BASIC MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR ROCK CLIMBING ARTIFICIAL WALL CLIMBING AND ABSEILING
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BASIC MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR ROCK CLIMBING ARTIFICIAL WALL CLIMBING AND ABSEILING

Climbing and abseiling are enjoyable adventure activities. They are growing in popularity in India.

INTRODUCTION

4.1 Climbing and abseiling are enjoyable adventure activities. They are growing in popularity in India. However, if not conducted safely they can cause significant injury or death. The purpose of this minimum standard is to define the correct practice and recognised climbing techniques for operating climbing and abseiling. It applies to purpose-built (artificial) structures and/or single pitch climbing venues with fixed protection systems. The goal of this standard is to promote and ensure the safe practice and continued enjoyment of climbing and abseiling activities.
Terms and definitions

4.2  Single Pitch – An easily accessible climbing venue where both top and bottom of the climbing surface can be accessed safely by foot without the need for personal protective equipment and roped systems.

4.3  Fixed protection systems – “Bolts” or “anchors” specifically designed and fitted for the purpose of attaching roped systems to a structure/natural climbing venue

4.4  The safety chain – The anchor; the rope; the karabiners and slings; the knots; the harness; the alert belayer

4.5  Bottom roping – where the belayer is situated at the bottom of the climb and the rope is directed through an anchor at the top of the climb and back down to the climber

4.6  Top roping – where the belayer is situated at the top of the climb and the rope is directed from the belay system directly to the climber.

4.7  Lead climbing – where the climber places protection during the climb and has no roped protection above

4.8  Leader placed protection – is protection specifically designed for the use of lead climbing and rigging where no fixed protection is available

4.9  Fall factor – a method in which to scale the severity and force of a fall. In climbing (specifically in lead climbing) using a dynamic rope, the fall factor (f) is the ratio of the height (h) a climber falls before the climber's rope begins to stretch and the rope length (L) available to absorb the energy of the fall. f=h/L

GUIDES/INSTRUCTORS

4.10  Guides and instructors who are supervising climbing and abseiling activities should, as a minimum, hold valid certificates the following;

a) A minimum 8 hour (1 day) first aid course provided by a recognised and qualified provider

b) Completed the Basic Mountaineering Course from any of the National Mountaineering Institutes and be certified by a MOI Qualified Instructor to have assisted climbing and abseiling activities for a minimum of 100 hours OR Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) recognised Sports Climbing Instructors course or have sufficient experience certified by suitably qualified Coaches/Instructors duly recognised by the IMF.

EQUIPMENT

4.11  The correct use and proper maintenance of climbing equipment is essential for conducting safe climbing and abseiling activities and should never be taken lightly.

4.12  Although these standards do not cover the fitting or construction of fixed protection systems, these systems should be rated by the manufacturer and have a quantifiable safe working load. As a minimum standard for such systems, operators must adhere to a safety factor of 3 in accordance to the operators’ weight limitations. In addition, fixed protection systems must be proven to withstand 10KN (1 ton) without displaying any visible deformation or damage. In order to fully understand appropriate fixed anchor/protection systems an operator must also have a sound knowledge of static/dynamic load and fall factors .

4.13 Rated and quality assured personal protective equipment or PPE must be used. An internationally recognised safe working load for such equipment is 25KN (2.5 tons). In order to comply with this standard it is recommended that all PPE is CE approved. Here is a list of the minimum PPE requirements for an average climbing and/or abseiling session:

4.14 Harness – The single most important piece of personal protective equipment which allows the climber to be safely attached to the roped system and is also a “link” of the safety chain. Harnesses however do not fit themselves and when fitted incorrectly

introduce further risk due to providing a false sense of security. For this reason, all harnesses must be checked by a qualified leader to ensure they are fitted correctly prior to leaving the ground and being exposed to a potential fall.

4.15 Helmets – Climbing helmets are designed to withstand impact from above by falling rock and equipment NOT the head impacting on the ground from a falling climber. As such, it is the responsibility of the owner/operator to deem if a climbing helmet is necessary in accordance with their risk assessments. The general rule however is as follows: in natural rock venues, use a Helmet; in bottom rope artificial venues a helmet is optional; in top rope/abseil artificial venues, use a Helmet. If in doubt, use a Helmet.

4.16 Rope – There are many different types of rope. The operator and leader must have a sound knowledge of specifically designed climbing rope, including the different types and applications. In order for the operator or leader to fully understand the applications or different climbing ropes they must also fully understand fall factors. Climbing rope comes in different diameters and specifications but the basics are dynamic, semi static and static. The operator must consult the manufacturer’s manual to ascertain its intended use. Rope not intended for climbing is made with different materials and has different specifications. Rope that isn’t designed specifically for the use of climbing and abseiling activities must NEVER be used for this purpose. A safe working load of 25KN (2.5 tons) and CE approval is the internationally recognised standard for climbing rope.

4.17 Hardware (karabiners, belay devices etc.) – There is a wide range of climbing aids and devices and the operator and instructor must have a complete and sound knowledge of their applications including which devices are necessary to operate climbing and abseiling activities safely. These devices are also a “link” in the safety chain. As per all other climbing equipment items a safe working load of 25KN (2.5 tons) and CE approval is the internationally recognised standard for climbing hardware and devices.

4.18 All equipment is subject to wear and tear and must be checked before every use. Incorrect storage, use and monitoring of rated and approved equipment is usually the cause of equipment failure. Operators and leaders must have a sound knowledge of this and have systems in place in order to control and manage their equipment. Details of how to do this is included in the Indian Climbing Leader Award.

INSPECTION AND MAINTENANCE PROCEDURES

i. Inspections and maintenance require a sound knowledge of the systems and equipment themselves and therefore must be carried out by qualified persons as a minimum the inspector must be qualified to be a guide/instructor. Basic inspections must be carried out before every use with complete and detailed inspections carried out on a regular basis in accordance with their operations procedures and risk assessments. Log book for specific equipment detailing their use, date of purchase and limit to discard must be maintained.

ii. Equipment specifically designed for the activity should be used such as proper climbing helmets and not rafting / cycling helmets.

SOP’S AND OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS

4.19 Such is the nature of climbing and abseiling that the systems required at each individual venue will differ. The following is the minimum requirements and standards that apply to all climbing and abseiling activities within the remit of this minimum standard.

4.20 The safety chain

a) The Anchor – Is permanent and been fitted with the intention to be used for this particular activity. Has been tested to withstand a minimum of 10KN (1 ton). Does not show any signs of damage or deformity.

b) The rope – Is a climbing rope that has been made by an approved manufacture. It is the correct type of rope for this particular activity. It does not show any signs of damage or deformity i.e. excessive “fluffing”, cuts, rips or tears, thin bits, fat bits etc. Is correctly secured to the anchor.

c) The karabiners and slings – Equipment is for its intended use only. There are no signs of damage, deformity or wear and tear. Are correctly secured.

d) The knots – Are the correct knots. Have been double-checked before exposing anyone to a potential fall.

e) The harness – There are no signs of damage, deformity or wear and tear. Is correctly fitted.

f) The alert belayer – Has the belay device fitted correctly. The belayer knows how to use the device. The belayer alert, paying attention to the climber and performing the correct 5 point belaying technique.

4.21  During all following applications and systems, and in line with the exception of this minimum standard, neither instructor or participant should ever be subject to potential fall greater than a fall factor of 1.

4.22  Bottom rope system

a) The weight of the climber and belayer should be calculated to judge if a ground anchor for the belayer is necessary.

b) The appropriate belay system for the venue/group should be utilized.

c) It is preferable that the belay device be locked off under load allowing the instructor to escape from the system – applicable to customer/group belaying and ground anchor belay systems.

4.23 Top rope system

a) The instructor must always be attached via an independent safety line that allows him/her to escape from the system whilst the climbing rope is under load.

b) The instructor must be able to lock off the belay devise under load.

4.24 Group abseil (releasable abseil) system

a) The abseil rope, safety rope and instructor safety line must be attached to individual anchor points.

b) The abseil rope must be a redundant system that is releasable under load enabling it to be discarded if necessary.

c) The instructor must be able to lock off the safety rope whilst under load.

4.25 Participants

a) Age is not a factor but a participant must be of suitable size in order to be fitted safely into their harness. Chest harnesses are to be used where necessary.

b) Participants must be aware of the risks involved and in turn must listen and adhere to the instructions of their instructor.

c) Specific health concerns must be considered before participating.

4.26  The venue

a) All venues under the purview of this minimum standard must remain within the definition of single pitch.

b) Artificial structures must be designed and certified to withstand the forces involved and include a safety factor of 3 on all safety critical components.

c) Anchor points on both artificial and natural venues must be accessible without the need for lead climbing or leader placed protection. Failing this, they must be rigged, checked and accessed by suitably trained and experienced instructors.

4.27 Documentation

a) Associated equipment purchase documentation, including warranty, service & maintenance history documentation.

b) Documented installation/structure checks.

c) Log book of instructor training and qualifications.

d) Valid first aid certificate.

4.28 Risk mitigation

a) A basic risk assessment of the venue is required before use.

b) Emergency/evacuation procedures must be formulated, in which all leaders are trained.

Emergencies and rescues

4.29 If the above systems are adhered to, climbing and abseiling rescues are simple and safe, the details of which are covered in the Indian Climbing Leader Award. In addition;

a) A first aid kit must be available on site

b) Evacuation routes must be easily accessible as per the definition of single pitch.

c) A detailed and documented evacuation/emergency procedure must be written which includes the contact numbers of the closest available emergency services which can be called upon as required