Technical Skills


Gym Climbing Skills

Belay Check

This isn't our gym, but the skills we taught these climbers at GVSU allowed them to dominate their belay evaluation on our Spring Break trip!

Belay Lessons

This is the basic lesson for teaching the person on the ground (belayer) how to keep the climber safe in a top-rope setting.  After the lesson, participants will have the opportunity to be evaluated by the staff.  Upon passing the evaluation, participants will be approved to belay in our facility and be capable of operating in similar environments.

Frequency Offered:  Upon request at our open hours

Cost:  Varies with affiliation; FREE for GVSU Students

Format: 1-day, In-Person

Registration:  N/A

Additional Belay Lesson Details

You Might Also Like:  Intro to Indoor Climbing


Bouldering Class Spotting

Intro to Indoor Climbing

For GVSU students and staff who would like a more formal and private introduction to the equipment and techniques involved in indoor rock climbing.  This hands-on, small-group workshop will transform participants from having no knowledge about climbing to being able to independently gear up for a climb, plan an appropriate path, and efficiently move through it.  By the end of the workshop, participants should be confident in their ability to competently utilize the necessary protective equipment and techniques for climbing in our facility and similar environments.

Frequency Offered: 1 time per semester

Cost:  $15

Format: 1 day/ wk for 3 weeks, in-person

Registration:  Required - See our Events Calendar for current offerings

Additional Intro to Climbing Details


Indoor Lead Climbing

Indoor Lead Climbing

This is a comprehensive lesson for learning to sport lead in an indoor setting.  The regular format takes place over 2 days, generally consecutive Wednesdays or Sundays with occasional 1-day offerings.  The course includes instruction on both lead climbing and lead belaying.  Approval to lead climb after taking the course requires logging practice time and a separate evaluation.

Frequency Offered: 2-3 times per semester

Cost: Varies with affiliation

Format: 2-days (occasional 1-day offerings), in-person

Registration:  Required - See our Events Calendar for current offerings
*This course has pre-requisites. See additional details below.

Additional Lead Lesson Details

You Might Also Like: Gym to Crag: Sport Climbing, Top Rope Anchors


Skill Instruction Photo

Climbing Wall Instructor Certification

The Professional Climbing Instructor's Association (PCIA) Climbing Wall Instructor (CWI) Course provides climbers with an in-depth, standardized understanding of the skills essential to teaching climbing in an indoor setting. It is the first step in a sequential approach to professional climbing instructor development. The course emphasizes the presentation of sound fundamental skills to climbing gym participants, the formation of risk assessment and risk management skills, and basic problem solving skills such as belay transitions and on-wall coaching and assistance techniques. Participants are assessed on both their core climbing knowledge as well as their ability to effectively teach and coach related skills with professionalism.  Although this course utilizes the lens of indoor rock climbing, the knowledge is applicable for effective instruction of skills in any field. 
Starting Fall 2020, this certification will be required for all Climbing Center Shift Staff.

Frequency Offered: One time per semester

Cost: Varies by affiliation  ($60 for GVSU Students)

  • Audit Option:  Participants in this course have the option to audit the course for a reduced fee (all the knowledge but without the formal certification).  Use the Coupon Code: AUDIT to receive $40 off your registration fee.
  • Down payment option: Participants who would like to do a split-payment option may register with a down-payment equal to 50% of the total registration fee. The balance remaining will be due on the first day of the course.  Please email Joe Bitely; bitelyj@gvsu.edu prior to registration for a coupon code.

Format:  2.5 days (20 hours), In-person

Registration: Required - See our Events Calendar for current offerings
*This course has pre-requisites. See additional details below.

Additional CWI Details 


Outdoor Climbing Skills

Top rope anchor

Intro to Top Rope Anchors

This course is geared towards the gym climber with top-roping experience who is looking to make the move into outdoor climbing.  The skills presented will give climbers a foundation of anchor building knowledge that can be used in many climbing applications.  This course will focus on the equipment and techniques necessary to build a quality anchor, using natural protection at southwest Michigan's two most popular crags: the Ledges (Grand Ledge, MI) and Devil's Lake State Park (Baraboo, WI).  The former is a top-rope only site while the latter requires climbers to either setup a top-rope or to traditionally lead the climbs.  This course does not include placing traditional protection.

Frequency Offered: One time per semester

Cost: Varies with affiliation

Format: 1-day, Hybrid online/ in-person

Registration:  Required - See our Events Calendar for current offerings

Additional Top-Rope Anchor Details

You Might Also Like: Gym to Crag: Sport Climbing & Top Managed Systems

Online Content
Note: This content is password protected.  Registered participants will receive a username and password in the confirmation email.

Top Rope Anchors Module


Outdoor Lead Climb

Gym to Crag: Sport Climbing

This is an ideal workshop for climbers looking to take their lead climbing skills from a gym setting and apply them in a more adventurous environment.  Although there are aspects of lead climbing outdoors that will be the same as climbing indoors, there are a number of  important additional skills and considerations for climbing outdoors, where the environment is much less controlled.  Questions such as: How do I find the climb I want to do? How do I get all my gear back? What do I do if I can't make it to the top?  How do I get back down if lowering isn't allowed?  What can I do to make sure this crag remains awesome for years and years? and many others will all be answered in this workshop!

Frequency Offered: 1 time per semester

Cost: varies based on affiliation

Format:  1 day, in-person

Registration:  Required - see our Events Calendar for current offerings
* Prerequisite: lead climber

Additional Outdoor Sport Climbing Details

You Might Also Like: Top Managed Systems, Wilderness First Aid (or Wilderness First Responder)


Dry Ice Tools Photo

Intro to Ice Climbing

A perfect workshop for GVSU students who want to learn about the basics of ice climbing or who plan to attend the Munising ice climbing trip with us in February but have never climbed ice before.  The topics we'll cover include: basic equipment, clothing for cold weather activity, & basic technique for climbing water ice efficiently. 

Frequency Offered: Once per year (Winter semester)

Cost: $5

Format: 1 day, In-person.  Brief classroom portion followed with on-wall practice of the technique known as dry-tooling

Registration: Required - See our Events Calendar for current offerings

Additional Ice Climbing Details

You Might Also Like:  Michigan Ice Fest Trip (Munising, MI)


Top Managed Systems

Top Managed Systems (TMS)

This course introduces technical climbing systems implemented from the top of a climb such as found with some top-rope settings and also in multi-pitch climbing. It is designed to help build fundamental knowledge of technical climbing systems used for belaying, rappelling, anchoring, etc... Whether you are semi new to climbing, or have been sending routes for years, you are sure to pick up on some valuable knowledge to help you in the world of vertical pursuits!

Frequency Offered: Once per year (Fall Semester)

Cost:  Varies based on affiliation

Format:  1 day per week for 5-weeks, Hybrid online/ in-person. This workshop is broken up into five (5) distinct sections, or "Modules" to help you progress and incorporate new knowledge throughout the course. These modules will build on the previous week's material and are meant to be educational, interactive, and ultimately fun for you. Each week participants will be given access to a new online module.

Registration:  Required - See our Events Calendar for current offerings.  Participants in Top Managed Systems (TMS) will be contacted with a username & password necessary for accessing the content below.  Each module will become active 1 week prior to the in-person meeting for that module & will remain active for the duration of the course

Additional TMS Details

You Might Also Like: Self-Rescue

Online Content
Note: Links to content are date-sensitive and will only work during a TMS course.

TMS Introduction     Module 1     Module 2     Module 3     Module 4     Module 5     


Self Rescue

Self-Rescue (SR)

Climbing is inherently dangerous.  Eventually, something won't go as expected and your level of preparedness could be the difference between an ordeal & an adventure.  This hybrid course further builds on the material from Top Managed Systems to give climbers important tools for dealing with a variety of unintended situations where simply lowering the climber to the ground is not an option.  

Frequency Offered: Once per year (Winter semester)

Cost: Varies by affiliation

Format: 1 day per week for 5-weeks, Hybrid online/ in-person. This workshop is broken up into five (5) distinct sections, or "Modules" to help you progress and incorporate new knowledge throughout the course. These modules will build on the previous week's material and are meant to be educational, interactive, and ultimately fun for you. Each week participants will be given access to a new online module.

Registration:  Required - See our Events Calendar for current offerings.  Participants in Self-Rescue (SR) will be contacted with a username & password necessary for accessing the content below.  Each module will become active 1 week prior to the in-person meeting for that module & will remain active for the duration of the course.
* Pre-requisite: Top Managed Systems

Additional Self-Rescue Details

You Might Also Like: Wilderness First Aid (or Wilderness First Responder)

Online Content
Note: Links to content are date-sensitive and will only work during a SR course.

Self-Rescue Introduction   Module 1   Module 2   Module 3   Module 4   Module 5