Level II Second Competency

So, you’ve mastered the top roping arena have you? Could you set-up a bombproof anchor if we gave you a meager selection of nuts and cams? Expertly assess a new
top roping site for safety, access, anchors, and routes? Climb solidly, smoothly, and in control on intermediate ground? Good. That’s only a partial list, but you sound like you really are ready to start on the path to the next competency level — becoming a competent second. This is not a job to be taken lightly‚ once you become the leader you’ll appreciate this statement even more.

The focus of the seconding continuum is to assist a client through the process of becoming a competent “second” to a lead climber. The specific courses that address each benchmark along the second continuum are highlighted below. Clients may start at any point along the continuum depending upon their experience and mastery of the skills outlined in the Second Competency Objectives.

Second Competency Continuum

See where you fit in to the continuum, then select the appropriate course.

Tricks of the Trade. Give your leader confidence that your belay can be trusted, stuck gear can be retrieved, and that you can hold up your end of the bargain. Learn seconding skills like how to climb with a pack, aid through difficult sections, and follow pendulums and traverses. Course 7

The leader’s hurt. Don’t shake in your boots,  learn some of the solutions. Course 8


Climb, Climb, Climb. Sound familiar? It’s now up to you to log a ton of mileage following a solid leader, mastering your seconding skills and observing him or her deal with life on the sharp end. Take plenty of notes “soon enough, that’ll be you up there pilgrim.”

Second Competency Objectives

Listed below are the specific skills and knowledge you should acquire to become  ”second competent”  all of the items listed are covered in the Second Competency curriculum. If you already have some seconding knowledge and skills, use this list to identify gaps in your learning  then let us know and we’ll customize any of our courses to fit your particular needs.

  1. Understand the difference between top roping and multi-pitch
  2. Know how to properly approach a day at the crag (how to
    plan for the unexpected).
  3. Know how to read a guidebook/topo.
  4. Develop basic route finding skills.
  5. Know what constitutes a solid belay on a multi-pitch route.
  6. Understand the fall factor and what happens in a lead
  7. Be able to provide a smooth, competent belay to the leader
    using an ATC.
  8. Know when (and when not) to use a GriGri for belaying
    the leader and how to use it properly.
  9. Know how to belay a leader with a Munter Hitch.
  10. Know how to tie and when to use the figure eight on a
    bight and the clove hitch.
  11. Stance management: know how to keep the rope and the gear
    organized and how to be as comfortable as possible (including
    on small stances and at hanging belays).
  12. Know how a second can assist the leader to see gear placements
    and avoid route-finding errors. Know when to offer words
    of encouragement and when to shut up!
  13. Know the signals (verbal and non-verbal) used in a multi-pitch
    environment (including potential dangers).
  14. Gear removal, know what to do when things get stuck.
  15. Know how to efficiently re-rack gear (including double-length
    slings, cordellettes).
  16. Know how to aid through difficult sections.
  17. Know how to follow a traverse.
  18. Know how to follow a pendulum.
  19. Know how to climb with a pack.
  20. Rappelling ‚ be skilled with pre-rigged rappels,
    auto block and fireman back-ups, cow’s tails, daisies,
    multiple rappels, and how to rappel in a storm, and with
    an injured partner.
  21. Develop basic self-rescue skills (like ascending a rope,
    escaping a belay, and rappelling with an injured partner).
  22. Know how to choose an ideal, competent partner.
  23. Know what resources exist for learning more.
  24. Understand what’s the next step in the progression.


Second Competency:  Course Descriptions

Course 7
Seconding I
Course Length: 8 hours
When:   Daily by appointment
Maximum Ratio:   4:1
This course starts to build the foundation of knowledge and skills that you will need
to be a competent second to a lead climber on multi-pitch “trad” routes. Belaying the leader, belay stance management, gear removal and racking, multiple rappels are
all covered in detail.
Please call for pricing, scheduling and pre-course details.



Seconding II
Course Length: 8 hours
When:   Daily by appointment
Maximum Ratio:   4:1
This course expands upon the material covered in SI and includes additional content
that you will need to be a competent second to a lead climber on multi-pitch routes. Aiding through difficult sections, following traverses and pendulums, climbing with a pack, more on multiple rappels all are covered in detail. By the end, you should be ready to follow a competent leader with skill and confidence.
Please call for pricing, scheduling and pre-course details.



Course 8
Basic Self Rescue
Course Length: Two days (8 hours each)
When:   By appointment
Maximum Ratio:   4:1
You’re seconding an overhanging pitch and fall off, swinging out into space with no chance to get back to the rock. What to do? Learn some basic skills to help you in situations like this and many others so you are prepared for the unexpected.
Please call for pricing, scheduling and pre-course details.