Lead Certification


Lead Workshops are variable throughout the summer; inquire at the Outing Center. Please arrive at least 10 minutes early or pre-register with the Outing Center staff. The cost is $5.00.

If you already have lead climbing experience with a "GriGri", you may opt to "challenge" the Lead Certification. Lead Challenges are variable throughout the summer, inquire at the Outing Center. Please arrive at least 10 minutes early and see the Outing Center staff to get registered and pay.

What is Lead Climbing?

Lead climbing and lead belaying are complex activities that require the anticipation of a number of factors not present in top-rope climbing and a greater understanding of and ability to manage risk while using more complex belay methods and protection systems. Those wanting to lead climb at the AppState climbing wall must demonstrate the ability to safely and comfortably lead climb at the 5.8 standard or higher, as well as properly belay a lead climber with a "Gri Gri" using the "new technique" as demonstrated in the video on this page. 

Outdoor Programs can provide a rope for the lead climbing workshop and challenge or for general use by lead climbers. If you choose to provide your own rope, you should ensure that the rope you select and use at the climbing wall is manufactured for lead climbing and has been cared for, stored and used in a manner consistent with manufacturer recommendations. Our staff will ask to inspect your rope and reserve the right to prohibit the use of any rope determined to be unsatisfactory for use in the AppState facility.

Those interested in becoming lead certified at the AppState wall are encouraged to practice mock-leads prior to attempting the certification to become familiar with the lead process and protocol at AppState. A mock-lead is performed on a top-rope while trailing a separate rope that is clipped into the draws and top anchor. This also presents a great opportunity for someone to practice lead belay using a "Gri Gri". Feel free to speak with a Climbing Wall Supervisor regarding mock-leads.

What You Will be Tested On:

  • Understanding of  common hazards to avoid while lead climbing at the AppState climbing wall
  • Proficiency in fitting a harness and tying the figure-8-follow through
  • Ability to stack rope in preparation for climb
  • Safety pre-climb check (between belayer and climber)
  • The use of common commands including “Belay Contract”
  • Ability to lead at 5.8 standard or higher illustrating confident, smooth, and controlled movement
  • Properly clip all draws and top anchor avoiding basic clipping errors (i.e. back-clipping, z-clipping, back-stepping)
  • Belay skills to include: loading belay device, evaluating pros/cons of anchoring, spotting, belay technique that maintains brake hand on rope, catching a climber’s fall, and lowering climber
  • Cleaning rope by pulling through draw

Lead Certification Process:

Take the Lead Climbing Workshop if you're new to lead climbing.

Already know how to lead climb and want to be certification to lead climb at the climbing wall?

Lead certifications are offered at variable times throughout the summer season, inquire at the Outing Center. A $5 certification fee must be paid prior to receiving your certification. You will need to have a climbing partner who is either already lead certified or is competent to be lead certified. If you cannot find a qualified partner, we may be able to partner you with someone else, but cannot guarantee this. You will be required to provide a rope for the lead certification that is manufactured for the purpose of lead climbing and has been properly cared for and used in accordance with manufacturer recommendations. You will be asked to demonstrate acceptable proficiency in lead climbing and belaying to receive the certification. Climbers/belayers receiving an “unsatisfactory” in any skill will be asked to retest and will not be charged an additional fee of $5 for re-testing.