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Today is:March 16, 2017
General Guidelines

Guidelines Specific to ITEC Canopy Climbing

The Institute For Tropical Ecology And Conservation’s Canopy Access Program subscribes to the document titled
“ Recommended Guidelines for Programmed Recreational Tree Climbs” with the following changes, additions, and/or deletions. The following guidelines are specific to ITEC and apply to those climbs conducted by ITEC that qualify as “program” climbs.

Note about the climbing environment at ITEC

Climbing at ITEC occurs in several different environments and forest types. Most climbing will occur in primary rainforest. Other climbs can involve climbing in swamp forest, beach forest, alongside cleared pastureland, mangrove forest, and cloudforest. All climbing is done in “wild” trees that have not been prepped for climbing. An adherence to environmental ethics precludes the development of trees for climbing purposes. The one exception to this is the “Platform Tree” located in the primary forest. Even though the tree has a platform at eighty-five feet, the tree should still be considered a “wild” tree when approached for a climb. Most climbing occurs in relatively remote areas and safety guidelines reflect a consideration for this aspect of the climbing environment.


· A qualified tree climbing instructor shall be present to oversee all climbs of a program nature.

· All program climbs shall be administered by instructors and facilitators who have received training as faciliatators and/or instructors from a recognized trainer or training entity as well as having been trained in basic recreational tree climbing. Such training shall consist of a formal course in facilitation administered by qualified instructors accepted within the recreational tree climbing community. There will be no more than three facilitators operating under the guidance of any one instructor or lead facilitator and there shall be no more than six climbers climbing under the guidance of any one facilitator.

· People untrained in climbing, but who may be present to assist, shall be assigned to, and agree to operate under, the direction of the facilitating staff

· All Instructors, lead facilitators, and facilitators shall be familiar with the tree to be climbed and the equipment to be used for the climb.

· All Instructors, lead facilitators, and facilitators shall be familiar with both SRT and DRT climbing techniques.

· All Instructors, lead facilitators, and facilitators shall be familiar with rescue techniques applicable to double rope and single rope climbing techniques, and climbing techniques involving multiple pitches using a combination of double rope and single rope techniques.


· All equipment used in “life-support” applications shall be equipment manufacured for the purpose of vertical rope-assisted climbing by reputable, well-known manufacturers and shall be used in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.

· The harness to be used shall be of the type manufactured by New Tribe, or when necessary, that type manufactured for use by professional arborists.

· A chest harness, conforming to “life-support” quality, shall be present and available to assist climbers when necessary.

· Carabiners shall be of the “locking” variety, either aluminum or steel.

· Only ropes manufactured and/or sold for the purpose of tree climbing are to be used, and must be inspected before and after every climb.

· All gear necessary to perform rescues will be available on-site at the area of the climb.

· All life-support equipment shall be inspected before and after each climb, and such equipment that does not pass inspection shall be dealt with in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations.

Conducting the climb

· The tree, and the area surrounding the tree, shall have been inspected for hazards before being rigged and the beginning of the climb. Hazards will be identified and rigging shall proceed in a manner that will best avoid hazards while the climb progresses. Environmental ethics preclude the removal of hazards as they comprise an ecologically significant part of the forest environment. Hazards are to be avoided rather than removed from the tree.

· The rigging of the tree shall be supervised by facilitators and instructors. All rigging, including knots, shall be inspected prior to the climb by the designated “lead” facilitator.

· All settings will be “bounce tested” by facilitating/instructional staff prior to every climbing session.

· Any tree that has not been climbed previously, and any setting that has not been used previously, shall be climbed by the lead instructor and inspected prior to use by program climbers.

· All climbers shall receive proper orientation and introduction to safety procedures prior to climbing. Climbing techniques and safety protocols shall be demonstrated. The orientation shall be carried out by the lead facilitator/instructor or under the direction of the lead facilitator/instructor.

· All climbing shall occur “on rope”. Free climbing, or “off rope” climbing, is not permitted.

· The facilitator-to-climber ratio, as established by the administering agency, and referred to under the heading “personnel”, above, shall be adhered to.

· All climbers shall be fitted into harnesses by facilitators and inspected to be sure they have been properly fitted and secured to the climber.

· All climbers shall be attached to climbing ropes by facilitators and inspected to ensure proper attachment.

· All loose items shall be secured to the climber before the climber leaves the ground.

· Once climbers are “on rope” and off the ground, ascent and descent procedures should be re-stated and the climber questioned by the facilitator to mke sure that procedurees are understood.

· As climbers advance, facilitators will monitor the placement of safety knots in climber’s ropes at appropriate intervals. Each time a safety knot reaches the ground, another safety knot shall be placed on the rope at the facilitator’s head level.

· As climbing progresses, facilitators should strive to maintain situational awareness and be aware of potential problems that could develop. Such problems include weather, personality issues, outside distractions, and parents who may “coach” their children in an inappropriate manner.

· All climbing shall be conducted with regard for the policy of Challenge By Choice.

· Onlookers are not to interfe in any way with facilitator’s efforts to conduct a safe and successful climb. Those disregarding this will be asked to leave the area and, if necessary, escorted from the area.

· All descents shall be belayed by facilitators with a hand on the climber’s rope.

· Participants shall be relieved of their gear following a climb by facilitators.

· Facilitators will make sure that all gear has been returned.

Climbing to the “platform”

· Climbers will remain “on rope” even while aboard the platform.

· Climbers reaching the platform will be tied off by a facilitator before disconnecting from the rope used to access the tree. When ready to descend climbers will be re-attached to the climbing rope by a facilitator before disconnecting from the in-tree tie-off.

· No “horseplay”on the platform! Those who do not take the climb seriously will be sent to the ground and will be excluded from future climbs.

· All items that could possibly fall are to be secured to the platform or to a climber while aboard the platform.

Emergency action plan

· Instructors and facilitators shall have an emergency action plan discussed, ready, and in place before the start of the activity.

Although telephone service is sporadic and inconsistent, there should be a cell phone within the group with appropriate phone numbers attached. Everyone in the group should be aware of the whereabouts of the phone and know how to use it.

Important numbers
Enrique: 6624 9246
Janet: 6486 0524
Willy: 6613 1984
Juanni: 6615 5580


The lead facilitator/instructor shall take immediate charge.

Someone shall be dispatched immediately to base to “sound the alarm”

One person shall be assigned to “crowd control”.

All climbers shall immediately descend, but not without belay.

If immediately necessary, a rescue shall be performed to bring the “victim” to the ground and first aid applied.

Victim shall be stabilized until emergency personnel arrive. Follow up with forms, paperwork, and an after-action review.

· ITEC administrators and staff shall have been made aware of the location for that day’s climbing. A vehicle should be available at ITEC in the event a trip to the hospital is necessary.

· All instructors and facilitators will be aware of location of nearest EMS facility

The nearest (and only!) EMS facility to ITEC’s area of operation is located at:

Main road into Bocas on left (Hospital)
Fire Station in downtown Bocas

· All instructors and facilitators administering a programmed climb shall have First Aid/CPR certification via Red Cross or appropriate agency.

It must be remembered that help will be inconsistent and unreliable at best. This is not the first world! Instructors, climbers, and facilitators should always climb under the assumption that if they have an emergency, they themselves will probably be their best source of help. Do not assume that telephones will work. Do not assume that there will be someone to answer the telephone. Do not assume that the person answering the telephone will understand English. Do not assume that anyone you contact will know anything at all about resolving emergencies in the vertical environment. Always remember that you are in an environment where adventure and the accompanying risk are real and must be taken seriously.

Post-climb procedures,p> · De-rigging the tree shall be supervised by facilitator personnel

· All gear shall be inspected for damage before being stored.

· An after-action review, or debriefing, shall occur in which all issues concerning the climb shall be discussed.

· Accident report forms and after-action report forms shall be filled out after the climb as needed.

Adaptive climbs

In addition to the recommendations above:

· Facilitators shall have received training in adaptive climbing systems from a recognized trainer or training entity.

· Medical personnel familiar with the climbers' conditions and needs shall have been consulted, when deemed necessary and based upon climber’s physical condition., to advise and to make recommendations concerning connections between climbers and the support system.

· Adult climbers, willing to accept responsibility for themselves and having signed documents to that effect, shall be permitted to climb without presence of medical personnel, pending approval of lead facilitator.

· The lead facilitator shall have the authority to refuse service to any climber when deemed necessary in situations involving adaptive climbing and adaptive climbing systems.

The led facilitator/ instructor shall have the authority to deviate from these guidelines anytime the situation demands such action and it is felt necessary and appropriate.

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