NOTICE OF SUPERVISION REQUIREMENTS FOR AUTO BELAY DEVICES

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CWA

This was sent to us from Climbing Wall Association on April 9, 2021.


The CWA has been monitoring a recent lawsuit that reinforces the importance of reading and understanding manufacturer’s instructions for the use and operation of equipment in climbing gyms. The case, Vandivere vs. Vertical World is currently ongoing in Washington.

The proceedings of this case involve several factors, including statements about supervision found in the operating manual for the Perfect Descent 220 and 230 auto belay models.

One allegation is that the operator did not follow the Perfect Descent operating manual, which requires all facilities to keep climbers under “constant supervision by a trained operator.” The manual further states that prior to ascending a wall “operators must check to verify that each climber has: Properly fitted and secured climbing harness; Properly clipped their harness onto the Perfect Descent Climbing System carabiner.”

The sport of indoor climbing requires access to equipment, such as auto belays, by users who have been oriented by the climbing facility. The CWA provides a sample auto belay orientation for climbing facilities in the Industry Practices Sourcebook. Auto belay orientations should communicate the use and limitations of auto belays and the inherent risks of climbing prior to being allowed to use any equipment without assistance or direct supervision.

The CWA has reached out to Perfect Descent to provide clarification on the supervision requirements in the Perfect Descent operating manual and where to find guidance for your auto belay policies. They recognize that the CWA Industry Practices are a reasonable standard for risk management when the operator administers an auto belay orientation. Perfect Descent recommends that operators follow the CWA’s guidelines while the 220 and 230 operating manuals are evaluated. Please read through the statement from Perfect Descent for more information.

We encourage you to take this opportunity to review your policies and procedures and to make sure you read and understand manufacturer’s instructions and usage limitations for equipment used in your facility. If you have questions about the use and operation of equipment, always contact the manufacturer for clarification.

For questions or comments, please contact Garnet Moore (garnet@cwapro.org) at the CWA, or Perfect Descent (info@perfectdescent.com).