Climbing is not without risk, and here at Spire we work very hard to ensure the safety of our guests and staff. We have developed a system of qualifications for bouldering, top-roping, Autobelay use, and lead climbing/belaying. Think of these as a checklist to make your climbing experience as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Bouldering is a great way to start climbing and requires the least amount of gear of any of the various disciplines. Spire does not require any lessons for bouldering, but here are some things to keep in mind to stay safe:
- Do not boulder any higher than you are comfortable falling from.
- Do not top-out any of the boulders at Spire
- Holds can spin or break unexpectedly, so keep this in mind while climbing.
- Use spotters and/or a crashpad for difficult sections.
- When spotting, do not try to catch the climber — instead try to direct their fall and keep their head from hitting the ground.
- Roped climbers have priority over boulderers on the top rope and lead walls.
- Do not boulder or climb under other climbers.
- No bouldering over 15 feet for adults. No bouldering above head height for children 12 and younger.
- Feel free to drag the crashpads under a difficult problem.
Safety: Top Roping
Top roping is typically the best way to get introduced to climbing and will give climbers a feel for the exhilaration of scaling our walls! We teach top-rope lessons any time we are open for no additional fee. Lessons usually take around 20-30 minutes and are hands-on throughout.
- A belay check is required before top-roping at Spire. If the climber already knows how to belay, please see the front desk to take a quick belay test. If they do not, a free belay lesson is included in the price of a day pass.
- Belayers must be 14 or older to belay.
- Harnesses and belay devices must be UIAA-approved and the harness should be worn above the hips and correctly fastened.
- Buddy checks must be performed before every climb.
- The rewoven figure-8 knot should be used with at least a fistful of tail.
- Belayers should utilize good communication before beginning to climb and before lowering.
- Proper belay technique should be utilized at all times, with the brake hand never coming off the brake line.
- Understand how to lower using the Grigri and never pull the brake lever before the climber has completely let go of the wall.
Safety: Lead Climbing and Lead Belaying
Lead climbing is a more advanced style of climbing and requires a higher level of competency than top-roping. Our memberships come with a free Intro to Lead lesson if the climber can onsight (climb without any falls on their first try) 5.9. All lead climbers and belayers must be checked off by a staff member before they are allowed to lead climb or belay at Spire. Learning to lead climb is a required step to be a self-sufficient outdoor climber, and the gym is a safe environment to learn this important skill.
- All of the top rope requirements must be followed (buddy checks, correctly setup equipment, proper belay technique, etc.).
- Know how to setup a belay device and spot the climber to their first clip.
- Maintain control of the brake line at all times.
- Execute a soft catch to lessen the impact forces on the climber. We do require the belayer demonstrate that they are capable of catching a small lead fall.
- Knowing how to feed slack and take in slack while maintaining control of the brake line.
- Proper rope managment.
- Know what z-clipping and backclipping are, and the consequences of both.
- Demonstrate control while climbing.
- Clipping efficiently and without dropping the rope or backclipping.
- No skipping quickdraws
- Proper body positioning in relation to the rope. Don't let leg run behind the rope while climbing.
The Autobelay systems are great when a partner is hard to find, or the climber wants to work on their endurance. They are very safe, but precautions must be taken to ensure climber safety while using these systems.
- Our Autobelay systems are made by TRUBLUE and use magnets to guarantee the safety of the climber. More info on how they work can be found here.
- Climbers must be at least 14 years old to clip themselves into the Autobelay systems. Younger climbers can be clipped in and unclipped by a qualified participant.
- Always climb under the TRUBLUE system. Routes that can be climbed on the auto belays are marked as such on the route tag.
- Always do a buddy check on yourself when using the auto belays. Most accidents on auto belay systems result from the climber not clipping into the system or neglecting to double back their harness.
- Only one person on the auto belay at a time.
- Check the landing zone and alert people standing below when there is a climber coming down.
- Gates on the two carabiners must be opposed and clipped through the belay loop of the harness.
- Always tug down on the auto belay before starting to ensure that it is retracting properly.