By Darryl Alder
Dec 22, 2014

Get ready for Spring and Summer climbing trips!

Quarry ClimbBSA Level 1 and 2 climbing class will be held on Thursday, January 7th–Friday 8th (7pm–10pm) and Saturday 9th, (9am–4pm) at the Orem Service Center, 748 No 1340 West in Orem (just east of the DMV)

The course continues at the Quarry, 2494 North University Parkway, in Provo, Thursday,  January 15th, (7pm–10pm) and Saturday, 17th (9am–4pm).  There will be an hour break for lunch on Saturdays

Cost for 5 days of training is $150 per person.

If you are interested contact Debbie Spoons Council Climbing Committee Chair at ddspoons@yahoo.com for more information. Register early, class size is very limited.


Climbing Merit BadgeBecause there is inherent risk in climbing and rappelling activities even when working on the Climbing Merit Badge special precaution needs to be taken so that risk can be minimized. You must follow the eight rules of Climb on Safely:

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: A Scout troop would like to conduct a unit-level climbing/rappelling activity at a nearby park. How can troop leaders organize a safe outing?
Answer: They must adhere to the eight points of Climb On Safely listed above. First, the unit must ensure qualified supervision. The unit must complete a tour and activity plan, and the unit must comply with the BSA’s two-deep leadership requirements for the outing. At least one of the leaders must have completed Climb On Safely training, and at least one member of the group must have
first-aid training from a recognized agency. The unit must secure qualified instructors and ensure that each climber is physically fit for the outing.
Instructors should ensure a safe area by verifying that only established climbing sites will be used, that all equipment is new or provided by the instructor, and that the equipment is of the proper size and type for the group members.
Unit leaders must ensure proper planning by gathering the proper parental consent forms, site permits, and contingency plans. Lastly, while on the outing, leaders must monitor environmental conditions, enforce the buddy system for all members, and maintain discipline while conducting climbing/ rappelling activities.

Question: May a non-Scout group use a BSA climbing tower and equipment?
Answer: A non-Scout group desiring to use BSA climbing facilities or equipment must sign a hold-harmless/release agreement and provide a certificate of liability insurance in the amount of at least $2 million. If the group uses BSA equipment, a BSA climbing Level II instructor must supervise the program in accordance with the climbing/rappelling national standards.
Alternatively, the group may use its own equipment and qualified instructors with the council’s approval.

Question: May a Cub Scout pack climb at the local climbing gym?
Answer: Yes, as long as the facility has properly sized equipment and the activity is age-appropriate. The facility must have proof of liability insurance. Cub Scouts are not permitted to rappel or belay; they must be lowered by a competent belayer. Webelos Scouts may rappel with a trained belayer. When using a commercial climbing gym, its policies regarding its climbing facilities and equipment apply, including the use of the gym’s auto-belay units. The group must follow the points of Climb On Safely while participating in any climbing activity.

Question: Is lead climbing permitted in BSA situations?
Answer: Yes, lead climbing, sport climbing, ice climbing, canyoneering, mountaineering, caving, and similar activities are allowed for unit climbing activities as long as the points of Climb On Safely are followed. Qualified instructors with specific training and skill in instructing these activities are
required. Because all council and district climbing/rappelling activities must be top-roped, lead climbing, ice climbing, and mountaineering are not allowed in council and district activities. However, using a top-rope belay when lead climbing or ice climbing (known as “mock” lead or ice climbing) is allowed as a council or district climbing activity

Age-Appropriate Climbing and Rappelling Guidelines

Cub Scouts

  • Bouldering no higher than the climber’s shoulder height, with trained adult spotters. (This pertains to climbing on boulders or other steep faces without going more than a few feet off the ground, protected by spotters rather than a rope belay.)
  • Climbing in a climbing gym or using a portable wall or other age-appropriate facility with close supervision and age-appropriate instruction and equipment.
    Climbing is not allowed at natural sites.
  • Climbers will be lowered by a belayer. No rappelling by Cub Scouts.

Webelos Scouts

  • Bouldering no higher than the climber’s shoulder height, with trained spotters.
  • Climbing in a climbing gym or using a portable wall or other age-appropriate facility with close supervision and age-appropriate instruction and equipment.
  • Rappelling with a trained belayer.
  • Climbers must be belayed by trained belayers.

Boy Scouts Ages 11 to 12

  • Bouldering no higher than the climber’s shoulder height, with trained spotters.
  • Top-rope climbing with trained belayers.
  • Rappelling with trained belayers.
  • Belaying with supervision and a backup.

Older Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers

  • Bouldering no higher than the climber’s shoulder height, with trained spotters.
  • Top-rope climbing with trained belayers.
  • Belaying with supervision.
  • Rappelling with trained belayers.
  • All council and district climbing must be top-roped.
  • Practice lead climbing with a top-rope belay.
  • Units with youth who are at least 13 years of age may elect to participate in lead climbing and/or snow and ice climbing with training from a nationally recognized organization that trains climbing instructors. BSA climbing directors and instructors are not trained in lead climbing or snow and ice climbing.

The bottomline: protecting youth and adults during climbing/rappelling activities by following the principles of Climb On Safely below:

1. Qualified Supervision—All climbing and rappelling must be supervised by a mature, conscientious adult at least 21 years of age who understands the risks inherent to these activities. This person knowingly accepts responsibility for the well-being and safety of the youth in his or her care. This adult supervisor is trained in and committed to compliance with the eight points of the Boy Scouts of America’s Climb On Safely procedure. One additional adult who is at least 18 years of age must also accompany the unit. Units with more than 10 youths in the same climbing/rappelling session must have an additional adult leader at least 18 years of age for each 10 additional youth participants. In other words, a group of 11 to 20 youths requires at least three adult leaders; a group of 21 to 30 youths would require four adult leaders, and so on.

The adult supervisor is responsible for ensuring that someone in the group is currently certified in American Red Cross Standard First Aid and CPR (a 6 1/2-hour course). In addition, the two-hour module “First Aid—When Help Is Delayed” is recommended. A course of equivalent length and content from another nationally recognized organization can be substituted. A higher level of certification such as emergency medical technician (EMT), licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), and licensed health-care practitioner is also acceptable. The ARC’s Emergency Response, a 43 1/2-hour course that includes CPR, is highly recommended.

2. Qualified SupervisionA qualified climbing/rappelling instructor who is at least 21 years of age and trained in the specific type of climbing must supervise all BSA climbing/rappelling activities. A capable instructor has experience in teaching climbing and rappelling to youth, acknowledges personal limitations, and exercises good judgment in a variety of circumstances.

There must be a minimum of two instructors for all climbing and rappelling activities (up to 12 participants) and one additional instructor (at least 18 years of age) for up to each additional six participants, maintaining a 6:1 ratio. Sources of qualified climbing and rappelling instructors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • BSA Level II instructor (climbing director or lead instructor)
  • National Outdoor Leadership School
  • Wilderness Education Association
  • American Mountain Guides Association
  • Eastern Mountain Sports
  • University or college climbing/rappelling instructors
  • Professional Climbing Guide Institute
  • Professional Climbing Instructors Association

For specialized climbing activities such as lead climbing, sport climbing, ice climbing, canyoneering, mountaineering, and caving, qualified instructors with specific training and skill in instructing these activities are required.

Qualified instruction is essential to conducting a safe climbing/rappelling activity. Some people who claim to be qualified or have had some experience with climbing or rappelling may lack sufficient knowledge to safely conduct these activities. For instance, some climbers with a lot of experience have repeated the same mistakes many times without learning correct procedures.

3. Physical Fitness—Require evidence of fitness for the climbing/rappelling activity with a current BSA Annual Health and Medical Record. The adult supervisor should adapt all supervision, discipline, and precautions to anticipate any potential risks associated with individual health conditions. The adult supervisor should inform the climbing instructor about each participant’s medical conditions.

4. Safe AreaAll BSA climbing/rappelling activities must be conducted using an established climbing/rappelling site or facility, including a portable or commercial facility. A qualified climbing instructor should survey the site in advance of the activity to identify and evaluate possible hazards and to determine whether the site is suitable for the age, maturity, and skill level of the participants. The instructor should also verify that the site is sufficient to safely and comfortably accommodate the number of participants in the activity within the available time. An emergency evacuation route must be identified in advance.

5. Equipment— All BSA climbing/rappelling activities must be conducted using an established climbing/rappelling site or facility. A qualified climbing instructor should survey the site in advance of the activity to identify and evaluate possible hazards and to determine whether the site is suitable for the age, maturity, and skill level of the participants. The instructor should also verify that the site is sufficient to safely and comfortably accommodate the number of participants in the activity within the available time. An emergency evacuation route must be identified in advance. A separate area should be established for onlookers.

Each participant and staff member in the fall zone of a climbing/rappelling site must wear a UIAA- or CE-approved rock-climbing helmet. Everyone must be anchored or tethered when within eight feet of a falling hazard.

6. Planning— When planning, remember the following:

  • Submit a tour and activity plan and receive approval from your local council service center.
  • Share the climbing/rappelling plan and an alternate with parents and the unit committee.
  • Secure the necessary permits or written permission for using private or public lands.
  • Enlist the help of a qualified climbing instructor.
  • Be sure the instructor has a topographic map for the area being used and obtains a current weather report for the area before the group’s departure.

It is suggested that at least one of the adult leaders has an electronic means of communication in case of an emergency. Before any activity, an adult leader should develop and share an emergency plan that includes the location of a nearby medical facility and the means of communicating with parents during the activity.

 7. Environmental Conditions— The instructor, each adult leader, and each participant assume responsibility for monitoring potentially dangerous environmental conditions that may include loose, crumbly rock; poisonous plants; wildlife; and inclement weather. Use the buddy system to monitor concerns such as dehydration, hypothermia, and an unusually high degree of fear or apprehension. The adult supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the group leaves no trace of its presence at the site.

8. Discipline — Each participant knows, understands, and respects the rules and procedures for safely climbing and rappelling and follows Climb On Safely and Leave No Trace. All participants should respect and follow all instructions and rules of the climbing instructor. The applicable rules should be presented and learned prior to the outing and should be reviewed for all participants before climbing or rappelling begins. When participants know the reasons for rules and procedures, they are more likely to follow them. The climbing instructor must be strict and fair, showing no favoritism.

Darryl Thumbnail
Author: Darryl Alder | Director of Strategic Initiatives, Utah National Parks Council, BSA

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2 thoughts on “Get ready for Spring and Summer climbing trips!

    1. AvatarDebbie

      The correct dates for the class are
      Thursday January 8th, Friday January 9th, Saturday, January 10th, / Thursday, January 15th & Saturday January 17th. Thursdays and Fridays 7-10pm Saturdays 9-4pm

      Reply

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