Team Building on a Traverse Wall™ with Partner Climbing

Team Building on a Traverse Wall™ with Partner Climbing

Climbing on a Traverse Wall® is a great way to enhance team building skills with youth. One way to integrate this into your program is with climbing activities that utilize partnerships or small groups. You can reference our past blog post for three great climbing wall activities that focus on team building. There’s also a way to replicate this, even if the activity isn’t originally set up for pairs, with partner climbing.

Partner Climbing

For partner climbing, you have one person climbing and the partner following along on the safety mats, close enough so the two can hear each other, but far enough that the climber can’t fall on the partner. The partner is not a spotter. Rather, the partner is there for verbal support. The partner reminds the climber of the safety rules, like keeping feet below the Red-Relief® Line and no jumping off the wall. The partner also helps the climber follow the rules of the activity and offers word of encouragement and motivation. The partner can provide help, if needed, in the form of suggestions of holds to use or strategies to try. After a certain number of turns, or at the completion of the traverse, partners switch roles.  Partner climbing is a great way for participants to communicate, support each other and bond. It has the added bonus of doubling the number of participants in your activities. Download this poster that you can post near the climbing wall to remind your climbers how to partner climb. Try partner climbing with the On Thin Ice activity that follows.

Girl rock climbing while avoiding areas of "thin ice" obstacles

On Thin Ice

Grade Level: 2 and up

Materials: Bungee cords, string or tape (preferably Gaffers’ tape)

Advance Prep: Use bungee cords, string or tape to mark off areas that will be “thin ice,” or areas that cannot be used for climbing. The cords and string can be wrapped around several holds to create the imaginary areas of challenge. Keep safety in mind as you space the areas so that there are clear opportunities for climbers to climb above, under and around thin ice to get from one side of the climbing wall to the other.

Activity: Climbers are challenged to avoid areas of “thin ice” on the climbing wall. This activity brings some new challenges to the climbing wall by “eliminating” some of the holds from use by climbers. As they climb, climbers must abide by these rules:

  • The climber’s feet/hands/body cannot touch, or pass over, any part of thin ice (border and interior space).
  • Regular climbing wall safety rules still apply.
  • If the climber breaks any rule, s/he must return to the starting point and try again.

Variation: It’s Opposite Day! Now try climbing ONLY using areas of thin ice. This will likely require adding more thin ice or giving people three strikes, or three times, to use any part of the wall.

Teaching Tip: Encourage participants to climb more slowly than usual since this activity requires additional problem solving and possibly new body positioning.

National Standards: 1,2,3,4 & 5

Grade-Level Outcomes: 

  • Nonlocomotor (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)


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