The Tree Climber Coalition
Programmed Recreational Tree Climbs
The following document is the result of a request from a number of people to inspect
the guidelines under which programmed recreational tree climbs are administered.
This document applies only to "program" or "facilitated" climbs offered by agencies,
individuals, or institutions operating under liability conditions necessitating such
guidelines. This document does not apply to individuals and/or groups climbing
informally and under conditions outside the offerings of formal programs.
Recommendations for personnel administering a program climb
All program climbs shall be administered by instructors and facilitators who have received training as
facilitators and/or instructors from a recognized trainer or training entity, as well as training in basic recreational
Instructors and facilitators shall be familiar with, and have on hand, any documents that are required from
participants, such as waivers and release forms.
Instructors and facilitators shall be familiar with guidelines and policies specific to the location of the
climb and the administering host/partner agency.
Instructors and facilitators shall be familiar with the tree to be climbed and the equipment to be used
Recommendations for equipment to be used for program climbs
All equipment used in life-support applications shall be equipment manufactured specifically for use
with any accepted rope-assisted climbing activity by reputable, well-known manufacturers and shall be
used only in accordance with manufacturers recommendations.
Equipment shall be inspected and maintained following each climbing event and replaced, as needed, in
accordance with recommendations from manufacturers.
Only arborist ropes are to be used, and must be inspected before and after every climb.
All equipment shall be inspected before and after each climb, and that equipment that does not pass such
inspection shall be dealt with in accordance with manufacturers instructions and recommendations.
Recommendations for conducting the climb
The climbing site including the tree, and the area surrounding the tree, shall be inspected for hazards
before being rigged and prior to the beginning of the climb.
The tree shall be rigged by facilitators and instructors only. All rigging, including knots, shall be inspected
prior to the climb by the designated lead facilitator.
At least one setting shall be rigged for rescue and facilitation purposes only. At least one facilitator shall
always be rigged and ready to climb, in the event of an emergency.
Participants will complete, sign or have signed by parent/guardian, and submit all necessary documents,
such as waivers or releases, prior to climbing.
All climbers and, if appropriate, all parents and guardians of climbers, shall receive proper orientation and
introduction to safety procedures prior to climbing. Climbing techniques and safety protocols shall be
Parents or guardians of underage participants shall remain in the vicinity of the climb and be available if
All climbing shall occur on rope. Free climbing, or off rope climbing, is not permitted, and will result
in immediate cessation of that climber's participation in the event.
The facilitator-to-climber ratio, as established by the administering agency, shall be adhered to. This ratio
shall not exceed 6:1.
All climbers shall be fitted into harnesses and other equipment by facilitators and inspected to ensure a proper and
All climbers shall be attached to climbing ropes by facilitators and inspected to ensure a proper and
All loose items shall be secured to the climber before the climber leaves the ground.
Once climbers are on rope and off the ground, ascent and descent procedures should be re-stated and
the climber questioned by the facilitator to ensure that procedures are understood.
As climbers advance, facilitators shall make sure that safety knots are placed in climbers ropes at appropriate
Facilitators shall remain vigilant to rwecognize potential problems. Such problems include weather, personality
issues, outside distractions, and parents who may coach their children in an inappropriate manner.
All climbing shall adhere to a policy of Challenge By Choice.
Onlookers , bystanders, and parents/guardians are to be discouraged from interfering in any way with
facilitators efforts to conduct a safe and successful climb.
All descents shall be monitored by facilitators with a hand on the climbers rope.
Participants shall be relieved of their gear immediately following the climb by facilitators.
Facilitators will ensure that all gear has been returned.
Recommendations for an emergency action plan
Instructors and facilitators shall have an emergency action plan discussed and in place before the start of
All instructors and facilitators administering a programmed climb shall have First Aid/CPR certification
via Red Cross or other recognized agency.
All instructors and facilitators shall have received instruction in rescue techniques applicable for the type
of climb to be conducted and be familiar with all rescue gear provided at the climbing site.
An appropriate-sized first aid kit shall be available at every climb. The first aid kit will be inspected and
re-stocked following all climbs.
A telephone (or cell phone) shall be accessible, or the whereabouts of the nearest phone known, with a list of emergency numbers.
Recommended post-climb procedures
De-rigging the tree shall be performed by facilitator personnel
All gear shall be inspected for damage before being stored.
An after-action review, or debriefing, shall occur in which all issues concerning the climb shall be discussed.
Accident report forms and after-action report forms shall be filled out after the climb as needed.
Recommendations for adaptive climbs
In addition to the recommendations above:
Facilitators shall have received training in adaptive climbing systems from a recognized trainer or training
Medical personnel familiar with the climbers' conditions and needs shall be present to oversee the climb, or have been consulted about specific recommendations for individual climbers,
and to make recommendations concerning connections between climbers and the support system.
A further recommendation
All individuals, agencies, and institutions offering programmed climbing should create a set of guidelines
specific to their own circumstances and their own area of climbing. Such guidelines may be added to the
guidelines appearing above and where necessary, shall replace or supercede those recommendations offered
in this document.