Back-to-Basics Series: Traverse Wall® Safety Rules & Day 1 Activities

Back-to-Basics Series: Traverse Wall® Safety Rules & Day 1 Activities

We are featuring a Back-to-Basics Series for our weekly blog posts during the month of November. These posts are ideal for those with new climbing programs or new climbing instructors. They’re also great refreshers for experienced instructors, or those in need of some retraining.

Traverse Wall® Safety Rules

It is important to start off right. Before you have any climbers participate in your climbing program you should establish, teach and enforce safety rules.  We recommend the following rules:

  • Climbers must be always supervised
  • Climbers must be in athletic attire and not wearing jewelry
  • Climbers must keep their feet below the Red-Relief® Line or predetermined maximum height
  • Climbers may not climb over, under or around another climber
  • Climbers should climb down when ending their climb – no jumping
  • Climbers should quickly leave the mats when finished climbing

The rules should be clearly communicated to climbers and checked for understanding. Frequent reminders and enforcement of the rules is a critical part of a safe and rewarding climbing program.  A rules sign should also be posted near the climbing wall.

Additionally, all supervisors need to be trained on the rules, as well as use of the climbing wall and its component parts, before they can supervise.

Climbing Wall Safety Sign

Here are two beginner climbing activities that help climbers get a feel for the climbing wall and develop confidence. They make great day one climbing wall activities and open the door to trying new climbing wall activities.

Welcome to the Wall

Children are introduced to the Traverse Wall® through a simulated climb.

Grade Level: PreK and up


  • Poly Spots or marks made from tape, enough to place 3-4 in front of each 4-foot wide climbing wall panel

Advance Set Up: 

Place Poly Spots or marks on safety mats, about 8 inches away from the climbing wall and one footstep away from each other.


This activity is designed to introduce the Traverse Wall® in a nonthreatening manner. By using this activity as a starting point, you will reduce the anxiety that some participants may feel about climbing. Be sure participants understand they are not climbing during this activity.

Position one participant in front of, and facing, the first panel of the Traverse Wall®. The rest of the group should line up at the start of the wall to create a line of people that can move along the the climbing wall when space becomes available. All at one time, all participants should walk slowly in front of the wall, moving in the same direction, using only their hands on the hand holds and their feet on the spots on the floor. They should maintain at least an arm’s length of space between each other. They should feel the holds and pick ones they would use if they were actually climbing. They should pretend the spots on the floors are the holds for their feet and step on them. Have participants travel across the front of the Traverse Wall® two or three times in this simulated climb.


After several simulated traverses, discuss this experience.

  • What did they notice about the climbing wall, holds, etc.  
  • What holds and spots did they use? Why?
  • Invite participants to share some words to describe what they think it will be like to climb on the Traverse Wall®.

They are now ready to learn the rules of the climbing wall and to begin climbing.

National Standards: 1,2,3,4 & 5

Grade-Level Outcomes: 

  • Non-locomotor (S1.E7, S1.E8, S1.E10)
  • Movement concepts (S2.E1, S2.E2)
  • Engages in physical activity (S3.E2, S3.M3, S3.M4, S3.M5)
  • Personal responsibility (S4.E1, S4.E2, S4.M1, S4.M2)
  • Rules & etiquette (S4.E5, S4.M5, S4.M6)
  • Safety (S4.E6, S4.M7)
  • Challenge (S5.E2, S5.M3)

 Children doing a simulated climb to get used to the climbing wall

Ups and Downs

Participants demonstrate the ability to safely climb up and climb down one panel on the Traverse Wall®.

Grade Level: K and up

Materials: None

Advance Set Up: None


This activity is intended to further acclimate participants to the climbing wall. It allows them to become familiar with the feel of the hand holds and the wall and to learn to hold their own body weight using four points of contact as they climb up and down. They also demonstrate following safety rules.

Have as many participants as possible face the climbing wall, one per panel. The other participants should form equal-sized lines at the end of the mats facing the climbing wall.

First, have participants in front of the climbing wall put their hands on the mat at the base of the wall. Have them walk their hands up the wall, touching every hand hold in their space as far as the red line. Then have them touch all of the holds as they work their way back down the mat.

Next, have participants put their hands up the wall as far as they can reach, touching every hold along the way. Then have them touch all the holds again as they work their hands back down the mat. Repeat 2-4 times, depending on the skill level/experience of the class.

Allow turns for those waiting in line.

Next, have participants include their feet. Have them climb up so their feet are at the red safety line, or predetermined maximum height. Have them reach the highest hand hold they can without stepping above the red line. Then have them climb back down. For safety reasons, participants should step off the wall and onto the mats without jumping. This is an excellent activity for reinforcing that safety rule. Repeat 2-4 times, depending on the skill level/experience of the class.

Allow turns for those waiting in line.

National Standards: 1,2,3 & 4

Grade-Level Outcomes: 

  • Non-locomotor (S1.E7, S1.E8, S1.E10)
  • Engages in physical activity (S3.E2, S3.M3, S3.M4, S3.M5)
  • Personal Responsibility (S4.E1, S4.E2, S4.M1, S4.M2)
  • Rules & Etiquette (S4.E5, S4.M5, S4.M6)
  • Safety (S4.E6, S4.M7)


At the completion of the activity, spend a few minutes discussing the experience.

  • Discuss observations.
  • What was challenging? What was fun?
  • How do you feel about trying new climbing wall activities?
  • Were any rules hard to follow or remember? Which ones? Why? What can we do to remember them?
  • Privately, address any areas of concern and/or provide individual feedback.

 Children climbing on a traverse wall


Leave a comment