Invitation to SG Climbing Instructors Community of Practice (COP) #3 : “The Dilemma of Incidents”

Hi everyone,


I’m happy to share that the next Sport Climbing Instructors’ COP will tentatively happen in Jan 2018. For the third edition, I am happy to have the following instructors stepping forward to help put this COP together:

Fish, Joe, Ai Chin, Delson, Zedong and Mr. Hee. We had a delightful meet up recently to kickstart the planning and here are the tentative details,


Date : 20 Jan 2018 (Sat)

Time : Evening (6.30pm – 9.30pm)

Venue : TBC

Theme : “The Dilemma of Incidents”


In light of the few accidents that the team has come to hear about in the climbing community, we would like to focus the COP around the theme of safety and risk management. This COP will address topics like risk management, processes, crisis management etc. to better equip instructors with information to manage incidences in your climbing programmes. This is not going to be one of those run-of-the-mill first aid courses but instead we would like to look at the before and after of an incident so that we can better prepare instructors for it.


The blank sheet of paper for COP #3 now has some stuff scribbled on it but it is not inked down yet. If you have any ideas or you think you would like to contribute something for this COP, please feel free to contact us so that we do not miss out on what you can bring to the table. In the meantime, mark the date in your calendars and I will update as more details firm up.


Peaceful Vibes!


PS : If you would like to receive further updates on this event, please join our contact list at , or you can join our event page on FB with the attached QR code.COP3QR


SNCS Level 3 Verification for Instructors

I will be conducting a SNCS Level 3 verification soon. In preparation for the course, we circulated the most updated verification syllabus amongst the instructors. Here’s a copy of it in case anyone of you need to get hold of it.

Level3instructor Verification Sheet_2014Jan

For those who want to take the verification, please note that it is a “peer” verification and not an assessment per se. So please do not treat us like assessors. We are just here like a neutral to make sure that you met the timings and all the standards before you go about conducting your courses.

Also, one thing to note is that the verifying instructor is not there to teach you how to do a counter balance abseil or how to pass a knot. The assumption here is that an instructor who wants to teach Level 3 should already have the competency to go research or figure out how the skill sets should be done. So personally for me, i am happy to share on another occasion, but not when i am a verifier.

Note also that there are many different methods to perform the two drills so there is no standard way of doing things. As long as it’s safe and you are able to achieve the objectives then we will likely sign off your forms. But please. Do not take the easy way out. I have seen instructors using brute force to transfer the victim’s weight. A day will come when you have such a heavy participant that you cannot move him physically, then you will wish you understood how to transfer the load properly. I guess the whole idea is to make sure that you can take care of your participants safely. So please don’t try to go around the system.

There. That should be all for the SNCS Syllabus. Now i wonder if the other volunteer-run webpage is updated already or not…. Maybe can just link to my webpage lah… At least instructors can still get their info.

SNCS Syllabus for you.

I dunno leh…. Upload one and a half pages of documents got so difficult meh? Here are the SNCS Syllabus if you can’t get them from the SMF Website. Including my copy of the SNCS Level 3 syllabus.

I don’t even know when they are “CAA” from, all i know is i downloaded the Level 1, 2 and ASC (DO WE EVEN STILL CONDUCT THIS COURSE???) from the SMF Website and the SNCS Level 3 syllabus was the one sent to me from other SMF Instructors when i asked for it.

Again this is for sharing, go make your own conclusions from how long it takes for someone to update a webpage, especially the things that the whole world needs…. ’nuff said.

Sports Climbing Level 1
Course Code: SCCL1

Course Duration: 7 hours or 2 sessions of 3.5 hours

Prerequisite: At least 13 years of age


The purpose of this course is to give participants an enjoyable, safe and informative introduction to sport climbing. The course is designed for people with no prior knowledge of sport climbing. Participants will be introduced to: equipment, climbing techniques, checking procedures, belaying for top-roping and climbing calls.

Passing Standards

Trainees must demonstrate the following course requirements :

1. Correct harness usage

2. Correct tie-in technique using the figure-of-8 knot

3. Correct belay technique using a friction device

4. Correct use of climbing calls

5. Perform pre-climb checks


SNCS Sport Climbing Level One Certificate


1.     Introduction to the Sport of Climbing

·      Development of climbing in Singapore

·      Concept of climbing

·      Sport climbing /Traditional climbing;

·      Lead / Top-rope;

·      Bouldering

2.     Introduction of Climbing Equipment (usage, care, limitation)

·      Ropes (Dynamic & Static)

·      Harness

·      Karabiner

·      Friction devices – (Fig.8 and Tubular)

·      Climbing shoes

·      Helmet

·      Chalk (drying agent)

·      Others – Quickdraws (Runners), Sling/Tape

3.     Tie-in Knot (usage, limitation, dressing)

·      Figure of Eight thread-through

4.     Belaying Technique (5 steps belay) using friction devices

·      Belaying a climber

·      Lowering a climber

·      Belaying stance

·      Arresting a climber’s fall

·      Rope handling & management

5.     Basic Climbing Technique

·      Use of handholds – pinch, grip, underhand, side pull, sloper, pocket

·      Use of footholds – edging, smearing

·      Basic wall configuration – corners, overhangs, slabs, roof

6.     Top-rope Climbing

·      Pre-climb checks

·      Climbing commands

·      Spotting

·      Safety considerations – pendulums, falling on other people, rope placement, buddy check

7.     Course Review

·      Suggestions for further advancement

·      General discussion and feedback

Instructor Qualification

Sport Climbing Instructor Category 1 / 2

Instructor To Trainee Ratio

1 Instructor : 10 Trainees, OR

1 Instructor + 1 Climbing Assistant (or Trainee Instructor) : 16 Trainees

Sports Climbing Level 2
Course Code: SCCL2

Course Duration: 14 hours or 2 sessions of 7 hours

Prerequisite: At least 13 years of age, Sport Climbing Course Level One certified


This course is designed as a follow on from the Sport Climbing Course Level 1. This course builds on the top-rope skills acquired from Level One and teaches a progression into lead climbing on artificial climbing walls. Participants on this course should be confident in all the techniques covered at Level One before undertaking this more advanced level course.


Passing Standards

Trainees must demonstrate the following course requirements :

1. Confident with lead climbing on an easy route

2. Correct placement of protection points on a lead climb

3. Correct belaying of a lead climber using a friction device

4. Correct top-out technique on fixed anchor

5. Conduct proper pre-climb checks

6. Correct use of climbing calls

7. Safe equipment handling


SNCS Sport Climbing Level Two Certificate


1.     Introduction to Lead Climbing

·      Top-rope Climbing vs Lead Climbing

·      Placement of protection points

·      Understanding Fall Factor and Impact Force

·      Understanding the anchor system on artificial wall

2.     Equipment Required for Lead Climbing (usage, care, limitation)

·      Dynamic rope vs Static rope

·      Harness with gear loops

·      Quickdraws (Runners)

·      Slings / Tapes (safety slings, extension as Runners)

·      Friction devices – (Fig.8, Tubular)

·      Helmet

3.     Knots (usage, limitation, dressing)

·      Double Figure of 8 knot

·      Tape knot

4.     Belaying a Lead Climber using friction devices

·      Giving slack & taking-in

·      Belaying stance

·      Arresting a climber’s fall

·      Dynamic Belaying

·      Rope handling & management

5.     Lead Climbing & Techniques

·      Pre-climb checks

·      Clipping in techniques / prevention & undo “Z” clips

·      Runners’ placement/direction

·      Climbing on overhangs & roofs

·      Safe falling position

·      Climbing commands

·      Safety considerations – hand & foot placement to avoid nasty rope burns, skipping runners, falling on a lead, buddy check

6.     Top-out Technique

7.     Course Review

·      Suggestions for further advancement

·      General discussion and feedback

Instructor Qualification

Sport Climbing Instructor Category 1 / 2

Instructor To Trainee Ratio

1 Instructor : 10 Trainees, OR

1 Instructor + 1 Climbing Assistant (or Trainee Instructor) : 16 Trainees


Wearing of helmet is compulsory when engaging in a lead climbing session

Activity Supervisor Course (Sport Climbing)
Course Code: ASC

Course Duration: 21 hours or 3 sessions of 7 hours

Prerequisite: At least 18 years of age, Sport Climbing Course Level Two certified. Must be confident to lead a 5.7/5b route on an artificial climbing wall.


This is a course designed for teachers, physical training instructors, people in-charge of climbing gyms and anyone required to supervising group climbing activities on artificial climbing walls. The course equips participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely supervise top-rope climbing, lead climbing and bouldering sessions. The course emphasizes on safety and organization. The course does not qualify participants to conduct formal climbing certification courses.

Passing Standards

Participants must demonstrate the following course requirements :

1. Correct use of and the ability to discern any incorrect use of climbing equipment

2. Have knowledge on safety practices in supervising:

– Top-rope & lead climbing session including belayers;

– Bouldering session with spotters and crash mats

3. Have knowledge on managing groups, organizational and communication skills

4. Understanding of risks associated with climbing and have knowledge on strategy to minimize risks

5. Ability to set up anchor system for top-rope climbing

6. Have knowledge on wall maintenance and route setting

7. Safe equipment handling



Activity Supervisor Certificate valid for 3yrs; to be accompanied with a valid first aid (sic)


1.     Roles and Responsibilities of a Supervisor

2.     Revision of skills and knowledge on

·      Equipment (usage, care, maintenance, check)

·      Knots (Figure of 8: thread-through, double-bight)

·      Belaying technique (top-rope, lead)

·      Bouldering and Spotting

3.     Setting up activities for

·      Top-rope & Lead climbing

·      Bouldering

4.     Planning a session (top-rope, lead, boulder)

·      Objective of activities

·      Profile of participants

·      Site & equipment inspection

·      Level of challenges (structures, routes)

1.     (sic)Managing a session (top-rope, lead, boulder)

·      Group management (procedures, rules, processes, ratio)

·      Facilitating experiences (teaching methods, communication)

2.     Risk Analysis and Management

·      Understanding & Identifying Risks

·      Strategies to minimize risks

·      Risk assessment & management plan

·      Protocol, Guidelines, Wall Maintenance

3.     Discussion on

·      Common mistakes and incidents in climbing

·      Supervision of climbing, belayers

·      Route setting

4.     Theory Assessment

Instructor Qualification

Sport Climbing Instructor Category 2

Instructor To Trainee Ratio

1 Instructor : 8 Trainees, OR

1 Instructor + 1 Climbing Assistant (or Trainee Instructor) : 12 Trainees


Wearing of helmet is compulsory when engaging in a lead climbing session

Sport Climbing Course Level Three
Course Code


Course Duration

14hrs or 2 sessions of 7 hrs


 At least be 16yrs of age

 Sport Climbing Course Level Two certificate or equivalent; and Abseil Proficiency Course Level One certificate or equivalent*

*This course builds on the basic skills learned in these courses. Hence, trainees should be familiar and confident with these basic skills before undertaking this course.

Objective (s)

This course introduces the techniques of climbing bolted multi-pitch routes safely.

Passing Standards

Trainees must demonstrate the following course requirements :

1. Setup anchor system for multi-pitch climb

2. Belaying a climber, using both direct (from anchor) & redirect belay system

3. Lead climb and then abseil with backup

4. Ascending on ropes

5. Conduct proper pre-climb checks

6. Use of climbing calls throughout the climb

7. Handle equipment safely


SNCS Sport Climbing Level Three Certificate


1. Introduction to multi-pitch climbs

·      Compare man-made climbing walls with natural rock crags

·      Recognise common types of protection points used in climbing

·      Describe the concept of multi-pitch climbing

2. Introduction of Equipment for Multi-Pitch Climb

·      Revisit the use of quick-draws and dynamic ropes

·      Recognise the uses of single, half and twin ropes

·      Describe the uses of accessory cords of various diameters which include prusik knots and anchoring; and their limitations

·      Describe the uses of slings (sewn slings and tapes) which include safety slings, runners and anchoring; and their limitations

·      Recognise the range of descending/belay devices:

–       Circular descending devices (e.g. Figure-of-8, Harpoon)

–       Planular descending devices (e.g. Sticht Plate)

–       Tubular descending devices (e.g. ATC)

–       In-Line adjustable devices (e.g. Rack)

–       Auto-locking descending devices (e.g. Gri Gri, Cinch, Stop)

3. Knots & Hitches

·      Demonstrate and describe the uses and limitations of knots:

–       Double Figure of 8 knot on the bight

–       Prusik knots (Classic, Klemheist, French)

–       Overhand knot

–       Clove Hitch

–       Munter Hitch

4. Anchor System

·      Apply criteria for assessing sound anchoring systems, using EARNEST

·      Demonstrate setting up of static (isolated) and self-equalizing anchoring systems

·      Recognise setting up of anchoring system using various equipment such as ropes, slings and accessory cords.

5. Multi-Pitch Climb

·      Apply criteria for assessing sound anchoring systems using EARNEST@

·      Demonstrate setting up of static (isolated) and self-equalizing anchoring systems

·      Recognise setting up of anchoring system using various equipment such as ropes, slings and accessory cords

6. Abseiling and ascending

·      Demonstrate abseil with auto-block backup

·      Demonstrate ascending on fixed rope using prusik knots

·      Demonstrate counter-balance abseil in a single pitch

·      Demonstrate stack abseil in a single pitch

7. Understanding risk involving multi-pitch climbing

·       Recognise the hazards common to multi-pitch climbing

·       Describe the corresponding actions to avoid common hazards

·      Apply risk assessment and management framework of PEEP and 4Ts (Tolerate, Terminate, Treat, and Transfer) to address on-going risks

Instructor to Trainee Ratio

2 Instructors: 8 participants or 1 Instructor: 4 participants.


Wearing of helmet is recommended when engaging in a lead climbing session

Will find some time to look for the APC syllabus another day. It’s somewhere and i have my own copy somewhere also. So if you need a copy of the syllabus, please feel free to take.

SMF, are you doing your job?

The one about the heavier climber…

Belaying an XL – Tips for Lightweight Climbers

Source: Belaying an XL – Tips for Lightweight Climbers 

One of the top questions new participants regularly ask me is this, “What if my bf/gf (Heaven forbid…) / partner / husband / wife (..again…) / friend / brother / sister (insert other names) is heavier than me? Can i belay him/her?”

My answer is usually Yes because there is no official guideline around the world now that states what is the “safe” weight difference. At most, they would usually give a “recommendation”. Hence there is nothing really stopping you from belaying your XXL sized climber. But come on, let’s face it, no one wants to fall and be lowered down half the wall because of a light belayer who himself/herself gets pulled halfway up the wall as well until the both of you can literally shake hands…. So this article is really quite useful to share what are some of the alternatives or tricks in the belayer’s bags that can be used at the right moment.

I usually teach about the the sandbags that you can get at most gyms as counterweights for the especially light belayers and i use the opportunity to teach them about the “assistant belayer” as well who helps back up the brake line and doubles up as an anchor man as well.

But there are other options as well. Something new on the market is the Elderid Ohm that is covered in the article. Cool piece of kit that can be purchased and it gives the belayer as well as the climber lots of confidence. But it costs a lot and it’s an additional piece of kit that the lead climber has to carry. Takes some training and familiarisation to get it right also. So those are the things i try to share with the participants.

Then there is the physics lesson that i will deliver. Basically the idea is simple. I ask the participants to share (for those who have been belaying a heavier climber so far) on their experiences. “When the heavy climber falls, where do you get pulled? Do you fly upwards vertically like a cartoon superman? Or do you get slammed into the wall horizontally?”

Most of the time the answer will be horizontally. I will then invoke their memories of those secondary school physics lessons and i say a silent thank you to my physics tutors for teaching me something i never thought i would ever have to use….angle

So basically, when a climber falls, he generates an Impact Force vertically downwards. He will also pull on the rope attached to the belayer which creates another force diagonally upwards towards the anchors. All these forces added together creates a resultant force which is the horizontal force that the belayer feels pulling him/her towards the wall every time a heavier climber falls on belay.

Now my Physics tutor also taught me one more thing, and that is the greater the angle is from the climber’s end of the rope to the belayer’s end of the rope, the larger the resultant force will be. Hence i will then follow up with a question, to keep things interactive with the class,

“So knowing that the angle at the top determines the force the belayer feels, when you are belaying a heavier climber, should you stand nearer or further away from the wall?”

The answer will usually be a unanimous “nearer”! I would then encourage my participants to try it out in their next practice where they should stand when they belay. In this way, they get to experience the effects of positioning rather than just listen to theory.

One thing to note, make sure they do not over do it like standing >5m away from the walls and if the floors are slippery have them remove their socks. It’s an interactive way to learn but we got to take care of safety as well.

So there you go, some ways to answer the inevitable question. Just try not to look at the bigger sized participants in the eyes every time you say “fat”…

If you ever need a reason to wear a helmet…


One of my climbing students climbing in Nam Pha Pha Yai was belaying at a relatively new route when this sharp chunk of rock fell onto his head. Can’t imagine what would have been the result if he had neglected to wear his helmet that day. Think you should only wear your helmet when climbing? Think again.

A good reminder to always bring your brain bucket along and use it.

Good picture to use to reinforce this point in class. Full post here:

The one about clearing my FB backlog…

Just a couple of sites i have been saving on FB for the longest time but never got around to sharing them. Great for teaching resources.

    A very useful article on using re-directions when we teach Level 2. I think this is one thing that is hard to recreate at the gyms because most of the routes simply go straight up and there’s very little chance for a redirection. So the climbers don’t really see the use of learning this. And rem, when you dun use it, you lose it. So sometimes i have to deliberately build in this practice by getting them to climb diagonally so that they will have a chance to practice considering the direction of their quickdraws.
    You know those autobelays you see emerging at climbing gyms. Ever wondered how they work? Here’s a good article about magnetic braking which some of the devices make use of. Good to know so that you will understand the limitations of the device.
    ABD’s are all the rage now. Here’s a good review on the different devices so that you can further advise your L2 climbers when they ask you which device is more suitable for them. I always tell them to get something that they feel comfortable and familiar with rather than the cheapest one on sale…
    This is more for those teaching Level 3. More different techniques you can consider to add to your arsenal of tricks. Can be a bit complicated but if you break it down and consider the intent of each step, it becomes easier to commit to your memory.
    Bolting. For the one or two curious climbers who want to know more about how climbers actually bolt routes on natural rocks. Good to know because it’s a fascinating topic for new climbers especially for those who don’t get outdoors much.

So there you go, some resources i hope you will find useful in your classes.

The one about the Unbelayable ending…

One of my fav columns in Climbing Magazine is ending. I love what the author Kevin Corrigan says at the end.

“You can know every skill in the book, but if you’re mindlessly going through the motions or filling your days with “It’ll probably be fines,” then you’re leaving yourself open to the chance that it might not be fine. Climbing responsibly is a choice, one you must make every step along the way.”

I was just thinking of printing out past editions of this almanac of stoopid climbing mistakes and passing it around during Level 2 or 3 classes. The more experienced participants would probably guffaw at them but for those few who do not get what is wrong, i will start to be worried. Can be used as potential case studies for discussions. Hmmph just a thought at the moment, will need some time to operationalise it. What were your unbelayable moments?