Lead Climbing

Lead Climbing

Lead climbing differs from top rope climbing in that rather than already having an anchor and rope rigged at the top of a climb, the climber ties in and takes the rope up the wall, clipping into anchors (quickdraws) along the way.

Like top rope climbing, lead also requires a belayer to control the rope system and keep the climber safe. However, top rope and lead belaying are somewhat opposites in that top rope belaying focuses almost exclusively on taking in slack, while lead belayers must alternate between taking in and feeding out slack to maintain a safe system throughout the climb.

Lead climbers and belayers must pass our compulsory lead test in order to lead climb/belay at CityROCK.

Upon completion of the test, you will complete our lead climbing waiver and receive a lead belay tag which must be displayed on your harness at all times

Lead Course

If you want to learn to lead, we’ve got you covered with a CityROCK Lead Course!

We’ll teach you everything you need to know to safely lead climb & belay and pass our lead test with flying colours – all you need to do is grab a course buddy and your lead gear, and make your booking at the button below!

Please note that to do the Lead Course you must be 16 years or older, have a CityROCK top rope belay tag, and have a climbing partner and your own lead gear (rope & assisted-braking belay device).

Assisted Braking Devices permitted at CityROCK

Safety always comes first at CityROCK, and we do all we can to keep your climbing incident-free! In line with this, we are officially prohibiting the use of non-assisted-braking belay devices in the gym as of 1 June 2023 ⏰

This means all of our lead climbing customers will need to use assisted-braking devices (ABD) for belaying, rather than tube-style devices like ATCs. Assisted-braking devices help significantly in preventing belaying accidents, which is why ABD-only policies are becoming the standard in gyms around the world.

To help ease the transition, we have an assortment of ABDs available for use during your session (you can grab one from the front desk in exchange for your keys/ID/driver’s licence etc.)

Safety Check for Climber and Belayer

Below is the checklist that you will be tested on:

  1. Harness fits correctly and above hips.
  2. Waist belt and leg loops fitted snugly and double backed if applicable.
  3. Harness not twisted.
  4. Carabiner attached to belay loop.
  5. Carabiner locked – squeeze test.
  6. Assisted-braking belay device attached to carabiner.
  7. Correctly tie a double figure eight through the correct tie-in points.
  8. Stopper knot tied at end of figure eight.
  9. Knot tied close to harness.
  10. Buddy check.
  11. Clear communication before climbing.

Lead Belayer

  • Proper spotting climber at start of climb.
  • Keep slack in belay system to a minimum. Rope must never touch the ground.
  • Safe and controlled giving or taking of slack.
  • Not ever letting go of the brake end of rope during belaying.
  • Instant lock off on fall.
  • Belayer positioned close to the climbing wall.
  • Slow and controlled lowering of climber.
  • Constant visual communication between belayer and climber -stay focused.

Lead Climber

  • Safe clipping between hip and head – avoid high clips.
  • Smooth, controlled clipping of quick draws.
  • Clip every quick draw – no skipping.
  • No back clipping.
  • No Z-Clipping.
  • Take a lead fall.
  • Clipping of both top anchor carabiners with gates opposed.

Purple Tag: Kids’ Lead Climbing and Belay

This tag indicates that a child under the age of 16 has passed the lead test. Children with this tag may lead belay one another in the low climbing area under parent supervision, or on the high walls under one of our certified coaches’ supervision, provided that both children have purple tags, are roughly the same weight, and a sandbag is used at all times. Children with this tag are also allowed to lead climb on the high walls, when belayed by an adult with a green tag. In order to be tested for this tag, the child must either:

a) have completed one of our CityROCK kids courses
b) been trained one-on-one by one of our coaches

Lead climbing waiver: On passing the Lead Test, this needs to be signed by all climbers wanting to lead on the high walls.