Common Questions (FAQ)

The following is a list of common questions that many of our visitors ask us. If you have a question that isn’t here, just call your local gym:

1. If I’ve never climbed before, can I just drop in and start climbing on my own?

With the exception of the waiver form, there is no restriction for someone to just come in and climb. But in order to climb on the ropes someone will need to have a belayer who has passed our Belay Test or you can take our “Intro to Climbing” class first and you’ll build the necessary skills to pass our Belay Check and start climbing in the gym with confidence!

2. What is “belaying”?

Belaying is the act of managing a rope to protect a climber. The “belayer” is there to control the slack in the system, catch a climber if they fall, and lower them down when they’re finished climbing. It’s a crucial skill, and one of the first skills we teach in our “Intro to Climbing” class.

3. I don’t have anybody to belay for me today. Can a Vertical World staff member belay for me or my child?

Vertical World has staff available to belay with advance notice with our “Rock Climbing Experience”.

4. I want to learn how to climb but I don’t have a partner to take courses with me. Can I take classes on my own?

Absolutely! Vertical World offers a wide range of Classes and Programs that are designed to accommodate individuals and groups. Courses are a great place to meet potential climbing partners!

5. What are Vertical World’s requirements for passing the Belay Test?

A top-rope Belay Check must be passed prior to use of any top-rope or auto-belay systems at Vertical World (VW). The minimum age for the Belay-Check is 14. Customers are not allowed to rehearse, practice belay techniques, or climb prior to taking the belay test. The minimum requirement to take the Belay-Check is one of the following:  

  1. Previous real-life belaying experience  
  2. Completion of a Vertical World Introductory Class or other professional instruction  
  3. VW Head Instructor or Manager approval  

You must demonstrate proficiency and competency with the following skills:  

  1. Tying the rope to your harness correctly with a Figure-8 Follow-Through knot  
  2. Setting up and attaching a belay device to your harness in accordance with manufacturer recommendations and VW policy  
  3. Verbalize system check points for both climber and belayer  
  4. Use proper verbal belay signals  
  5. Demonstrate proficient rope handling with the belay system while maintaining control of the brake strand at all times  

Only VW staff can administer rock climbing instruction of any kind in the VW facility. 

Belay checks are valid for one year at all Vertical World gyms. 

While you must demonstrate the required skills competently without guidance, we encourage you to ask questions. Climbers are welcome to repeat the belay test if needed, but must wait a minimum of one day between attempts. If you do not pass the belay check you can still climb, but you won’t be able to belay or tie knots that day.

6. If I’m younger than 18, who can fill out my waiver?

All persons entering the gym must have a Vertical World waiver form on file. Climbers under 18 must have their waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian. All participants under the age of 18 must have their parent or court appointed legal guardian sign the waiver before they can climb. No exceptions to this policy can be made. You can sign the waiver online by clicking here

7. If I want to be able to start climbing outdoors on my own what courses should I take?

Participants without belay skills should take the Intro to Climbing course to gain the basic skills necessary to manage general climbing equipment, and learn basic technique. Vertical World offers various Outdoor Programs to help you transition into outdoor climbing. Please visit our Outdoor Programs page to learn more about our programs, or your local gym’s Calendar page for current offerings.

8. What clothing should I wear to climb at the Vertical World?

We advise wearing stretchy, loose fitting (but not baggy), comfortable clothing that you do not mind getting dirty with chalk. It is also important to keep in mind that Vertical World’s climbing walls and holds are textured to simulate real rock, and can sometimes snag clothing.

9. If I take the Belay Test at one VW location, does it transfer to the others?

Yes! You only need to pass the VW belay test once to be certified at all VW locations. Belay checks are valid for one year at all Vertical World gyms.

10. Isn’t climbing outdoors harder than climbing indoors?

Climbing outdoors on real rock is not necessarily any harder, it just has different challenges. Just like the climbs at Vertical World, outdoor climbing routes are given difficulty ratings so we can choose climbs that are within our own skill level.

11. What is bouldering?

Bouldering is a style of rock climbing undertaken without a rope and normally limited to very short climbs over a crash pad so that a fall will not result in serious injury. Bouldering emphasizes power, strength, and dynamics. Its focus is on individual moves or short sequences of moves, unlike roped climbing, which generally demands more endurance over longer routes where the difficulty of individual moves is not as great. Boulder routes are commonly referred to as problems (a British appellation) because the nature of the climb is often short, curious, and much like problem solving.

12. Can I go to any of the gyms just to boulder?

All locations have designated bouldering areas. You are also welcome to traverse and boulder in all areas of the gyms, so all mixed climbing walls have a clearly posted bouldering height limit.