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For beginning climbers (everyone up through Climbing MB), it is important to keep things simple and consistent. For this group, Troop 8 standardizes on certain techniques and equipment. This helps learning by not adding too many variables when kids aren’t ready for them, and gets them to actually climbing more quickly, while enhancing safety.
For belaying, we standardize on the stich plate with spring or ATC. For rappelling, we standardize on the carabiner brake. We use standard commercial alpine harnesses. We’ve found these to be effective and easy to teach, but other units may choose to use a different standard. What’s important is that you keep it simple. Later in the progression, when individual skills are better developed, we allow and teach other variants.
[outside units should be aware that there were some deliberations over rappel standardization. In general, the ATC-style devices offered smoother ride with less friction, but for beginners, the higher friction is actually helpful and reassuring. Figure 8’s have a unique and dangerous failure mode, in that any cross-loading or rope twist will cause the 8 to spin in the locking ‘biner and load the biner gate. If the biner gate is not fully locked, the loaded gate can release the entire rappel device. We teach these other rappel techniques to intermediate climbers, after they are comfortable on rappels with carabiner brakes.]
For climbing-focused high adventure activities, we go further and encourage scouts to have their own personal gear consisting of harness, helmet, shoes, belay carabiner and belay device with which they become familiar. Specialty higher level trips will include prusik ascenders, a cordalette, webbing for an autoblock, a small set of personal carabiners, etc. as part of the personal gear set.