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Southern Sandstone Supervisors Award - Syllabus and Technical Notes 1. Knowledge
a) Keep up to date with current practices eg reading magazines, talking to climbers/group leaders.
b) Have an understanding of the various sub-sports within climbing.
c) Be aware of the need for warming up and how to avoid injuries.
d) Be familiar with the equipment available.
2. Personal Climbing
a) Be able to climb confidently using a basic 3 point of contact style, with good use of holds & balance.
b) Be able to climb/abseil to a participant who may need assistance, as a last resort.
3. First Aid
a) All supervisors should hold a current first aid qualification.
a) Find out the ability/age of your group, this may affect the choice of venue/location.
b) Have knowledge of the chosen venue/location, preferably by climbing/abseiling there before taking the group.
c) Check if there are any access difficulties. For example, parking of vehicles, crossing private land.
d) Prepare an equipment list by checking what is needed For example, types of sling for belays such as long static slings.
e) Obtain parents’ permission to undertake activity.
f) Appoint a Home Contact and ensure all details of participants are available.
g) Be aware of the nearest first aid provision.
a) Have a knowledge of equipment available and be able to select the appropriate gear for the group and activity involved.
b) Understand the importance of equipment being the correct size.
c) Be aware of types of equipment considered no longer appropriate for personal or group use.
d) Be able to maintain and care for all equipment and know how to store it correctly.
e) Be able to recognise when equipment is worn out or is too old and should not be used.
f) Be aware that equipment failure and misuse are the main cause of accidents.
g) Have a logbook system for recording age and usage of equipment.
h) Understand the correct use of the following equipment :-
6. Anchors Demonstrate an ability to choose suitable and sound anchors at the crag. At this level this will involve the use of trees, stakes bolts and occasional other man made anchor points only – climbing protection such as nuts, camming devices etc. are expressly outside the scope of the Sandstone Award and must not be used under any circumstances by Sandstone leaders. Demonstrate an ability to set up anchors so as to:
a) position the belay karabiner directly above the line of the climb;
b) utilise multiple anchor points and equalise tension;
c) optimise the finishing point of the climb;
7. Ropework. Understand the correct use of, and be able to tie and demonstrate to others, the following knots:
• Figure of Eight (including on the bight and re-threaded)
• Englishman’s Knot (Double Stopper Knot)
8. Belaying Be able to:
a) Set up both top and bottom rope systems.
b) Be able to belay in a safe manner using a variety of belay devices.
c) Understand the advantages and disadvantages of directly tying the harness onto the rope or indirectly using a figure of 8 on the bight and a Karabiner.
d) Appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of indirect and direct belays.
e) Be able to teach belaying to groups in a methodical and clear manner.
f) Be able to supervise groups belaying themselves, understand that it may be necessary for the leader to hold the dead rope as a precaution.
g) Understand how to use ground anchors for the belayer and how to improvise if these are not available.
h) Ensure that the descent from the crag is safe and controlled. (lower off only when access to the top would be dangerous to participants)
a) Understand the importance of never allowing the group leader to place themselves in a dangerous situation, for instance leaders should ensure they are safe when at the top of a crag.
b) Be able to select a venue and equipment appropriate to the group.
c) Wear a safety rope and helmet when demonstrating.
d) Be aware at all times of what all members in the group are doing.
e) Give clear instructions to the group as to where they may go within the area. Dangers must be pointed out to them.
f) Check that all long hair is tied back, draw cords, neckerchiefs removed, or tucked out of the way, all rings, watches and bracelets are removed. Check that participants are wearing suitable clothing for the activity and that loose clothing cannot snag the system.
g) Understand the importance of checking all equipment that group members put on and develop the habit of rechecking during the activity.
h) Ensure that group sizes are not too large.
i) Ensure an adequate Supervisor/Participant ratio.
j) Understand the benefits of bouldering as part of climbing training and its use as a group management technique.
otes for Leaders
These notes are intended for use as a guide to good practise in conjunction with the Syllabus. They are not exhaustive; please refer to any of the texts listed as references and be familiar with as many techniques as possible. These notes are in discussion form to help you organise and run activities; they are not intended as a definitive or prescriptive document. If you have any queries please contact the Sandstone Group.
Syllabus areas 1. Knowledge and Currency a) Keep up to date with current practices. Those who hope to lead and instruct others
climbing or abseiling should have an interest in the sport themselves and generally be aware of current developments. Developments may happen quickly, and leaders operating in isolation will be helped by keeping abreast of current news by reading climbing magazines etc.
Example: An example of change in practise is the situation with Figure of Eight descenders in 1998. A technical report was published and highlighted in national climbing magazines which told of some incidents where Fig 8 descenders, often used as belay devices, had been twisted so as to lie across the gate of a karabiner and when loaded actually break the karabiner. One abseiler in the UK died as a result of this on an instructed session when there was no independent safety rope. DMM subsequently developed a karabiner (the Belaymaster) which negates this problem, and it is now current practice never to belay with Fig 8 descenders except with this or a similar karabiner being used.
b) The best way to keep up with current practice is to go climbing, and to talk to other
climbers. A level of personal skill is a great asset to leaders, and a personal interest in the activity is always apparent to the participants under instruction.
A qualification is useful only if it is used and the leader is fluent in their instruction, ropework and group management.
2. Personal Climbing a) and b) It is a requirement of the Syllabus that leaders climb at a 4a standard prior to
assessment. However, subsequent to this leaders should also be aware that they are expected to be able to do what they are asking others to do. It may also be necessary to climb and abseil in order to facilitate a rescue or other situation and candidates should expect to demonstrate this. Leaders would not be expected to climb up to a climber unroped and rescue them; normally this is dangerous and unnecessary. Climbing more than a few feet off of the ground unroped at most sessions should not be part of normal practice for leaders.
Leaders are therefore required to show that they can abseil themselves, and that they are capable of demonstrations of climbing technique at ground level.
3. First Aid On assessment candidates should present their current First Aid certificate. If this is not available, out of date etc. candidates may be deferred (i.e. a full pass will be issued when the certificate is presented). There is no First Aid test or component involved in the assessment as this should be covered by a First Aid Certificate. 4. Preparation The requirements for leaders prior to organising a session of climbing or abseiling can be daunting; however once the checks have been done on the first occasion it should not be too difficult. Leaders must be aware of several factors; these are also discussed on the training course in some detail. Legal factors a) Climbing and abseiling leaders must understand that anyone offering instruction for
payment must hold an AALA (Adventurous Activities Licensing Authority) Licence*. This is not within the scope of this scheme.
*(Please note: it is not appropriate to list here all of the conditions for licence requirements. You should check with each centre whether they have, or need, a licence as the situation is complex. Some centres for example offer only activities which do not need a licence; some are voluntary organisations (e.g. Scouts) and only offer activities to other voluntary organisations, and therefore don’t need a licence; etc. etc. Please check!)
b) Some centres use outside instructors and make a charge, and hold their own AALA
licences. Leaders working at such centres will be covered by those centres’ licences; but it is your responsibility to clarify this with the centre beforehand.
Parental consent – procedure for this is covered below; leaders must be aware of the need for
Practical considerations a) Find out the ability/age of your group, this may affect the choice of venue/location. b) Select venue and climbs – this may seem obvious but it is important to give climbers,
especially at the start, a positive learning experience. Leaders often underestimate the difficulty of ‘easy’ climbs to new students. Ideally a location will have several very easy climbs in close proximity for easy supervision. These locations can be hard to find!
c) Have knowledge of the chosen venue/location, preferably by climbing/abseiling there
before taking the group. This is an invaluable aid to improving the quality of experience for the participants and the safety levels – you will be aware of the hazards of operating at the location and better able to manage the group accordingly.
d) Check if there are any access difficulties. For example, is parking possible and has it been
a problem in the past with landowners etc.? Is the crag on private land and if so has permission been obtained/is it necessary to obtain permission?
e) Prepare an equipment list by checking what is needed/available at the crag. For example,
some crags will need longer static rope slings as belays may be well back from the edge.
f) Obtain parents’ permission to undertake activity. This must be done in writing. Parents
must also give details of any medical conditions of which you should be aware. A sample medical/consent form is given as Appendix A When seeking consent parents must be given details of the activities to be undertaken and where there is any room for misunderstanding activities must be explained. For example, many people think of ‘scrambling’ as involving motor bikes. Many people do not understand the meaning of technical terms such as ‘abseiling’ – most probably do, but do not assume that they will. It is probably reasonable to assume that climbing and abseiling will be clear, but try to avoid any more technical terms.
g) Appoint a Home Contact and ensure all details of participants are available. h) Be aware of the nearest first aid provision and hospital Accident & Emergency
i) Organise/ carry mobile phone wherever possible. Give the number to the home contact. 5. Equipment a) Appropriate equipment. Whilst this is a large area of knowledge and will be covered in all
training/ assessment courses; some general points are:
i) All participants in climbing and abseiling sessions should wear climbing helmets. These must be CE approved climbing helmets. ii) Need for chest/body harnesses for age 11 and under
iii) Type of karabiner – steel/alloy/shape according to intended use and amount of wear anticipated. iv) Type of harness - these might be chosen for ease of use or range of size and adjustability. There are several good group harnesses available notably from Petzl, Camp and DMM. Note the comments about gear loops under ‘misuse of equipment’. v) Ropes – full (single rope nominal 11mm) UIAA approved kernmantel climbing ropes should be used for climbing; ‘static’ abseil rope for abseiling.
b) Size of equipment – this is important as children can be a wide variety of sizes and some
equipment is sized, so a set of harnesses for example mustn’t be assumed to be usable for every group.
- Harnesses must be tight around the waist; - Helmets must fit without falling off when the head is shaken/tilted; - Chest harnesses should be tight - All equipment should be adjusted carefully and checked by the leader. This is a
common area of oversight and often assumed to be unimportant. Take care and time over this at the beginning of a session and check before each climb/abseil for loosening belts, straps etc.
c) Outdated gear – some types of equipment are still occasionally seen in use. Hawser laid
rope for example should not be considered for use with groups. Some old types of harness (e.g. Whillans harnesses) are extremely uncomfortable and would presumable be past their safe life by now in any event. Climbing belts (as opposed to harnesses) should not be used.
d) Equipment should be stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. In
general the life of ‘soft’ equipment like ropes, slings and harnesses will be up to three years, dependant on the level of use, if used and stored correctly. However be aware that you must check and maintain gear frequently. With heavy use a rope might last as little as two weeks even without any misuse. Gear should be stored in dry conditions away from UV light and any contact with chemicals, oil etc. Karabiners may last indefinitely prvided that their functions still work correctly and they do not show signs of significant wear.
- At the end of the period the manufacturer recommends in any event. - Ropes – check for fraying, sheath slippage, core showing through, feels misshapen
- Harnesses – watch fraying especially at key points such as waist belt & attachment
point. Minor frays (up to say 10% of width) may be monitored carefully but these will expand rapidly and it is best to dispose of them straight away.
- Karabiners – these will generally last longer than nylon equipment; however they
can wear if used to run ropes through -–distinct grooves can appear. A groove of just 1mm is the maximum permitted. Any burrs which could cut ropes mean they should be retired; and the movement of gates and so on checked. Belay devices etc. have similar wear properties and should be checked in the same way. It may be useful to use steel karabiners with this type of instruction as they wear better, and they don’t need to be carried on a harness so weight is not such a consideration.
- Slings – check for fraying regularly. - Helmets – check for chipping, cracks, cradle coming away from the inside, cradle
f) There are many possible types of misuse of gear and the training and assessment courses
discuss this in detail. There are many points to note with group work and this list is not exhaustive but illustrates a few common examples:
- Some climbing harnesses (and old belts) come supplied with a belay loop which
seems like a good idea. However if inverted this loop will be attached only by a tiny tape and participants have been known to continue belaying/tying in with this. It is a good idea to dispose of these loops or at least the attaching tape so that the loop would fall off if inverted.
- Similarly many climbing harnesses not designed for groups have gear loops for a
rack of climbing gear and participants will often use these to tie on to the rope.
Example – one student who had attended several climbing sessions and was 17 years old clipped on to the end of a rope using an accessory karabiner (breaking strain 10kg) and clipped this into a gear loop! He fell from 10 feet and just reached the ground safely, but the karabiner was almost completely straightened out.
- Many participants and leaders use the abseil loops of some harnesses to belay from
and tie climbers in with. They aren’t designed for this. Read the instructions to your harness carefully and see what you can do with each type. For example, Petzl Club harnesses have a loop which you can use for these purposes.
- Side/cross loading karabiners. Karabiners are designed to be loaded end to end
along the back bar and should only be used that way. Loads or running ropes should never go across the gate.
- Fig 8 descenders for belaying – although these have been widely used there is great
potential for the descender to fall across the gate and break it with a levering action. Fig 8 descenders should only be used to belay in conjunction with a DMM Belaymaster karabiner or similar.
- Belay devices in general must be used correctly; the locking hand must be able to
bring the rope in line as a continuation of itself in order to lock properly. Twisted ropes or belaying with wrong hand will not lock properly.
g) It is useful to have a logbook for gear, even if just the simplest kind to record the date of
purchase of gear. It is easy to forget how old gear is when it is used frequently. If you have a lot of gear you may want to develop a more sophisticated system to log gear in & out and record its usage. In this case gear should be numbered and each use recorded with comments etc. Most stores will already have such a system in place. The important factor is that each unit/store/leader should have an appropriate level of system – a leader who only uses their own equipment will know it better and be aware that something is wearing out; whereas multiple users will need a more accurate system of recording. The manufaturer’s instructions that come attached to every piece of climbing gear should be kept and not disposed of (it is only necessary to keep one set of instructions for each batch of gear). These instructions contain information on maximum usage, care etc.
h) The uses of the equipment listed forms the basis of climbing instruction and as such it is
not appropriate to describe each here. Leaders will already be aware of such points if they climb regularly. However leaders should familiarise themselves with the literature available so as to gain as wide a spectrum of knowledge as possible. (See references).
6. Belaying and Ropework
- Demonstrate an ability to set up anchors – this is a central part of climbing
instruction and 100% safe anchors are crucial. Candidates will be expected to be able to assess the best choice of anchor and how to set this up, with
reasonable speed and efficiency. Candidates should be able to operate without
lengthy delays in order that their participants are not waiting excessively to begin an activity (see group management). A variety of methods will be demonstrated on training courses.
- Choice of anchor points – in many cases these will be obvious. Anchors should be
directly above climbs/abseils and as high as possible. It is crucial that leaders pay great attention to the selection of their anchors.
Examples: trees may be old, roots hollow, branches weak. Trees close to the top of crags are almost by definition growing in thin soil and can be very marginal. Stakes and bolts: who placed them? How do you know? How old are they and what is happening beneath the surface where you can’t see. Don’t take it for granted that just because it’s man made means it’s fine – it isn’t. Corrosion can mean that these are rotten very quickly.
- Connect self and others to rope/system – normally a leader will be connected only at
the top of an abseil tower for personal safety; during a climbing session they would not need to tie in. Candidates must be able to tie in participants by using the rope directly and by using a karabiner on the harness; and appreciate the reasons for using either method. It is also important to tie into each type of harness correctly (the manufacturer’s instructions indicate this).
- Demonstrate a variety of belay techniques – candidates should be able to choose
between the merits of different systems and devices for belaying. It is useful to have a basic knowledge of even those types of methods not recommended for groups (e.g. body belays) in order that leaders can appreciate the merits of the systems they themselves use.
- Belay or ‘Sticht’ plate (sprung/unsprung) - Italian hitch - Fig 8 Descender - ATC/Bug/Tuber or similar - Grigri - Single Rope Controller, Reverso and others
- Instructors only belaying - Italian hitch belaying in teams - Belaying using variety of devices in teams - Walk back belays - Incorporating ground belays
nervous abseilers from below; and crucially ensure that abseilers don’t wander off up the crag into dangerous areas. If abseilers are to walk back to the top then the assistant should show them the way and even accompany them. 9. Safety and Group Management The number of participants that each leader may supervise is twelve. In practise this will translate to three ropes when climbing, or when abseiling 1:1. a) The leader must ensure their own safety at all times. You will be of no use to participants
if you are injured and unable to do anything.
- On abseil towers or at the top of crags always tie yourself on. - When at climbing sessions do not make a habit of soloing around or up & down to
climbers. This is bad practise as it degrades the perceived achievements of the participants under instruction; takes your attention away from the group; and could result in a fall for you which leaves the group unsupervised.
b) Select venue and climbs – see above. c) Wear a rope and helmet – this will apply when demonstrating the system if necessary. A
helmet must be worn by leaders if you are asking participants to wear one.
d) Awareness of the group is vital. It is important not to get too involved with any one
climber and ignore the rest. Frequently a climber having problems making a move will demand attention; if you walk to the bottom or climb a few feet and encourage that person then you cannot see the other ropes or climbers. Therefore it is better at most times to stand behind the group where you can see everyone and just go forward to deal with things as they arise.
e) Leaders must comply with wall/tower rules even where these exceed your own
f) Be aware that the group if unoccupied may well wander off into other areas. This can be as
important a safety issue as any other and frequently young people can be seen happily clambering about whilst the leader is preoccupied with the ‘real’ climbing or abseiling session.
- Define strict areas before the session where participants may/ may not go. - Use assistants/ any adults helping to supervise participants not actively involved or
- Occupy everyone. They won’t wander off if they have something interesting to do.
References Mountaincraft and Leadership by Eric Langmuir; Scottish Sports Council; ISBN 1850602956
This is a general text about leadership mainly aimed at Mountain Leaders, i.e. hillwalking leaders. However it is always good general reading for outdoor groups and highly recommended. The Complete Rock Climber by Malcolm Creasey; Lorenz Books; ISBN 1859679080 An excellent guide to climbing in general with superb illustrations. The Handbook of Climbing by Allen Fyffe and Iain Peter; Pelham; ISBN 0720720540 Again, an excellent, almost definitive, guide to all aspects of climbing. This is the ‘official’ BMC handbook for climbing. Further Modern Rope Techniques by Nigel Shepherd; Constable 1998; ISBN 0 09 478540 6 This excellent book is an addition to ‘A Manual of Modern Rope Techniques’ by the same author and is aimed specifically at instructors. Although some material is not needed at this level, many sections are and these are well explained with clear illustrations. Modern Rope Techniques in Mountaineering by Bill March; Cicerone Press 1988 Not entirely modern; however some useful diagrams. ISBN 0902 363 70 0 None of these texts cover many techniques for instructors however. This information is not really found in print, and the best source of information is other instructors and many hours of experience.
Appendix A ************ Outdoor Activity Camp Dates here I give my permission for my son/daughter to participate on the outdoor activity trip to ******** and fully understand the nature of the activities involved. Name of Participant___________________________________ Name of Parent/ Guardian____________________________ Signature___________________ Medical Details – please note that all of this information is essential Please fill in below where the person legally responsible for the student will be contactable during the time of the activity course: Home Address: _______________________________________________ Telephone: Code_____________ umber____________________ Emergency Address and Telephone number (if different to above e.g. grandparents, aunt, work etc.): Doctor’s ame and Address_________________________________________ Doctor’s Telephone umber _________________________________________ ational Health umber:___________________________________ Date of last tetanus injection:________________________________ Any known allergies (penicillin, plaster, insect bites etc.):___________________ Dietary considerations (vegetarian etc.):_______________________ Prescribed medication to be taken: Please indicate any medical conditions below: Please include all relevant information ( if you are not sure, please tell us anyway) and remember that your son/daughter will be taking part in strenuous physical activities: PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWI G CAREFULLY A D SIG BELOW
_________________________ I have read the information relating to Activity Day/ Camp and my son/daughter is aware of the details. I believe that he/she is fit to take part in the activities and have declared any relevant dietary requirements and medical details on the form overleaf. I give consent for the staff to seek medical advice should illness or an accident occur. If a surgical operation or injection becomes necessary, I authorise the teacher in charge to sign on my behalf any written consent to operate, as advised by the medical authorities. I also consent to my son/daughter being administered a non prescription painkiller by a member of staff if he/she requests. I agree to my son/daughter taking part in any or all of the activities described in the course letter. I understand that if the party leader considers the behaviour of my son/daughter to be unsatisfactory or could in any way jeopardise his/her own safety or that of others, that he/she will be excluded from activities or in the extreme be asked to return home early at my expense. I understand that it is vital for all pupils to obey without question, the instructions of the staff. Signed____________________ Date __________________
Completed Projects 1. The Ghana Vitamin A Supplementation Trial (VAST) 2. Epidemiology of Bancroftian filariasis in the Kassena-Nankana District of 3. Bancroftian Filariasis in the Kassena-Nankana District 4. Filariasis in northern Ghana: Some cultural beliefs and practices and their 5. Impact of Permethrin impregnated Bednets 6. Child Survival and Health in the Guinea Savanna (Ghana): A cas