BSA Supply No. 35873

Climbing is not a sport that requires tremendous muscular strength; it demands mental toughness and the willingness to practice hard to master a set of skills. The adventure of climbing can also provide a new way to enjoy the outdoors.


  1. Do the following:
    • Show that you know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur during climbing activities, including heat and cold reactions, dehydration, stopped breathing, sprains, abrasions, fractures, rope burns, blisters, snakebite, and insect bites or stings.
    • Identify the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person.
  2. Learn the Leave No Trace principles and Outdoor Code, and explain what they mean.
  3. Present yourself properly dressed for belaying, climbing, and rappelling (i.e., appropriate clothing, footwear, and a helmet; rappellers and belayers must also wear gloves).
  4. Location. Do the following:
    • Explain how the difficulty of climbs is classified, and apply classifications to the rock faces or walls where you will demonstrate your climbing skills.
    • Explain the following: top-rope climbing, lead climbing, and bouldering.
    • Evaluate the safety of a particular climbing area. Consider weather, visibility, the condition of the climbing surface, and any other environmental hazards.
    • Determine how to summon aid to the climbing area in case of an emergency.
  5. Verbal signals. Explain the importance of using verbal signals during every climb and rappel, and while bouldering. With the help of the merit badge counselor or another Scout, demonstrate the verbal signals used by each of the following:
    • Climbers
    • Rappellers
    • Belayers
    • Boulderers and their spotters
  6. Rope. Do the following:
    • Describe the kinds of rope acceptable for use in climbing and rappelling.
    • Show how to examine a rope for signs of wear or damage.
    • Discuss ways to prevent a rope from being damaged.
    • Explain when and how a rope should be retired.
    • Properly coil a rope.
  7. Knots. Demonstrate the ability to tie each of the following knots. Give at least one example of how each knot is used in belaying, climbing, or rappelling.
    • Figure eight on a bight
    • Figure eight follow-through
    • Water knot
    • Double fisherman’s knot (grapevine knot)
    • Safety knot
  8. Harnesses. Correctly put on at least ONE of the following:
    • Commercially made climbing harness
    • Tied harness
  9. Belaying. Do the following:
    • Explain the importance of belaying climbers and rappellers and when it is necessary.
    • Belay three different climbers ascending a rock face or climbing wall.
    • Belay three different rappellers descending a rock face or climbing wall using a top rope.
  10. Climbing. Do the following:
    • Show the correct way to directly tie into a belay rope.
    • Climb at least three different routes on a rock face or climbing wall, demonstrating good technique and using verbal signals with a belayer.
  11. Rappelling. Do the following:
    • Using a carabiner and a rappel device, secure your climbing harness to a rappel rope.
    • Tie in to a belay rope set up to protect rappellers.
    • Rappel down three different rock faces or three rappel routes on a climbing wall. Use verbal signals to communicate with a belayer, and demonstrate good rappelling technique.
  12. Demonstrate ways to store rope, hardware, and other gear used for climbing, rappelling, and belaying.


Scouting Literature

Boy Scout Handbook, Project COPE manual, Climb On Safely, Topping Out: A BSA Climbing/Rappelling Manual, and Passport to High Adventure.

Instruction and Guidebooks

  • Allen, Linda B. High Mountain Challenge: A Guide for Young Mountaineers. AMC Books, 1989.
  • Burbach, Matt. Gym Climbing: Maximizing Your Indoor Experience. Mountaineers Books, 2004.
  • Cox, Steven, and Kris Fulsaas, eds. Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 7th ed. Mountaineers, 2003.
  • Fawcett, Ron, et al. The Climber’s Handbook: Rock, Ice, Alpine, Expeditions. Sierra Club, 1987.
  • Lewis, S. Peter. Climbing: From Gym to Crag, Building Skills for Real Rock. Mountaineers, 2000.
  • Long, John. How to Rock Climb! Globe Pequot Press, 2004.
  • ——. Climbing Anchors. Chockstone Press, 1993.
  • Loughman, Michael. Learning to Rock Climb. Random House, 1982.
  • Luebben, Craig. Knots for Climbers. Falcon, 2002.
  • ——. Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills. Mountaineers, 2004.
  • Mellor, Don. Rock Climbing: A Trailside Guide. W. W. Norton, 1997.
  • Roper, Steve, and Allen Steck. Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. Sierra Club, 1996.
  • Sherman, John. How to Rock Climb: Better Bouldering, 2nd ed. Falcon, 1997.
  • Skinner, Todd, and John McMullen. Modern Rock Climbing: Beyond the Basics. ICS Books, 1993.
  • Takeda, Pete. Extreme Sports: Climb. National Geographic, 2002.
  • Toula, Tim. Rock ‘N’ Road: An Atlas of North American Rock Climbing Areas, 2nd ed. Falcon, 2003.
  • Voeller, Edward A. Sport Climbing. Capstone Books, 2000.
  • Wilkerson, James A., ed. Medicine for Mountaineering and Other Wilderness Activities, 5th ed. Mountaineers, 2001.

History and Biography

  • Bonington, Chris. Mountaineer: Thirty Years of Climbing on the World’s Great Peaks. Sierra Club, 1996.
  • Curran, Jim. K2: Triumph and Tragedy. Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
  • Fraser, Mary Ann. On Top of the World: The Conquest of Mount Everest. Henry Holt, 1991.
  • Jones, Chris. Climbing in North America. Mountaineers Books, 1997.
  • Krakauer, Jon. Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains. Anchor Books, 1997.
  • ——. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster. Anchor Books, 1998.
  • MacDonald, Dougald, ed. The Best of Rock and Ice: An Anthology. Mountaineers Books, 1999.
  • Messner, Reinhold. The Crystal Horizon: Everest–The First Solo Ascent. Mountaineers Books, 1998.
  • Rosen, Mike. The Conquest of Everest. Bookwright Press, 1990.
  • Sherman, John. Stone Crusade: A Historical Guide to Bouldering in America. American Alpine Club, 1994.
  • Weihenmayer, Erik. Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man’s Journey to Climb Farther Than the Eye Can See: My Story. Plume, 2001.
  • Whittaker, Jim. A Life on the Edge: Memoirs of Everest and Beyond. The Mountaineers, 1999.