Climbing wall regulations include course certification

Climbing wall regulations include course certification

Students use the new climbing wall at the Student Activity Center near Presidential Village. CW | Pete Pajor

Mary Catherine Hodges

With the opening of the new rock wall at Presidential Village’s Student Activity Center, the University’s former safety policies have been changed to put an emphasis on safety for UA student climbers of all experience levels. New regulations allow students one free climb, after which all returning climbers must undergo a two-hour belay certification course in order to continue climbing.

“This is a 40-foot wall compared to what used to be only 18 feet,” Wren Smith, a masters student in accounting, said. “The height of the new wall has an increased risk factor, which means that new safety precautions must be taken.”

In order to become belay-certified climbers and continue to climb at either of the University’s two rock walls, students must attend a belay training class hosted by the climbing staff. The belay certification course covers the critical issues of belaying, equipment safety, effective belay technique, a how-to on auto belay usage and lessons on how to properly “tie in” yourself and other climbers.

Smith, who has been working at the Student Recreation Center rock wall since 2011, said the better climbers understand how the belay and climbing processes work, the more equipped they will be to climb at higher levels of difficulty.

“The more experienced you are with climbing, the more freedoms you have while on the wall,” he said.

The goal of the new belay certification requirement is to encourage a more serious climbing atmosphere, while keeping a relaxed and enjoyable environment.

“What they learn in this course is incredibly beneficial to climbers not just at the Rec, but also as they extend their climbing boundaries into the outside world,” said Lauren Gilmer, an employee at the climbing wall and a junior majoring in psychology and English.

With the addition of the new tower and the installation of the belay certification policy, the climbing department is in the process of expanding the types of climbing available at the walls. Currently top roping (climbing with someone on the ground to belay you) and bouldering are offered.

Belay classes are offered Mondays and Tuesdays at 5 p.m. and Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. For more information on belay certification or to register for the course, visit either of the climbing walls at the Student Recreation Center or new Student Activity Center.