Abseiling /Canyoning Competencies

Basic Abseiling Competencies

The following are the competencies taught at the SBW Introductory Abseiling Workshops, and are the assumed pre-requisite to attend abseiling trips or abseiling canyons with Sydney Bush Walkers.

  • general safety - cliff edges and falling objects
  • correctly fit harness
  • correctly thread abseil rope onto descending device
  • understand and use the "A B C D E-F" checking steps (initially aloud) prior to every abseil
    • A - Anchor(s)
    • B - Buckles
    • C - Carabiner(s)
    • D - Descender
    • E - Everything else eg gloves, helmet secured, shoelaces, long hair tied back, prusiks on harness
    • F - Friend (belayer)
  • understand the communication pattern with the belayer
  • abseil a variety of pitches; vertical, stepped, overhang
  • safely prusik several metres (4m) using 3 points of contact with abseil rope
  • belay another abseiler from below, and arrest the abseiler's descent
  • know how to tie the following knots abseiling_ropes.jpg
    • Double fishermans bend
    • Figure of eight knot - loop
    • Clove hitch
    • Prusik knot (Klemheist)

Improvised Rope Rescue Competencies

The questions below outline the broad instructional/assessment areas:

What would you do if: (For questions 1-4, answer for top-belay or bottom-belay):

1. An Abseiler's hair or clothing became stuck in their device while descending?

2. An Abseiler was terrified and needed to come back up the cliff?

3. An Abseiler injured themselves on the cliff face? Mildly? Seriously? Unconscious?

4. An Abseiler came across a knot in the rope half way down the cliff? Did you check that they have prussiks and know how to use them?

5. Do you know how to self-belay?

6. Do you know how to set up a hauling system? Z-drag? (Un-assisted Hoist), and an Assisted Hoist?

7. Do you understand how Hauling Systems are configured to create a load advantage, and how these can also create additional stress and load amplification on anchors?

8. Do you know what an "autoblocking" mechanism is? Why would you use one?

9. Can you improvise a waist harness? A chest harness?

10. If you have no descending device, (for whatever reason) do you know how to tie a Munter Hitch (Italian Hitch) to descend?


Canyon Leader Competencies

The following are broad competencies for SBW Canyon Leaders. It is difficult to be prescriptive as situations need to be treated on their merits. These only cover competencies specific to abseiling/canyoning. There are other competencies that are expected of SBW Trip Leaders in general eg navigation, group management, time management, which are not covered here.

  • group safety - ensure participants have a self check eg ABCDEF, know how to belay, have the appropriate equipment for the trip
  • knots - know the following knots at minimum
    • a knot for tying tape slings - eg tape knot (aka water knot)
    • a knot for tying rope slings and prusik loops - eg double fishermans knot
    • a knot for joining two ropes - eg one-sided overhand bend
    • a knot for prusiking - eg standard prusik knot or klemheist prusik knot
  • gear
    • organise for the appropriate group gear (ropes, slings)
    • be capable of checking the setup of gear of participants
    • be familiar with a range of descenders
  • anchors - check existing anchors, both for safety and position; select and set up new anchors
  • abseils - assess abseil difficulty, understand that there may be other options (downclimbing, jumping, bypassing), understand the risks with other options
  • rope jams - understand the issue with rope jams, and implement techniques to avoid
  • hypothermia - understand the signs of hypothermia and how to deal with it

The Next Information Night is on Wednesday 8 May 7.30 to 8.30pm

The Next Social Night - Dog Sledding in Sweden - is on Wednesday 15 May 7.30 to 9pm. 

New Members Information Nights are held every second Wednesday of the month upstairs at 16 Fitzroy Street Kirribilli, 7:30pm - 8:30 pm. Just turn up.  Social nights are held every third Wednesday of the month at the same place 7:30pm - 9 pm.  

Prospectives  can borrow gear for their first overnight Q walkContact gearofficer@sbw.org.au . Gear Loan Rules

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