The Climbing Wall is an Aztec Recreation membership benefit. Located inside the ARC and supervised by the Aztec Adventures team, the wall is 30 feet high with 9 top ropes giving 1500 square feet of climbing space. To climb members must complete the one-hour Safety Orientation Class.
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Climbing Wall Safety Orientation
The ARC Climbing Wall will be closed for open climbing Friday, February 12th for a special event. We will be reopening on Monday, February 15th at 3:00pm for normal climbing hours. Our Climbing Wall Orientation session Friday, February 12th will resume as scheduled from 6:00pm - 7:00pm.
Mon, Jan 25 - Fri, Mar 25
Mon, Apr 4 - Fri, Apr 29
Monday - Thursday: 2pm-3pm
Successful completion of the one-hour Safety Orientation Class is required to climb regardless of experience.
- Avoiding risk and injury
- Belaying Skills and communication
- Procedures & policies
- Equipment use and care
- Attitude & etiquette towards safety
Pre-Safety Orientation Video
All those wishing to access the Climbing Wall are required to view this video prior to registering for a Safety Orientation. Maintain video link & Video Transcript
This Climbing Wall Quiz, which reinforces the Video Instruction, will be administered at the start of the Safety Orientation. Anyone scoring less than 100% will not be permitted to continue with the one hour class. Climbing Wall Orientation Quiz (PDF)
Climbing Wall Orientation Video Transcript
Scene 1: Introduction
Intro: Welcome to the Aztec Recreation Center climbing wall orientation video. Whether you’re an experienced climber or a first timer, we’re excited to have you here. This video is designed to familiarize you with the safety procedures at the Aztec Recreation Center climbing wall and demonstrate important climbing skills. Pay close attention because you will be asked to complete a short quiz at the end of this video.
Scene 2: entering the wall
- Please check our website for current hours of operation and times for scheduled orientations.
- As you approach the climbing wall office, please review the posted safety guidelines as all access to the climbing wall depends on these important actions.
- You can store all personal items in the cubbies on the far wall.
- Please sign in before gearing up to climb.
- If you need to check out gear, simply ask a staff member.
- You’re now ready to participate in our orientation.
Scene 3: orientations
- An orientation is a critical first step in the climbing process because you will be taught how to use the technical equipment ensuring a safe experience for you and other climbers.
- During this orientation you will be taught:
- What forms of climbing can be done at our wall
- Important safety measures when climbing.
- How to communicate with your climbing partner.
- And how to safely use the technical equipment.
- Next we will walk you through the orientation
Scene 4: top-rope climbing
- One form of climbing is called top-roping.
- Top-roping requires that both climber and belayer clip into opposite ends of the rope.
- A belayer is the person which operates the friction device from the ground.
- When top-roping, be sure to communicate with your belayer. This includes visually checking the security of each other’s gear and verbally communicating before you start to climb.
- The climber must receive a verbal confirmation from their belayer that they are ready before starting to climb.
- Climbers on top-rope must climb under the bar from which their rope is hanging in order to avoid potentially harmful swinging falls
- When ready to descend, the climber must communicate his or her intent with the belayer
- We will now demonstrate proper use of the technical safety equipment for top-rope climbing.
Scene 5: putting on a harness
- Before top-rope climbing you must first put on a harness.
- To properly fit the harness, first find the belay loop. This will always be positioned in front.
- Loosen all buckles before stepping into the harness
- Now find the two leg loops and be sure that they are hanging evenly under the waist belt and are not twisted
- Next, step through the waist belt and into the leg loops like a pair of pants
- Pull the harness up around your waist and tighten the waist belt first. Be sure that the waist belt is positioned above your hip bones to prevent the possibility of sliding out.
- The waist belt should be tight enough so that only a single finger fits between your body and the harness.
- Finally, tighten the leg loops. Again, the leg loops should allow you to only fit one finger.
- Now you can clip into the rope
- As you approach the rope, notice the difference in the two ends.
- One end has a single locking carabiner. This end is clipped into by the climber. Always clip into the belay loop on the front of your harness. This is the only safe attachment point. The carabiners are designed to autolock, however you must always check to ensure the carabiner is fully locked. This is easily done by using the squeeze check.
Scene 6: clipping in and belaying
- The other end of the rope has both a locking carabiner and a belay device. This end is used by the belayer.
- When clipping into this device, be sure that the loose strand of rope exits on the side of your dominant hand. This is important because you will never let go of this strand of rope while your partner climbs. As the belayer, be sure to check that your carabiner is fully locked by using the squeeze check.
- The strength of the gear is strong enough to hold even the heaviest of climbers. Our carabiners are rated to hold up to 30 kilonewtons, which is over 6700 pounds. The belay device, harness and rope are designed to hold similar amounts of weight, if not more.
- When belaying, there is one main rule that the belayer must follow and one main job that the belayer must fulfill.
- The one rule is, never take your dominant hand off the brake strand!
- The one job is to pull slack through the belay device so that you limit the length of the climbers fall.
- In order to pull slack through the belay device we use a method called the BUS technique.
Scene 7: close up belaying
- The belay technique used at the Aztec Recreation Climbing Wall is called the BUS technique which stands for Brake, Under, Slide. This refers to the steps used in the process of belaying which will now be explained in detail.
- The BUS technique consists of simultaneously pulling slack down with your non-dominant hand while pulling this same slack through the belay device with your dominant or brake hand. This is the "brake" portion of the BUS technique.
- Now, without taking your dominant hand off the rope and keeping this hand below your waist, grab the rope with your non-dominant hand below your dominant hand and slide your dominant hand back up towards your belay device. This illustrates the "under" and "slide" portion of the BUS technique.
- By repeating this process, you can safely belay your climber to the top of the wall.
- Watch closely as we continue to demonstrate this technique.
Scene 8: catching a fall and lowering
- As the belayer, you are responsible for catching the climber if they fall. This is why you must always keep your dominant hand on the rope. If the climber unexpectedly falls, you must have a firm grip on the rope in order to stop the rope from sliding through the belay device. The belay device is used to assist in catching the climber but does not take the place of an attentive belayer.
- When catching a fall, bring your dominant hand down by your waist for the most holding power.
- As the belayer, you are also responsible for lowering the climber to the floor.
- When the climber has reached the top of the wall or is ready to be lowered, bring your dominant hand down by your waist and allow the climber to weight the rope. Once they have weighted the rope you can use your nondominant hand to grab the black lever on the belay device. Pull this lever all the way down and allow the rope to slowly slide through the belay device by loosening your grip.
- It is your job to control the speed of descent. However, if the speed becomes too fast to control, let go of the black lever and the climber’s fall will be arrested.
- As the climber, put your feet out against the wall and walk down when being lowered.
Scene 9: bouldering
- Bouldering is another type of climbing which can be done at our Wall.
- Bouldering does not require the use of any ropes as it is done much closer to the ground
- Whenever bouldering be sure to use a boulder pad in order to soften your falls.
- Although bouldering can be done alone, it is always recommended to have a spotter
- As a spotter, your job is not to catch the climber if they fall, but to guide them to the ground, ensuring that they land on the pad
- Watch as the spotter properly guides this climbers fall
- When spotting, be sure that you keep your thumbs in towards your palm in order to ensure that your thumbs are not caught on the falling climber and potentially injured
- When bouldering, no climber is permitted to climb high enough to have their shoulders pass the red line on the wall.
- When bouldering, do not climb above other climbers or objects that may injure you in the event of a fall.
- Those who are climbing on a rope always have the right of way so please respect their passage
Scene 10: following routes
- The colored tape designates different climbing routes. Following these routes is a way of increasing the difficulty of your climbing. The objective is to follow only that color to the top of the wall or along your boulder route.
- All top-rope climbs will have a label where you will see a name for the route, and a number designating the grade of difficulty.
- There may also be other descriptions: "wall on" designates that the climber is allowed to use the side wall. "Any feet" means that the climber is allowed to use any hold for their feet and required to follow the route with their hands. It can be assumed that a route which does not say "any feet" requires that climbers put hands and feet on the tagged holds.
- Boulder routes are designated with a "V" and wider 2" tape. The "V"marks the start and finish holds of the route.
Scene 11: grading system
- All routes are given a grade of difficulty. These grades are different for boulder routes and top-rope routes.
- Top-rope routes are rated using the Yosemite decimal system. With this system, you will notice the number 5 followed by a decimal point and another number. This number after the decimal will designate the difficulty of the route.
- The routes at our wall will generally range from 5.6 to 5.12. The higher the number the more difficult the climb.
- Climbs rated 5.10 or higher may have a letter designation after the grade ranging between "A" and "D". The letter further specifies difficulty. For example, a 5.11b would be slightly harder than a 5.11a.
- Boulder routes are rated using the Vermin scale. This system is the letter V followed by a number.
- The routes at our wall generally range from 0 to 8 and, again, the higher the number the harder the route.
- When following routes for the first time, start with something easy and slowly work your way up to more challenging climbs.
Scene 12: conclusion
- If you have any questions, please ask our climbing staff, they are more than qualified and enjoy helping you become a better climber.
- Additional climbing opportunities include registering for a one unit ENS climbing class offered every semester or sign up for an Aztec Adventure weekend climbing trip to Joshua Tree National Park. Ask a staff member or visit the ARC website if you have more questions.
- Now that you are familiar with the climbing wall at the Aztec Recreation Center, your next step is to register online for one of our staff taught orientations. After completing this course, you will have full access to the Aztec Recreation Center Climbing Wall.
- Thanks for your attention and thank you for helping us keep the climbing wall a safe and rewarding place to climb!