How To Be A Safer Climber With A Pre-Climb Checklist


Some climbing accidents just happen. You might just be unlucky, and be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But many accidents are caused by human error, and are therefore avoidable. Never be complacent and think that you won’t make a mistake. If you are climbing with someone you don't know well, following a pre-climb checklist can literally be a life-saver.

Photo credit: Nigel Riley

Photo credit: Nigel Riley

1. Check each other’s harness

  • Is it on correctly?
  • Any twists?
  • Is the buckle doubled back if necessary? This depends on the model of harness you are using. If you’re not sure, check the manufacturer's instructions before you go climbing.

2. Check each other’s helmet

  • Is it positioned correctly?
  • Is it sitting just above the eye brows?
  • Is the cradle firmly pulled on to the head?
  • Is the chin strap done up?

3. Attaching to the rope

  • Are both climbers correctly tied in to the rope?
  • If bottom-roping or single pitch sport climbing, have you tied a knot in the end of the rope? Open systems, where the dead end of the rope is not attached to anything, are responsible for a large percentage of climbing injuries and fatalities.

4. Belaying device

  • Is the belay device threaded properly?
  • Is the karabiner locked? Give it a quick squeeze check.

5. Climbing calls

  • Do you both know what you mean by your calls?
  • Do you both know what action each call should prompt?
  • Do you have a communication plan for places where it's difficult to hear?
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6. Climbing gear

  • Does the climber have the rack?
  • Does the climber have enough gear and quick draws for the route?
  • Does the second have a nut key?
  • Does the second know how to get the gear out?

7. Rigging a belay

8. Before multi-pitch climbing

  • Have you got the climbing guide with you?
  • Do you have food, water and clothes for the day?
  • Do you have gear you can leave behind if necessary when rigging an abseil? Don’t skimp – how much is your life worth?
  • Do you know how to carry out a simple rescue
  • Do you have a plan for an emergency?
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9. Before abseiling

  • Do you know for sure that the rope is long enough to reach the ground?
  • If not, have you tied a knot in the end of the rope?
  • Have you set up an auto block with a prusik loop?
  • Does the second abseiler know how to attach to the rope? If not, do a stacked abseil, where both climbers are attached before the first one sets off.

Be safe and have fun! Click here for a printable version of the checklist