Teaching Ground School

Putting on Climbing Equipment

We use Fudge/Misty/Bluewater harnesses with a simple Swiss seat design at Durant. This style is one of the most widely used program harnesses in the world and fits small children up to large adults.

  1. Spread a tarp out on the ground and set out one harness and one helmet for each participant. If this is for the COPE high course, also set out one lobster claw set for each participant.
  2. Instructions to provide these instructions to the participants: (Also see video)
  • Pick up the harness, with the metal buckle in the right hand.

  • Step into the leg loops and pull the loops up, high on the thigh.

  • Tighten each leg loop using the slider buckles so that the harness stays in place without needing to be held up. The leg loops don't need to be uncomfortably tight - you should be able to comfortably slip two fingers under the leg loop.

  • Take the non-buckled strap and wrap it around your waist. Following the direction from the leg loop (it’ll go around your waist to the left). Each time the strap crosses your front, you must pass it through the blue or black belay/rappel loop.

  • Take the metal buckle strap and pass it around your waist, also following the direction from the leg loop (around your waist to the right) , pulling it through the blue loop each time you cross your front.

  • Holding the metal buckle in your hand, feed the end of the other strap through like a belt and tighten it down so that the harness feels snug around your waist but not uncomfortable. You must have at least 6 inches of strap extending from the buckle. If you don't have enough strap left over, unwind the non-buckle strap from around your waist one time and then feed it back through the buckle and tighten. It's fine to have quite a bit of length left over.

  • Now you want to 'lock' the buckle in place. Fold the strap back towards the buckle. Take the end of the strap and feed it through the buckle in reverse so that you cover the word DANGER on one side of the buckle. Pull the strap snug and tuck the remaining length into a pocket or into the straps around your waist.  There should be at minimum 3 inches of strap that passes through the buckle when you “double back”

  • Now you want to create the 'seat' of the harness. Take the thin strap (aka butt floss or rat tail) hanging from the left leg in the back and feed it up under all the webbing at the back of the waist. Bring the strap back down and click it into the plastic buckle on the right leg. Slide the strap on the leg loops (if movable) to evenly locate the straps on both legs. This strap creates the "seat" for a climber during a fall, during rappelling, or when being lowered after a climb.   

  1. At the end of the climbing/COPE activity, ask participants to place their equipment back onto the tarp so the facilitator can quickly conduct an equipment inventory.

Helmets protect the head from falling objects.  As such, they should cover the head and not be cocked back.  Helmets should be snug on the head – there is an adjustment mechanism usually in the rear of the headband.  The chin straps will also adjust, to allow the helmet to fit snuggly but not chokingly tight.  Helmets should have some play but should not be so loose as to “wiggle” on the head.

Lobster Claws (for COPE only)
The lobster claws consist of one rope, with a carabiner at either end, and a Figure 8 On A Bight in the middle.  These lobster claws are stored with the carabiners clipped to the bight.  

  • Unclip the carabiners and ask the participant to hold the setup so that the bight is in one hand with the two carabiners dangling down.
  • Take the bight and place it under both lower and upper strap webbing at the belay loop on the harness.  The bight should be at the top of the webbing - the knot should not go under the webbing.  
  • Insert both carabiners and ropes through the bight.
  • Pull up on both ropes, taking out slack in the bight.  The knot should go through the bight, ending up above the bight, above the top webbing of the harness.