The British Mountaineering Council recognises that Climbing and Mountaineering are activities with a danger of potential injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions. Reading these notes is no substitute for instruction by a qualified person.

Dos and don'ts
 Use your own rope when leading  Take bags onto the black flooring
 Clip into all the runners when leading  Take food or drink into the sports hall
 Check your own and your partner's harness before climbing  Climb bare foot
 Check your knot before climbing  Take down any of the centre ropes
 Clip into both karabiners at the top of a lead climb  Put fingers through the intermediate anchor loops
 Enjoy your climb!  Wear jeans or non-sporting attire in the climbing area
Summary of the table's contents


Safety on the wall

Hazard assessment

Hazard assessment and route choice

You need to think carefully and plan ahead when selecting your routes. What are the dangers or difficulties that need to be overcome? Is the route the right grade for you and your partner's ability?

Top-rope climbing

Minimum requirements for safe top-rope climbing

  • All participants must sign a form declaring their ability to climb at Ethos on their first visit to the wall acknowledging personal responsibility for safe climbing
  • All participants must use UIAA-approved belay devices and harnesses
  • Belayers must remain attentive and stand while belaying . Don't lie down as you will not be able to lock off the ropes properly
  • Harnesses must be snug with the belt above hips and tied-up securely with buckle/buckles doubled back
  • Figure 8 knot must be tied correctly into harness
  • Belayer must know how to use the belay device correctly
  • Belay device must be set up properly and the belay Karabiner must be locked
  • You must be able to belay without dropping/letting go of the brake hand
  • You must be able to switch between belaying and lowering without compromising the brake hand
  • When lowering, the brake hand must not go above 3 o'clock position

It is not uncommon for our staff to point out inappropriate safety procedures.

Lead climbing

Minimum requirements for safe lead climbing

All lead climbers should follow the same minimum safety standards as those for top-rope climbing in addition to the following:

  • Stand close to the wall. If you stand far out from the wall and the leader falls you may be pulled towards the wall at high speed
  • Belayers must remain attentive to lead climbers at all times and stand while belaying
  • Belayers must keep minimal slack
  • Belayer must take a leaders fall without losing control and with minimal rope play
  • Anticipate when your leader will need slack to clip or move. The leader should not have to struggle to pull up rope
  • Lead climbers must bring their own lead ropes as lead ropes are not provided by Ethos
  • Check that your belayer is set up properly e.g. is the karabiner done up?
  • Leader must clip all quickdraws in order
  • Leader must clip quickdraw karabiners in the correct direction without trouble
  • When clipping a runner don't pull up the rope in a quick jerk. This makes it harder for your second to pay out slack because it causes the ropes to lock in the belay device
  • Leader must expect and be willing to take a fall
  • Check that the belayer is paying attention. If not, shout down to get their attention. If they persistently do not pay attention while you are climbing consider climbing with someone else



Ethos recommends that you wear a helmet for climbing or belaying. They provide a degree of protection against impacts with hard objects; however, they are not compulsory.

Other people

Watch out for other people, both for your own safety and theirs.

  • don't use abusive language
  • don't damage the wall
  • be considerate of others