Climbing Classes

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Rock Climbing Safety Guidelines

for Outdoor Programs Climbing Classes

  • All instructors should read and be familiar with the Dartmouth Climbing Companion, available from OPO. Participants should receive a copy. Get these from Julie, Kathy or Brian.


  • Equipment is stored in the OPO climbing gear locker.
  • All equipment must be signed out on the clipboard inside the door each class, without exception.


1. Bouldering activities will not exceed safe spotting limits.

2. Participant spotters must be briefed by staff on spotting techniques and demonstrate those techniques.

3. Hard hats will be worn.

4. Emphasize the risks involved in bouldering and the limitation of spotting (high incidence of broken and sprained ankles).

Rock climbing, belaying, rappelling

1 Hard hats will be worn.

2. Instruction in climbing techniques will be progressive from basic to advance.

3. A safety belay will be used on all rock climbing and rappels -- this means an overhead belay with a separate rope.

4. Climbing rules, procedures and signals will be reviewed for participants before each climbing day.

5. All climbing areas will be reconnoitered and cleaned by staff before students may climb.

6. Climbing signals will be uniform throughout each course.

7. It is the responsibility of the instructor to see that belts are buckled correctly and that the harnesses fit well, knots are checked and carabiners locked on each occasion. (The actual checking may be delegated to a student.)

8. It is the responsibility of the chief instructor to see that appropriate emergency gear is available.

9. Equipment will be examined at the beginning of each climbing day.

10. No one will climb with students without permission of the Assistant Director of Outdoor Programs Office.

11. Climbing areas will not be overcrowded. There will be an adequate instructor/participant ratio specified by the Assistant Director of Outdoor Programs.

12. Closed system: The belayer must tie into the end of the rope or secure the end to the anchor, or tie a large knot to close the system. If not, the rope could run through their hands and they could drop the climber.



Should adhere to SRENE: they should be, Solid, Redundant, Equalized with No Extension.

1. Should be strong, bombproof and without question.

2. Staff must be completely confident with all anchors.

3. Whenever participants are operating around removable protection, check periodically to ensure that they have not reduced the security of the system.

4. Consider the direction properties of your anchor.


1. Participants should be thoroughly familiar with the hand coordination for belaying before participating in an actual belaying situation.

2. Demonstrate and practice the stitch plate belay, stressing: • Taut anchor line, attached to front of harness.

• Stable, braced position

• Importance of brake hand

• Use of primary climbing signals:




As well as:







3. Belaying through a fixed anchor can reduce the forces transmitted to the belayer if a fall occurs. Unattended anchors used for directional belays must be doubled.

4. Before each climbing session, the following will be covered: appropriate safety rules, hazards of particular sites (such as loose rock), ascending and descending trails, cliff edges, difficulty of climbs, and expectations of participants.

5. All belayers will be anchored.

6. When participants are belaying, staff will be in a position to arrest the belay rope if necessary. Use of a stacker or rope handler with beginning belayers is the rule. With more experience and with the approval of the climber in charge, the stacker may be omitted.

Staff Responsibilities

The "climber in charge" will be solely responsible for the session and its content. Essentially, the instructors and climbers, not the rules, keep the climbing safe and positive. It is important that the climber in charge communicate well beforehand what individual responsibilities are.

Sport Class Skills Checklist

Belaying the leader…. be supportive; pro-active.

Safe lowering…two hands.

Anchoring the belayer…pros and cons.

Belaying with a gri-gri.

Tie in using figure eight knot.

Communication…standard climbing calls.

Rope handling.

Equipment care.

Use of a climbing guidebook.

Stick clipping the first bolt.

Safe clipping….no back clips; no z-clips!

Efficient clipping….see handout.

Footwork and climbing techniques.

Finding clever rests.

Anchor clipping options.

Cleaning a sport route.

Emergency bail off a route.


Belay take-over.

Counterbalance ascend to assist a climber….rescue or assist the climber.

Rappel with an accident victim.

Multi-pitch sport climbing.

Stretching recommendations.

Slacklining PE Classes

a. Trees used must be 1 foot in diameter and be protected with burlap, rugs, etc.

b. The ground around the line must be inspected for rocks, branches, glass, metal, and any sharp objects at the start of each session

c. The area surrounding the line should be as flat as possible

d. The line should be inspected at the start of and during each sessions for any signs of wear

e. The line should not be higher than 3 feet off the ground

f. Newbies should be started at 1 foot off the ground (at it's lowest point when weighted)

g. Appropriate use of spotters should be employed

h. The area must be inspected for low hanging branches/twigs that might poke someone in the eye

i. Only one person on the line at a time

j. No running, stunts, or tricks on the line at any time