Friday, July 13, 2018

Singapore National Climbing Standards {SNCS} Level 1 Certificate Course Experience

I had my first taste of rock-climbing back in University while the boy and I were studying in Australia. That was about 15 years ago?? Wow.

Back then, one of our friends, Felix, found a nice indoor rock-climbing place at Northbridge and introduced the sport to us. Sometimes we went as a group, other times the boy and I went just as a couple thing. We both found it fun and went pretty regularly. The boy was so into it that he soon bought his own shoes, harness, chalk bag etc haha...

At that rock-climbing gym, we didn't need to have any certification to help belay one another - just had to learn how to do it with the easy-to-use safety set-ups, much like the ones you see in Climb Central.

However, when we came back to Singapore, we realised that in most rock-climbing gyms, you need to have at least Singapore National Climbing Standards {SNCS} Level 1 Certificate to belay and climb. Especially if you want to climb outdoors.

Since we didn't do it regularly anymore, and also since the boy injured his shoulders which meant that he doesn't do it at all for now, we made do with just going to those gyms like Climb Central or Clip 'N Climb where there was auto-belay walls where Lil Pumpkin & I could climb on our own, and set-ups where I could help Lil Pumpkin belay even if I didn't have the SNCS L1 Cert.

よーし!I get an immense sense of satisfaction from overcoming the challenges of scaling the tall walls ( ᐛ )و

It's not just challenging physically, but also mentally as well as you need the mental endurance to not give up even when you're tired and stuck, and mental alertness to problem-solve and plan your best route to get to the top.

As a sport, it also promotes muscular strength and aerobic endurance too so it complements my gym training as well. Superman says it's a good activity for me to burn more calories and if I do it more often, my grip strength will definitely get better haha..

Last month, I finally got off my arse and went for the SNCS L1 Certificate course so that I could belay and climb more independently in more of the local rock-climbing gyms with some other friends who are interested in rock-climbing as well °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

Here's what to expect in case you're interested in doing it yourself...

SNCS Level 1 is a beginner’s introduction to climbing. No prior climbing experience is required, but it is of course good to have climbed before so that you have a better understanding of what the instructor's are saying.

This is a top-rope certification course {7hrs full day session with 1 lunch break, or 2 x 3.5hrs half-day sessions}. It will introduce you to the basics of the sport - such as equipment, checking procedures, and climbing calls, but the main objective is to teach you how to:
  1. safely use a harness, rope and belay device,
  2. tie a figure-of-8 knot, and 
  3. belay a climber using the 5-step belay technique
As you can see from the syllabus, the course will go through 7 sections of basic climbing where participants will learn:
  1. what sport-climbing {top-rope and bouldering} is,
  2. the correct usage, proper care & limitations of climbing safety equipment,
  3. basic climbing safety knots,
  4. how to safely belay a climber using the 5-step belay technique, 
  5. basic climbing techniques,
  6. practical top-rope climbing, and
  7. final assessment and course review
Note: You need to be 13 years or older to take the course, so unfortunately Lil Pumpkin couldn't do it with me now. She'll have to wait a few more years, and participants under 21 must have a guardian of over 21 to sign on their behalf.

The SNCS Level 1 Certificate Course is standardised and conducted by most of the popular rock-climbing gyms in Singapore e.g. Kinetics, Onsight Climbing, Gorilla Gym, The Rock School etc. by Singapore Mountaineering Federation certified instructors. You can go over to their websites to have a look at their course schedules but they are usually conducted every month over the weekends.

The course costs about S$65-75 and is usually cheaper if you are a gym member.

If you pass the course, you would be issued with the life-long SNCS Sport Climbing Level 1 certificate {card-sized}, accredited by the Singapore Mountaineering Federation.

There's no need for any renewal and after that, you can go on to take the Level 2 {learn how to lead climb and lead belay} and Level 3 {learn techniques of climbing bolted multi-pitch routes safely}.

But that's not the end though...

Some gyms also require you to be further verified to use their premises even if you do have a SNCS Level 1 certificate. Maybe they don't trust it?? haha..

During the SNCS Level 1 course, you will learn how to belay using an ATC {Air Traffic Controller} belay device. However, if you wish to belay using a belay device attached to your harness and climb at Ground Up, Climb Central & Onsight Climbing premises, you need to know how to belay using an ABD {Assisted Breaking Device} belay device as they only allow those belay devices there.

Sooooo... if you wish to climb at those 3 popular gyms, you will need to be ABD verified after you receive your SNCS Level 1 cert. This requires further assessment and costs S$10/pax. After passing verification, you will receive a Verification tag that is recognised at Ground Up, Climb Central & Onsight Climbing as the test requirements are the same.

In Gorilla Gym, you can use either an ATC or ABD belay device, but you still need to be verified that you have the skills and competency to climb & belay and pass to be issued the Verification tag. The verification assessment is free and can be done on-the-spot though.

If you pay attention to what's taught during the course day, it should be easy to pass (*^▽^)/

I won't say exactly where I took my SNCS Level 1 course as I reckon it could have been conducted better so won't recommend it to others. Although the instructors were friendly and we had adequate practice time, instructions on how to tie the figure-of-8 knot was a little sketchy and they didn't touch on different types of climbing and basic climbing techniques.

I mean, I already kinda knew how to rock-climb {albeit inefficiently?? haha} and had also tried bouldering before, but there were people in my class who had no rock-climbing experience. Since it's in the syllabus {but not tested}, would have been good to have been taught about the effective use of handholds & footholds, and perhaps tips on how to overcome different wall configurations.

Also, although the cost of the course was supposed to cover equipment rental cost, we were only loaned the harness and belay devices and we didn't get to climb with proper climbing shoes - just our own covered shoes. I think courses conducted at other gyms let you use their harnesses, belay devices and climbing shoes. 

I would have also liked if they touched on where you can find rock-climbing equipment, what brands they personally like, how to choose your equipment, and introduce community groups on how we can meet other like-minded and experienced climbers. Would have been good to share to beginner climbers like myself, no?

I did ask, but their answers were too general and inadequate. I didn't want to probe further due to lack of time and perhaps they didn't want to "sell" anything or show favoritism to any shops?

Anyway, I joined some online community groups who were eager to spread their knowledge, and I did a fair bit of research on what I should get, and where I should get them.

See my list of Sport Climbing / Bouldering Equipment & Gear Shops in Singapore for more information  ( ◞・౪・)

P.S. If you're interested, check out my experience taking the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Course in Singapore too!! Yes, I passed that!! hehehe...

One-on-On Personal Training Updates:

Genesis Gym Personal Training Updates:
The Beginning - Signing Up for Personal Training


Anonymous said...

I want to to thank you for this very good read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it.
I have got you book-marked to look at new things you post…

Adrine said...

Congrats on your certification!

The wall is soooooo super highhh!!!! Don't think I'll ever make it to the top. ;-)

An Apel a Day said...

You got up there! I tried a few times. I am such a chicken when it comes to heights.

Theresa Mahoney said...

I tried to do it at my local gym without much success lol. My hands were sweaty and I kept slipping. If I would have had gloves on, I think I would have done better.

Congrats on getting your cert!

Faelan said...

Just use chalk! (: when i first started it was torture because my hands get so sweaty. I use a combo of liquid chalk and powder chalk now and it works decently. Hope you give it another go!

Faelan said...

Hi! Great article, am planning to get my level 1 cert soon (: if you don't me asking, what are some community groups you can recommend? I'm trying to find people to climb with!