Increase the Educational Value of Your Climbing Wall

auto belays

Climbing is exploding in popularity across the U.S. and climbing walls are becoming a staple of campus recreation. Part of the appeal is the unique workout that climbing offers. To finish a route, climbers must combine balance, strength and coordination to unlock the puzzle of hand holds and foot holds. At the same time, kids and adults with a wide range of abilities can try climbing.  Auto belays help make the sport accessible to newcomers without any previous knowledge. Do auto belays make it too easy, though and remove educational opportunities?

On the contrary, auto belays can help you maximize the educational value of your climbing wall by increasing opportunities for learning and practicing new skills. Here are three key educational benefits of utilizing auto belays at your campus climbing wall:

  • Learning to Belay with a Backup: One of the core technical skills required to climb with a rope is belaying. The belayer is the person managing the slack in the rope while a climber ascends, and they must be ready to catch any falls or to lower the climber safely once they reach the top of a route. Just like many skills, belaying requires practice to perfect. Auto belays provide a reliable backup for belayers still perfecting this essential safety skill and provide an opportunity to practice in a controlled environment.
  • Learning to Lead Climb or Lead Belay:  Similarly, auto belays create an opportunity to learn to lead climb or lead belay while having backup.  Lead climbing involves the climber ascending with the rope and clipping in as they progress, instead of climbing from a rope anchored at the top. Lead climbing and lead belaying both involve a set of skills that need to be practiced, and auto belays provide peace of mind to do so.
  • Group Classes and Coaching: With auto belays, staff are able to easily supervise many people on the wall at the same time.  This allows a single staff member to teach a group new skills and then let the group practice those skills on auto belay while they supervise and provide coaching. Participants get more time on the wall applying the lessons while staff are able to coach multiple people.

Climbing is a sport that promotes physical well-being, offers a mental challenge, and teaches the value of focus and perseverance.  Auto belays help make climbing accessible to newcomers without any previous knowledge and allows them to get on the wall after a quick orientation. They’ll be able to immediately experience the sport and get hooked.  After that, auto belays provide many opportunities to learn and practice new skills that will help them grow as a climber and as an individual.

Jenna Stadsvold is a Marketing Coordinator with Head Rush Technologies as well as a climber of moderate abilities.  She remembers that feeling of being new to the climbing gym and now enjoys helping others discover climbing for the first time.  (, 720-565-6885)

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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