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					     Sydney University Rockclimbing & Mountaineering Club
                                       Levels Training System
                                      Andrew Jacob, 14/05/2002

The Sydney University Rockclimbing & Mountaineering Club has grown rapidly in recent years. This is
due both to the general surge of interest in climbing and to the presence of The Ledge on campus. Free and
discounted climbing for Club members on Wednesday evenings has contributed significantly.

This has caused difficulties in training new Club members and in making decisions about whom to lend gear
to. Previously training was done on a one-to-one basis with few people involved. Everyone was able to
know who was a beginner, who could borrow the lead racks, who needed training in belay set-ups, etc. This
is no longer possible.

There has been concern about the liability issues involved in training Members. In fact this is not a problem.
Christine Cummings, the Insurance Manager of the University’s Risk Management Office, stated in Feb
2000, “…the Mountaineering Club being a registered club of the University of Sydney is covered by the
University’s liability coverage. The non-accreditation of…instructors does not affect the liability coverage.”
She did, however, recommend that we introduce a system to determine who is able to instruct other Club
members. In 2000 the University’s insurance coverage for liability issues was $10M.

Climbing is recognized to be a dangerous activity. There are often several acceptable ways to do things
safely but also many ways in which things can go wrong. Organizations and experienced individuals may
have different opinions on methods, equipment and concepts of safe practice. These may change over time.

The Levels system attempts to address the situation the Club now finds itself in.
This Levels system aims to provide:
 A program by which Club members gain and improve climbing skills
 A consistent way to measure Club members abilities
 Criteria to determine who may borrow what gear
 Criteria to determine who can instruct others
 Continuity in the Club’s skills base
 Some peace of mind regarding the liability issue for those instructing and lending out gear

The system should be simple, easily administered and be self-perpetuating.

The Levels system is to be administered by a Levels sub-committee chosen by the Club Committee. All
decisions determining a Member’s level are to be made by the Levels sub-committee. All decisions
regarding a Member’s ability to assess or instruct others are to be made by the Levels sub-committee.

A Member at one level will usually be learning the skills of a higher level under the supervision of a higher
level Member. They will be consolidating the skills of their own level. They may teach the skills of a lower
level, if approved to do so by the Levels sub-committee. However, they must recognize the responsibility
they hold and not teach skills they are not competent to teach.

The final decision to upgrade a Member’s level depends on the sub-committee being satisfied that the
Member can competently comply with all the requirements of their present level. Instruction and assessment
of individual skill components may be done by Members approved to do so by the sub-committee. The
Levels sub-committee should consult these Members when making a decision to upgrade another Member’s

Some Caveats:

This Levels system does not dictate a comprehensive set of skills to be learned in succession and simply
“checked-off”, whereupon the Member miraculously becomes safe, competent and skilled. It can never be
100% complete. A system claiming to be complete promotes a dangerous impression that the Member then
knows all there is to know. A comprehensive set of skills would be difficult to define, too extensive,
possibly overly restrictive and impractical (i.e. it may simply be ignored if it is too complex).

This Levels system does provide a set of minimum skills, abilities and attitudes. Members must recognize
that additional self-study, self-training and regular practice is necessary.

The Levels system needs to recognize the assumption of personal responsibility that climbing requires and
the independent, often anti-authoritarian nature of climbers.

Club members must recognize and accept the inherent danger involved in the Club’s activities.

The inherent danger involved in climbing tends to naturally limit those activities that any reasonable person
will attempt.
To ensure the Levels system functions correctly the Club should:
        1/ Run Beginners Days
        2/ Run Intermediate Days
        3/ Run Learn-to-Lead Days
        4/ Maintain a database of the Level attained by all Members
        5/ Maintain a list of all Members approved to instruct and assess others
        6/ Make available suitable gear to support each Level
        7/ Encourage Members to participate fully in the system
        8/ Provide resources for Members to consolidate their skills
        9/ Engage a Professional Instructor to teach Club instructors, if necessary
        10/ Review the system regularly

To ensure the Levels system functions correctly Club members should:
         1/ Attend Beginners Days, Intermediate Days and Learn-to-Lead Days when appropriate
         2/ Recognise & accept the inherent dangers involved in the Club’s activities
         3/ Recognise that the system is not 100% complete and never can be
         4/ Where possible (i.e. as you learn new skills) accept responsibility for your own safety
         5/ Consolidate your skills through self-study, self-training and regular practice
         6/ Be proactive in your involvement with the Club, e.g. in finding a mentor to learn from, helping
out on or organising Club activities, etc.
The Levels
Each Level includes Specific Skills, General Skills, Attitudes, Type of gear that may be borrowed for
unsupervised use, What and who may be taught.

Skills for Level 1 can be learnt at the Ledge, on a Beginners Day and on further Club trips.
Skills for Level 2 can be learnt at the Ledge, on an Intermediate Day & a Learn-to-Lead Day and on further
Club trips.
Skills for Level 3 can be learnt on a one-to-one basis from an approved Level 4 member.

All requirements refer to outdoor, not indoor or gym, climbing.

Level 0: Novice
 New Members. No climbing skills or climbing ability is unknown.
 All members are assumed to be at Level 0 until they can show they hold the skills of a higher level

Level 1: Belayer/Abseiler/Seconder (Single Pitch)
   Correctly put on harness and attach to rope for climbing or abseiling
   Competently and correctly belay with various devices
   Competently and correctly abseil with various devices
   Correctly tie: single, double and retied figure-of-eight; tape knot; clove hitch
   Know basic calls for belaying and abseiling
   Competently and correctly second a lead climber on single pitch climbs
   Demonstrate care and proper handling of equipment
   Club members are encouraged to maintain a trip log to record their progress
   Have a basic understanding of the dangers involved in belaying and abseiling
   Demonstrate a safety conscious attitude to climbing activities
   Understand your own climbing abilities and limitations
   May teach Level 1 skills to Level 0 Members, if approved
   May borrow Harness, Helmet, belay device and karabiners

Level 1s: Multi-pitch supplement
The above requirements are sufficient for single-pitch climbing. The following skills are required before
belaying and seconding on multi-pitch climbs.
 Knowledge of ascending (prusiking or equivalent)
 Competently and correctly second a lead climber on multi pitch climbs

Level 2: Top Roper/Sport Leader
   Attain skills to Level 1
   Hold a current Senior first-aid certificate
   Competently and correctly set up an abseil
   Competently and correctly set up a top-rope belay
   Competently and correctly thread the rings at the top of a sport climb
   Knowledge of anchors, bolts, clipping, climbing technique, calls, care of gear, etc as taught on
    Intermediate and Learn-to-Lead training days
   Club members are encouraged to maintain a trip log
   Understand your own climbing abilities and limitations
   Assist in running 3 Club trips at Level 1
   May teach Level 2 or 1 skills, if approved
   May borrow Level 1 gear plus top-rope kit and sport rack
Level 3: Basic Trad Leader
   Attain skills to level 2
   Competently and correctly place natural gear on lead on moderately graded climbs
   Competently and correctly set up bottom, mid and top belay stations
   Knowledge of self rescue and pulley systems
   Club members are encouraged to maintain a trip log
   Assist in running 3 Club trips at Level 2 or Level 1
   Understand your own climbing abilities and limitations
   May teach Level 3, 2 or 1 skills, if approved
   May borrow Level 2 gear plus lead racks

Level 4+: Self Training
 The Club expects its members to continue to consolidate, improve and broaden their skills
 May teach any skills, if approved
 May borrow any gear

Level Alpine:
 Mountaineering, ice climbing, glacier travel, etc skills
 This Level is separate from the above four Levels. At present (April 2002) the number of mountaineers
  in the club is still small and easily managed. However the numbers are increasing. It may be necessary to
  expand and improve this Level in the future.
 This Level will most likely be achieved by completing an Alpine course (outside the Club) with a
  Professional Instructor.
 It is likely, and probably advisable, that Level 3 skills above be attained before this Level.
 Level Alpine climbers may teach basic mountaineering skills on the Clubs winter Blue Lake trips, if
Levels Resources
A separate document, not yet completed, contains the following resources to help ensure the Levels system
1/       Gear and Facilities
2/       Web sites
3/       Books (Instruction and Guides), Videos
4/       Magazines
5/       Specific Magazine Articles/Series
6/       Some Recommended Climbing Areas and Climbs for each Level
7/       Specific Skills to teach on Beginners Days
8/       Specific Skills to teach on Intermediate Days
9/       Specific Skills to teach on Learn-to-Lead Days
10/      Skills List for Level 1
11/      Summary Sheet for Level 1 (incl. Skills List for L2)
12/      Summary Sheet for Level 2 (incl. Skills List for L3)
13/      Summary Sheet for Level 3
14/      A Trip List Template

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