Safety Guidelines

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Climbing Safety Guidelines

  • Use only climbing equipment that has been made specifically for use with accepted rope-assisted climbing activities by reputable manufacturers.  Follow manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Inspect all gear before each climb. Climb only on gear that passes your inspection.
  • Triple-action carabiners must be used for all life-saving clip-in points.  Attach your life support carabiner to the climbing line with a cinching knot to prevent cross loading.
  • Approved climbing helmets, buckled, shall be worn in trees and drop zones.
  • Perform a safety pre-climb inspection of the tree.
  • As a very general rule of thumb tie in to a live branch of at least 6 inches in diameter no more than half the distance from the trunk to the tip of the branch.
  • Check the strength of your anchor point before climbing.
  • Perform a B.A.C.K. check, or another appropriate check, before climbing and when changing tie-in point.
  • Climb within your skill level.
  • Try any new technique or equipment low and slow.  Seek guidance from more experienced climbers. 
  • Climbers must always stay tied in. No free climbing.
  • No climbing above anchor point.
  • No fast descents.
  • Use cambium savers. Not needed for SRS.
  • Use shout commands (see below). Recommended: climb with a whistle.
  • This is a clean and sober activity. Avoid the use of alcohol, narcotics, and illegal drugs.
  • Respect the weather. Do not climb in lightning, storms, and other extreme weather events.

Personal Precautions Guidelines

  • Remove jewelry.
  • Tie back long hair.
  • Secure eyeglasses.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather and rugged outdoor activity.
  • Do not put hands and feet where you cannot see them.
  • Climb with at least one other climber.
  • Stay hydrated (and fed).
  • Have a first aid kit on site.
  • Respect fatigue and health-related struggles.

Shout Commands

Call this ONLY in an emergency. Stop all activity, be quiet, see how you can assist.

Stop all activity, be quiet, and await further information or instructions.

Shout this before you throw a throw weight into the tree (by whatever means).

Yell this before you drop something, such as a dead branch, gear, or personal item.

Yell this if you have ceased to drop things or to indicate that you moved away from the drop zone while things are being dropped.

Free rope!
Shout this when you are pulling a rope out of the tree.

On rope!
Shout this when you are attached to the rope and ready to climb.

Off rope!
Shout this when you have reached the ground and have unclipped from the rope.

Down check!
Yell this to request those who can see clearly to tell you, the climber, whether your rope is long enough to get down safely.

Down check OK!
This call comes from the person who has made a clear visual observation of the climber’s rope and determined that its length is sufficient to get the climber safely to the ground.

Use this to alert climbers above that you or passersby are about to walk into the drop zone (always with helmet!), so the climbers can avoid accidentally dropping something.

Gate check!
This call lets people know that you are checking the main clip-in carabiner gate to see that it is firmly closed and locked before climbing. You can also use this as a request (reminder) to another climber for them to check their life-saving clip-in points.

B.A.C.K. Check!
This call informs others – and yourself – that you are checking four safety points (Belt, Anchor, Carabiner, Knots) before putting your weight on the rope in an MSR system. Good practice: ask a climbing buddy to watch for a double check.

B.A.A.D. Check!
This call informs others – and yourself – that you are checking four safety points (Belt, Anchor, Ascending device, Descending device) before putting your weight on the rope in an SRS system. Good practice: ask a climbing buddy to watch for a double check.