Youth Belay and Lead Policies

Belaying is an action that requires attention and skill. We have established a set of policies regarding belaying and leading certification for youth under 14. Participants in the youth clubs or members of Team Ascent may be cleared to belay and lead climb within the program, if they demonstrate the appropriate level of competence and attentiveness.

 Top Rope BelayingLead ClimbingLead Belaying
Ages 8 and under

  • We do not allow children under the age of 8 to Top Rope Belay.


  • We do not allow children under the age of 8 to Lead Climb.


  • We do not allow children under the age of 8 to Lead Belay.

Ages 8-11

  • Children ages 8-11 must pass 3 consecutive Top Rope tests, administered on separate days.

  • With the recommendation of a known climbing coach, the number of required tests may be reduced to one.


  • Children ages 8-11 will only be permitted to lead climb with the recommendation of a known climbing coach, in the context of an organized program such as a camp, clinic, comp, or practice.


  • Children ages 8-11 will not be permitted to lead belay outside the scope of the Ascent Studio Youth Instructional Program.

Ages 12-13

  • Children ages 12-13 must pass one Top Rope test.


  • Children ages 12-13 must pass 3 consecutive Lead Climbing tests, administered on separate days.

  • With the recommendation of a known climbing coach, the number of required tests may be reduced to one.


  • Children ages 12-13 must pass 3 consecutive Lead Belaying tests, administered on separate days.

  • With the recommendation of a known climbing coach, the number of required tests may be reduced to one.

  • For youth under 14, a parent or guardian MUST be present during the administration of any Top Rope Belay, Lead Climb, or Lead Belay test.
  • A child under the age of 14 who is Top Rope Belaying, Lead Climbing, or Lead Belaying MUST be directly supervised at all times by an adult who holds an equal or greater level of certification. Direct supervision is defined as on the ground, within sight and sound of the youth belayer/climber.
  • All children under the age of 14 MUST use an assisted-braking belay device, such as the following:
    • Petzl GriGri 1, 2, or Plus
    • Edelrid MegaJul, MegaJul Sport, Jul 2, or Eddy
    • Black Diamond ATC Pilot
    • Mad Rock Lifeguard
    • Trango Vergo or Cinch
    • Climb Tech ClickUp or ClickUp +
    • Mammut Smart or Smart 2.0
  • Youth qualifications for Top Rope Belay, Lead Climb, and Lead Belay may be revoked at any time, by any Ascent Studio staff member.
    • Failure to adhere to perfect technique and safety protocols will result in revocation.
    • Failure to adhere to gym policies will result in revocation.
    • Revoked youth qualifications may be reinstated following the policies outlined above.