So... Your troop wants to go Rock Climbing?!?!?!

Four Levels of Troop Rock Climbing Activities:

We've found that Boy Scout Troops progress through four levels of rockclimbing activities, each building on previous experiences:

  1. Basic Introductory Rock Climbing Trip(s)
  2. Climbing Merit Badge
  3. Advanced Climbing Trips
  4. Advanced Climbing Topics

Basic Introductory Trip:

The first activity for any troop should be an introductory rock climb to any of the local gyms. There are a certain set of activities that should occur before for this trip is undertaken:

  • arrange a date to climb at a local gym (get price & copy of gym's permission slip)
  • secure competant teaching for the boys BEFORE the trip
  • secure Leader (who's had BS "Climb On Safely" training)

    Once these activities have been accomplished, there is a set number of activities that have to occur prior to the trip:

    1. T-3 weeks prior to the trip:
      • Write and pass out permission slip(s) to the boys. There is a sample permission slip at the bottom of this presentation.
      • Insure all boys have up-to-date medical forms

    2. T-2 weeks prior to the trip:
      • Collect permission slips, arrange drivers, and file Tour Permit
      • Demonstrate equipment (shoes, harness, belay device, rope)
      • Teach the figure-eight follow-thru
      • Teach belaying, have each boy try it at least twice

    3. T-1 weeks prior to the trip:
      • Teach the calls
      • Have each boy belay at least twice more
      • Have each boy demonstrate figure-eight follow-thru

    4. At the gym:
      • Have each boy belay a dead weight, until comfortable
      • Have each boy belay a person, until comfortable
      • Have each boy pass the belay test


    Climbing Merit Badge:

    The following are the Climbing Merit Badge requirements taken from: The topics have been rearranged for optimal teaching over two meetings prior to a rock climbing trip, where the belaying/climbing/rappelling may be demonstrated by the boys. Like the "Basic Introductory Trip", The troop should:

    • secure competent teacher(s)
    • arrange a trip (NOTE: This may coincide with a "Basic Trip").
    • schedule two (2) meetings prior to the trip to cover the requirements.
    • a spreadsheet is VERY USEFUL showing:
      • participants in the first column
      • requirements in the first row
      • date completed in the intersecting cells
    • write & copy handouts for the boys. Our three(3) double-sided pages include:
      1. Merit Badge requirements
      2. Diagrams of required knots
      3. Belaying & belay devices
      4. Calls
      5. Grading systems
      6. Rope coiling/care/storage

    The following requirements are completed in the prerequisite First Aid Merit Badge:

    • 1. Show that you know first aid for injuries or illnesses that may occur during climbing activities, including hypothermia, blisters, sprains, snakebite, abrasions, fractures, and insect bites or stings.
    • 2. Identify the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person. Demonstrate proper technique in performing CPR using a training device approved by your counselor.

    Teach the following knots on the first night and have the boys demonstrate the knots on the second night:

    • 7. Knots. Demonstrate the ability to tie each of the following knots. Give at least one example of how each knot is used in belaying, climbing, or rappelling.
      • 7a. Figure eight on a bight
      • 7b. Figure eight follow-through
      • 7c. Water knot
      • 7d. Double fishermanıs knot (Grapevine knot)

    The following topics get taught over the two nights prior to the rock climbing trip:

    • 4. Location. Do the following:
      • 4a. Explain how the difficulty of climbs is classified, and apply classifications to the rock faces or walls where you will demonstrate your climbing skills.
      • 4b. Explain the following: top-rope climbing, lead climbing, and bouldering.
      • 4c. Evaluate the safety of a particular climbing area. Consider weather, visibility, the condition of the climbing surface, and any other environmental hazards.
      • 4d. Determine how to summon aid to the climbing area in case of an emergency.
    • 5. Verbal signals. Explain the importance of using verbal signals during every climb and rappel, and while bouldering. With the help of the merit badge counselor or another Scout, demonstrate the verbal signals used by each of the following:
      • 5a. Climbers
      • 5b. Rappellers
      • 5c. Belayers
      • 5d. Boulderers and their spotters
    • 6. Rope. Do the following:
      • 6a. Describe the kind of rope acceptable for use in climbing and rappelling.
      • 6b. Show how to examine a rope for signs of wear or damage.
      • 6c. Discuss ways to prevent a rope from being damaged.
      • 6d. Explain when and how a rope should be retired.
      • 6e. Properly coil a rope.
    • 12. Demonstrate ways to store rope, hardware, and other gear used for climbing, rappelling, and belaying.

    Do the following requirements at the gym:

    • 3. Present yourself properly dressed for belaying, climbing, and rappelling (i.e., appropriate clothing, footwear, and a helmet; rapellers must wear gloves).
    • 8. Harnesses. Correctly put on at least ONE of the following:
      • 8a. Commercially made climbing harness
      • 8b. Tied harness
    • 9. Belaying. Do the following:
      • 9a. Explain the importance of belaying every climber and rappeller.
      • 9b. Belay three different climbers ascending a rock face or climbing wall.
      • 9c. Belay three different rappellers descending a rock face or climbing wall.
    • 10. Climbing. Do the following:
      • 10a. Show the correct way to tie into a belay rope.
      • 10b. Climb at least three different routes on a rock face or climbing wall, demonstrating good technique and using verbal signals with a belayer.
    • 11. Rappelling. Do the following:
      • 11a. Using carabiners and a rappel device, secure your climbing harness or tied harness to a rappel rope.
      • 11b. Tie into a belay rope set up to protect rappellers.
      • 11c. Rappel down three different rock faces or three rappel routes on a climbing wall. Use verbal signals to communicate with a belayer, and demonstrate good rappelling technique.

    Advanced Trips:

    The "Climbing Merit Badge" is a pre-requisite for any boy interested in attending these trips:

  • Ice Climbing, Cathedral Ledge, NConway NH
  • Ice Climbing, Rumney Cliffs, Rumney NH
  • Ice Climbing, Newfound Lake, Hebron NH
  • Advanced Rock Climbing, Rumney Cliffs, Rumney NH
  • Advanced Rock Climbing, Jockey's Cap, Freyburg ME
  • Advanced Rock Climbing, College Rocks, Hopkington MA
  • Advanced Rock Climbing, Hammond Pond, Newton MA

    Advanced Topics:

    These topics are meant as "general interest". Most are in the category of "Show-n-Tell".

  • Top Rope anchor set-up
  • Sport Climbing procedures
  • Trad Climbing protection
  • Bouldering procedures

    Nearby Gyms:

  • Mill City Rock Gym, Dracut MA, (978)957-1030,
  • Verticle Dreams, Manchester NH, (603)625-6919,
  • Boulder Mortys, Nashua NH, (603) 886-6789,
  • Boston Rock Gym, Woburn MA, (617) 935-PEAK,
  • MetroRock, Everett MA, (617)387-ROCK(7625),
  • Rock Barn, Plymouth NH, (603)536-2717,

    Climbing Schools:

  • Jim Shimberg, Plymouth NH,
  • International Mountain Climbing School, NConway NH,
  • Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), various locations,

    Other web sites:

  • -Climbing Magazine's web-site

    Nearby outdoor climbing areas:

    all of the MA areas can be found in the book: Boston Rocks (available at most climbing stores), the other non-MA areas listed have dedicated climbing guides published about them.

  • College Rocks, Hopkington MA
  • Den Rocks, NAndover MA
  • Hammond Pond, Newton MA
  • Quincy Quarry, Quincy MA
  • Crow Hill, Leominster State Park
  • Pawtuckaway State Park, Raymond NH
  • Lincoln Woods, Lincoln RI
  • Rumney, Rumney NH

    Gift Giving Ideas:

    Below is an excerpt of a "Christmas" handout to parents showing some gift ideas for their boys.

    Rock Climbing gift ideas:

    Where can I get this stuff? Stores with good deals and/or great equipment selection:

    • International Mountain Equipment (N. Conway NH)
      • great mountaineering store with 2nd-hand consignment shop (low prices)
    • Ragged Mountain (Jackson NH)
      • a lot of supplies for sew-it-yourself clothing (fleece)
    • Boston Rock Gym (Woburn MA)
      • may be pricey, but great selection of rock climbing stuff.

    Free Catalogs:

    Stores you should shop at ONLY if they have a sale:

    • EMS (everywhere)
    • REI (Reading MA & Seattle WA)
    • Boulder Morty's (Nashua NH)
    • All Outdoors (Manchester NH)