What Goes Up Must Come Down, Safely

Girl Climbing Wall

With the increasing number of climbing walls making their way into gymnastics facilities, it is important to establish safety protocols that will keep the participants injury free.


Markel's Safety Guide, Challenge Courses and Climbing Walls, offers the following tips for safe climbing wall activities:

  • Train staff to be constantly vigilant and alert. Spotters are the primary means for protecting participants on climbing walls.
  • Always provide proper supervision.
  • Rotate staff positions frequently, including the supervisor, to prevent fatigue.
  • Never use staff-modified (home-made) equipment.
  • If you install a climbing wall, use a contractor certified to construct climbing walls. If you do not, you must have your wall inspected by an organization certified to inspect climbing walls. Verify that the contractors have adequate insurance coverage before having them build a climbing wall.
  • Mats should extend a minimum of 8 feet from the base of the climbing wall and 4 feet from the sides for adequate zone protection. Use base mats that are a minimum 12 inches thick.
  • If the wall extends over your foam pit, be sure the edges of the pit are protected with matting.
  • Any climbing wall higher than 10 feet must have a belay system for added safety. If you use an auto-belay system, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to the letter.
Girl Climbing Wall
This document is intended for general information purposes only, and should not be construed as advice or opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. The content of this document is made available on an “as is” basis, without warranty of any kind. This document can’t be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedures or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. Markel does not guarantee that this information is or can be relied on for compliance with any law or regulation, assurance against preventable losses, or freedom from legal liability. This publication is not intended to be legal, underwriting, or any other type of professional advice. Persons requiring advice should consult an independent adviser. Markel does not guarantee any particular outcome and makes no commitment to update any information herein, or remove any items that are no longer accurate or complete. Furthermore, Markel does not assume any liability to any person or organization for loss of damage caused by or resulting from any reliance placed on that content.

*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.
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