Ferg’s Kayaks Eight Week Lead Climbing Programme




Week one: Five point belaying on a gri-gri

Week two:Five point belaying on an ATC

Week three: Dummy lead climbing

Week four: Lead Belaying

Week five: Abseiling

Week six: Transition, lead to abseil

Week seven: Toprope anchor building, lead certs

Week eight: Lead climb up and set up anchor and get lowered

Course Components

Week One:

We will begin with a quick introduction to what we will teach in the course and assess where everyone is in terms of climbing experience. We would recommend that everyone be able to climb a grade sixteen climb easily in the top rope area of the gym before starting this course.

–        Explain and show the difference between auto and non-auto locking belay devices (ATC, Gri gri, figure eight…);

–        Explain belaying will be slightly different on a non-auto-locking device;

–        Explain clipping/tying in;

–        Teach 5point belaying on a gri-gri;

–        Explain lowering;

–        Explain what a smiley/back up belayer would do, and that while they are belaying in the gym with an ATC (until they pass their lead certificates) they will need a smiley.

Get them to practise everything, making sure the smiley is doing his/her job!

Week Two:

We will refresh on last week, and swap the gri-gri with an ATC:

–        Explain the dangers of using an ATC as opposed to an auto locking device;

–        Ensure they use smileys/back up belayers;

–        Get them to down climb on an easy climb, so the belayers can practise giving out slack for when they advance to lead climbing.


Week Three:              

We will teach the basics of lead climbing, getting the climbers to climb on the lead walls on top rope using another rope to dummy lead- clipping the clips and topping out. The focus is more on lead climbing, so the belayers still get practise on ATCs:

–        Explain how lead climbing works;

–        Demonstrate lead climbing with commentary on what the climber is doing, and give an example of a fall to show how the system works;

–        Explain how to clip and what is not safe – back clipping and z clipping- and where on the climb a good place to clip is;

–        Explain tying in – Figure Eight and stopper knots;

–        Explain calls: climber ready, belayer ready, climbing, on belay, clipping, clipped, slack, take, falling, top, I have got you…

–        (We explained about placing your own clips in a bolted outdoors route, as they picked this up quickly).

Week Four:

This week the focus is on lead belaying. Climbers will be lead climbing not on top rope:

–        Refresh climbers on clipping and tying in;

–        Another lead demonstration, this time with a focus on what the belayer is doing (taking slack, giving slack etc.);

–        Explain how much slack is appropriate, to anticipate when the climber will need slack, and that they can walk in closer to the wall, and further out from the wall if they wish to give and take slack quickly;

–        Get them to practise on easy climbs;

–        Ensure they use calls.

Week Five:

We will get them to abseil as if they had just topped out on a climb, and need to abseil down:

–        Show them how to set up an abseil system, with their ATC off their harness and off a daisy chain, and explain why you would do this one way or the other;

–        Get them to do it of ropes clipped through  quickdraws so they can set it up properly while not at a great height;

–        (If they pick up everything quickly, show them the clove hitch and Italian hitch and explain why they are useful, and how we use them when setting up an abseil in the gym)

–        Take them up the abseil tower, get them to abseil twice, once with a safety rope, and once without.

Week Six:

We will get them to climb up and safety themselves off, thread the rope through and abseil down as if they had just got to the top of a lead climb:

–        Begin by giving a demonstration from anchor points on the ground;

–        Get them to practise on the ground first;

–        Get them to climb to a height of about the first clip so they can practise without having the ground right beneath them, with an instructor sitting next to them;

–        Explain what gear would usually be present at the top of a bolted route outdoors (chains, bolts etc.) and when you would want to use this method (our bolts are probably to sharp to abseil like this, chains or rounded bolts are better);

–        Make sure they are able to set up the abseil system correctly, and abseil down safely

Week Seven:

This week we will set up a toprope anchor on the ground (as if they had just topped out a lead climb) and mark them off for their lead certificates:

–        Setting up a toprope anchor off two anchor points, using a sling\, overhand and three carabiners

–        Explain more about picking anchor points outdoors

–        Assess them for their lead certs


Week Eight:

This week will be an accumulation of all the skills learnt so far. Climbers will lead up to two bolts and set up a top  rope system, then get lowered by their belay partners with an instrtuctor sitting next to them at the top of the wall.

At the same time they will climb again and clear the tope rope system and abseil dowm with normal transition method.This will give them a chance to practice their Tope rope transition plus normal transition.