Course material for the toprope course

General information

In this document you will find all the information for the toprope course. During the toprope course every new member will be taught a number of things.

Firstly, you will be made familiar with the type of climbing material we use. Secondly, you will learn how to properly tie in so you can climb safely and how to check each other. Finally, you will learn how to safely belay a toproper.

Besides that, you will also be made familiar with the most important rules and regulations regarding climbing at the TSAC.

What to expect

In total, the toprope course will take up three evenings. On the final evening there will be an examination. Furthermore, you have to be familiar with the theory and with the regulations at the TSAC. Aside from the theory in the NKBV‑booklet (Dutch) further on in this document, the TSAC has specific regulations regarding her own climbing walls.

Climbing on the TSAC walls

concrete wallThe TSAC is fortunate to have access to four beautiful climbing walls at the sport centre, allowing you – after passing your toprope exam – to climb to your heart’s content. Each wall has its own rules regarding its use, all of which are described in the relevant wall regulations. Of course you can always just ask somebody about the rules.

General rules and some rules specific to the concrete wall are presented below:

Finally, during the regular climbing evenings there is always 1 supervising instructor tasked with guarding everybody’s safety: the attendant (Dutch: "zaalwacht"). Any command from him/her needs to be obeyed.

Should you ever break one of these rules and the attendant catches you, you will have to buy him/her a drink in the canteen!

Overview of the statuses at the TSAC

I am: I am allowd to: How do I advance?
Indoor Toproper (Top)

Under supervision of an instructor:

  • Toprope climbing if belayed by a Top or higher.
  • Belay a toproper if the climber is a Top or higher.

Boulder on the boulder wall. With your TSAC‑pass you can the key at the porter.

Not: Hang out ropes on the concrete wall.

The seconding course is available to you. This course will be organized twice a year by TNO.
Seconding climber (Nak)

Under supervision of an instructor:

  • The same as a Top.
  • Belay an instructor who is lead climbing.
  • Hang out ropes on the concrete wall.

Not: Abseil on your own.

You can go on climbing weekend! There you may climb and abseil with an instructor.

If you can climb 3 routes on the concrete wall without effort, you may participate in the lead climb course.

Contact TNO or ask the zaalwacht for more information.

Advanced climber (Gev)

Under supervision of an instructor:

  • The same as a Nak.
  • Lead climbing, seconding and abseiling with a Gev or higher.
  • Hang out ropes on the concrete wall.

If you can climb the easiest routes on the outside wall with little effort, you may participate in the ZK‑SC course. Contact TNO for more information.

Gain experience on climbing weekends!

Sportscentre climber (ZK‑SC) Climb without supervision on all walls of the sport centre if your partner is also a ZK‑SC or higher. With your TSAC‑pass you can get the keys for the outside wall. Go on as many climbing weekends as possible! Ask your instructor about the possibilities to become a ZK‑OV.
Outdoor lead climber (ZK‑OV)

The same as a ZK‑SC.

On climbing weekends in bolted terrain you can climb without supervision with a ZK‑OV or higher.

Go on as many climbing weekends as possible! Ask your instructor about the possibilities to become a ZK‑AK.
Adventure climber (ZK‑AK)

The same as a ZK‑OV

On climbing weekends in unbolted terrain you can climb without supervision with a ZK‑AK.


NKBV Information Toprope

The NKBV has some course material as well, which is obligatory for the TSAC toprope course as well. Since it is in Dutch we have translated the most important parts for you below.

Tying in
Figure 1. left: 'direct' tying in with a figure-eight-follow-through knot; right: tying in 'indirectly'

Tying in

There are two different ways to tie in; ‘direct’ with a figure-eight-follow-through knot (see Figure 1) and ‘indirect’ with karabiners. ‘Indirect’ can be done with one safebiner or two opposite locking karabiners. Never tie in on your gear loops, these can’t hold more than 10 kilograms!

Figure 2: Partner checklist

Partner check

Figure 2 illustrates the steps in the partner check, check if:

  1. The harness is properly secured.
  2. The belay device is correctly installed.
  3. The karabiner for the belay device is screwed tight.
  4. The end of the rope is tied of.
  5. The climber is tied in correctly.

Remember that in the climbing world we also rely on social control, if you see somebody making a mistake you point it out or notify the attendant. Also accept it if somebody points out your mistakes.

Figure 3: Belay cycle


The most commonly used type of belay devices are the so-called tubers. With tubers a rope bend is fed through the device and attached the your tie-in loop with a locking karabiner (through both the device and the rope bend). The rope end going to the climber should be on top, this is called the climbing end; the rope end on the bottom is called the breaking end. When belaying, always keep at least one hand on the breaking end of the rope, never let go! In Figure 3 you can see the belay cycle:

  1. You move one hand to the climbing end of the rope.
  2. You take in the rope by pulling on the climbing end and moving the belay end up.
  3. You pull down the belaying end.
  4. You move your first hand back to the belaying end.
  5. You move your second hand above your first hand (=0).

It is better to take in small amounts of rope and repeat the steps more frequently than to take in large amounts of rope as it reduced the fall distance. Be careful not to have excessive slack in the rope. The weight difference between the climber and the belayer shouldn’t be more than 30%.