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General Climbing Discussion

Lead belaying proficiency

3:57:03 PM
Hi everyone!

I'm interested in people's opinions on gym lead belaying proficiency.... recently at Vic Ranges I was told that there is no lead belaying proficiency available, only a lead climbing proficiency which includes lead belaying. I found this strange since I am quite proficient at belaying my climbing partner outdoors but since I have no desire to lead climb myself at this stage I am apparently unable to belay my climbing partner on lead climbs at VR. I was told that it was related to insurance and that their records system doesn't separate lead belaying from lead climbing proficiency. I was told, however, that for the handy price of $35 I could participate in a one-evening lead climbing proficiency course at VR. I have no wish to hand over such a sum when all I want at this stage is to belay, and I believe there is a lot for me to learn through being on the anchored end of the rope. What is the situation at other gyms? I wouldn't like to see other people handing over $35 for a lead climbing proficiency course when all they want to do is belay... I think the VR policy is an unfortunate and thinly disguised piece of marketing and that it would take very little effort to distinguish on their records who can lead climb and who can belay.


4:14:14 PM
Seems odd. Most climbers who lead at Vic Ranges have not handed over $35 for the privllege. A 5 minute check by a staff member is usually what happens. When they see you know what you are doing they leave you alone. I am unsure if that is the 'official' policy though.

5:19:59 PM
ditto nunawading although they have new requirements every time I go back there - bout once a year. No cost though.

12:13:02 PM
My apologies, let me clarify: VR are quite willing to give you the lead climbing proficiency without doing the $35 course if you are already able to lead climb and can show what you're doing.

However, if you have only lead belayed, and only want to lead belay, and haven't much experience lead climbing, VR will not give you a lead belay proficiency without the lead climbing proficiency and so their solution is that you pay $35 for a lead climbing course and learn how to lead climb in the gym.

I don't see why the lead belay and the lead climbing proficiency can't be separate, and so my question is; are the two proficiencies in fact separate at other gyms? I have heard that perhaps Cliffhanger and The Rock do keep them separate.
2:34:23 PM
I don't know if I'm missing something here, but if you want to lead belay, and you need to prove to the gym that you can also lead climb, can't you just get them to assess you on one of the easy lead climbs in the gym? I'm sure there are a couple of 15/16s that are leadable. It's not as if they make you lead all the hardest roof problems before they judge you as being proficient...

3:32:25 PM
yeh but my gf can quite happily lead belay me.. albeit with a bit of a tight rope sometimes ;) but you won't get her on the sharp end no matter how easy.. not at the moment anyways ;-)

9:57:18 AM
Thanks Rich!

Now, I have been able to confirm that Cliffhanger require only lead belay proficiency in order for a person to lead belay, and that lead climbing is dealt with separately. As was pointed out by the staff at Cliffhanger, it is the belaying that is more important than the lead climbing proficiency as far as preventing accidents and so their focus is on the belaying side of things. No $35 course required. Much better.

Does anyone have any comments regarding other gyms - Nunawading or The Rock?

4:20:39 PM
Hi all, to clarify it from a gym's perspective...

I think all the gyms offer a free ‘Fast Track’ lead check for those that can demonstrate suitable proficiency. I know ours (and I think Hard Rock's) takes around 20 minutes. We will offer a lead check as a belayer (and you are right, it is the most important part). They take longer than 5 minutes as we watch the climbers clip correctly, and take a fall. We go through the local gym rules, such as no seconding, no skipping clips etc, all the good things set down by the EN Artificial Climbing Structure Standard, the wall builders, insurance companies, gym association and of course the gym itself.

Both parties will need to sign Lead Waivers at any of the gyms these days - of course!!!

The $35+/- courses offered by most gyms are usually for someone that has never lead before or someone that fails the minimum proficiency of the 'fast-track' test – it happens regularly! Those courses typically take around 1.5 – 2 hours, hence the charge.

So the key really is, demonstrate a suitable proficiency and it’s all free.

From Cliffhanger's perspective, it's important to note that NOT all staff are capable of doing "Fast Track" lead checks, so it is not a given that you can have one done on demand on any given night - another Insurance requirement unfortunately.



5:25:44 PM
no probs spanky!

There are 9 messages in this topic.


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