitted if the third clip from the ground is clipped to the top rope side of the rope. Without this crucial clip, any fall low on the route will result in a long unsafe swing.
  • Climbing the Monster as an arch traverse is not permitted. Doing so dominates too much wall real estate and the gym is too busy to allow it.
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