Climbing Wall FAQ’s
What is bouldering?
- Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is performed without the use of ropes or harnesses. Boulderers use climbing shoes to secure footholds, chalk to keep their hands dry, and crash pads to cushion their falls.
What is belaying?
- Belaying is the practice of exerting friction on a climbing rope so that a falling climber does not fall very far. A climbing partner called a belayer applies friction at the other end of the rope whenever the climber is not moving, and removes the friction from the rope whenever the climber needs more rope to continue climbing.
- Maggie Daley Park offers belaying certifications so that you can learn to belay and belay your friends or family. Belayers must be a minimum of 18 years old. Maggie Daley Park also offers auto-belay services, which allow you to climb on your own without a human belayer.
What is top rope climbing?
- Top rope climbing is a style of climbing in which a rope, used for the climber’s safety, runs from a belayer at the foot of a route through one or more carabineers connected to an anchor system at the top of the route and back down to the climber, attaching to the climber by means of a harness.
What is auto-belaying?
- Auto-belaying is the practice of using an automatic belaying device in place of a human belayer. Maggie Daley Park’s auto-belays are the safest models in the industry and use magnetic braking technology to ensure a smooth stop to a climber’s fall.
What is lead climbing?
- Lead climbing is a technique used to ascend a route. A lead climber attaches him or herself to a length of elastic climbing rope and ascends a route while periodically attaching anchors to the face of the route and clipping into the anchors. Lead climbing is often seen as less restrictive than top rope climbing because it does not require a pre-placed anchor at the top of the route.
- We currently do not offer lead climbing. The wall can accommodate lead climbing and as we see how wall utilization evolves, we will evaluate offering lead rope climbing.
What are private lessons?
- A private lesson is one-on-one instruction with one of Maggie Daley Park’s veteran climbing instructors. This is a great way to learn how to climb or to master more advanced climbing techniques.
Getting prepared to come climb at Maggie Daley Park
What do I need to wear?
- Climbers should wear comfortable, athletic gear. Loose fitting clothing should be avoided. You will need to wear special climbing shoes to climb. You are also required to wear a harness if you are top rope climbing. All climbers need to wear a helmet. All equipment is available for rent.
- You may bring your own climbing equipment, but Maggie Daley Park reserves the right to inspect your harness to ensure that it is safe.
What can I bring with me as I climb?
- No items may be carried with you as you climb. This is to prevent the risk of items falling to the ground or hitting someone below you as you are climbing. This includes cell phones, cameras, and other personal equipment.
- Day lockers are available in the fieldhouse for a small rental fee to secure your personal belongings.
What do I need to bring?
- ID, credit card to pay for your usage and deposit on your equipment rental and comfortable athletic clothing. Sunscreen is recommended.
How long does someone normally climb or boulder?
- How long you climb is really a function of your fitness and interest, but the typical first time climber will climb for about 90 minutes including certification process.
- The certification process for climbing takes about 45-60 minutes. The certification process for bouldering takes about 15-20 minutes.
Can I climb or boulder by myself?
- To climb, you need to be belayed, which requires someone on the ground working with you. This requires either coming with a friend or relative who will belay you (they need to be certified as well) or using our auto-belay services (for an additional fee). Alternatively, you could hire one of our instructors to belay you and give climbing instruction, but availability is limited.
- Bouldering must be done with a spotter below you to ensure that if/when you fall you have someone to make sure the crash pads are properly positioned and to help guide your fall
- We want to encourage people to climb and will do our best to partner those who are unaccompanied with others, but there is no guarantee. As a result, it is best to come with another person.
How does the liability waiver work?
How do I handle my kids who are coming to climb without me?
- For minors (under 18), the waiver needs to be executed by a parent or guardian. If a parent or guardian is not accompanying a minor, the parent or guardian may complete the waiver ahead of time. The minor must come to Maggie Daley Park with a hard copy of the executed waiver along with a copy of an ID which verifies the parent or guardian’s signature, or the waiver and supporting information may be emailed to MDP@LakeshoreSF.com ahead of time.
- Maggie Daley Park and its representatives reserve the right to prohibit people from climbing if the staff cannot determine the validity of the signature on the waiver. Please be as thorough as possible in completing this information.
How old do you have to be to climb and/or boulder?
- To climb or boulder, you must be able to fit comfortably into one of our harnesses. Generally speaking, children as young as 4 will meet this standard
- You must be a minimum of 18 to belay someone else.
How do I start climbing?
What is the process to start climbing?
- Check in at the fieldhouse.
- Complete the waiver.
- Chose what you would like to do (belay certification, boulder certification, auto-belay, private lesson).
- Let us know what equipment size you need (shoes should be as tight as possible to give you as much feel for the wall as possible).
- Pay the appropriate fee.
- Retrieve your rental equipment.
- Lock your personal equipment in a locker.
- Proceed to the appropriate area of the wall for your certification class or to climb as appropriate (the color on your helmet indicates to our climbing wall attendants what you are authorized to do).
- Get certified to Climb.
- If you are getting certified, you need to return your stamped receipt to the Field House if you would like the certification to be kept on file for your next visit to Maggie Daley Park. If you forget to return the stamped receipt on your first visit, you will have to re-take the certification class the next time you want to climb.
How does the process differ if I have my own equipment?
Maggie Daley Park climbing staff will need to inspect your harness to make sure it meets our safety standards.
What is the process for lead climbing if I’ve never tried it?
Climbers who wish to lead at MDP need no prior experience. The wall offers a $115 certification course which introduces novice lead climbers to all aspects of this technique in two three hour courses. The only requirement is that climbers bring a personal harness with gear loops and be able to climb routes of moderate difficulty.
What is the process for lead climbing if I have experience, but haven’t climbed at Maggie Daley Park?
- For those climbers who have already climbed on lead frequently, a one-time certification ($15) will offer access to many of the wall’s routes. In this one-time certification, climbers must be proficient in and demonstrate the following:
- Proper tie-in for both the climbers and the belayer (using a grigri)
- Proper use of commands (on-belay, climbing, etc.)
- Proper belay technique (not back clipping, z-clipping, etc.)
- Proper belay technique with grigri (see Petzl recommendations)
- Safe fall
- Safe catch
Please note that the park requires the use of Maggie Daley Park owned equipement. This means that all lead climbers must rent rope, quickdraws, and a Petzl grigri. This is packaged together for $15 plus the daily use fee ($7).
Where am I allowed to climb?
- The color on your helmet indicates where you are allowed to climb.
- Someone who is getting a certification will only be allowed to climb after they have completed the certification program.
- Someone who is already certified as a climber/belayer may climb wherever the wall is open as indicated by the climbing screens being removed. Please check in with the wall attendant in the area you want to climb before you start climbing.
- If you have paid for the use of an auto-belay or a private lesson, please check in with the climbing wall attendant in your area to take advantage of these services.
How long can I go for?
- Initially, climbers may climb for as long as they like.
- Depending on how busy the wall is, we may institute limits on how long people may climb to ensure that as many people have access to this facility as possible.
What are the prices?
- Price information is available here
Are there any other restrictions on who can climb or boulder?
- Size restriction: a climber must be able to fit comfortably in our harnesses, which means small children and larger adults may not be able to climb and / or use the auto-belays
- Age restriction: climbers must be at least 4 years old to climb or boulder, and at least 18 years old to belay.
- Weight restriction: a belayer should weigh as much or more than the individual being belayed. We are working to get weights and other tools to help manage a weight differential but at this time, we do not have them.
What happens if the weather is bad? Will I get my money back if the wall has to be closed?
- Rain, lightning and high winds all create negative climbing experiences. Given that this type of weather may develop without warning, wall managers will use their best judgment to determine when to close the wall.
- If the wall is closed because of weather, no money will be returned.
What equipment do I need for bouldering?
- Climbing shoes, a helmet, and a crash pad. Chalk bags are optional, but recommended. All equipment is available for rent at the fieldhouse.
What equipment do I need for top rope climbing?
- Climbing shoes, a helmet and a harness. Chalk bags are optional, but recommended. All equipment is available for rent at the fieldhouse.
What happens if I don’t return the equipment or I return it damaged?
- You will be charged a $150 fee for the equipment.
How do you clean the helmets and shoes?
- We use disinfecting spray on helmets and shoes between each use.
Can I bring my own equipment?
- Yes – however if you bring your own harness, we will need to inspect it to make sure it meets our safety standards.
Why do I need to wear a helmet?
- Our insurer requires the use of helmets. They are particularly fearful of people hitting each other and of boulderers falling.
Questions about Certification
How long does it take to get certified?
- Belay / Climbing certifications take about 45-60 minutes.
- Bouldering certifications take about 15-20 minutes.
Why do I need to get certified?
- Climbing is inherently a risky sport. To minimize the risk to you and those around you, we need to make sure that you understand the appropriate behavior and safety procedures expected at Maggie Daley Park.
I’m certified at my local climbing place, can I just use that?
- We have no way of validating your certification or confirming that their safety procedures match our expectations.
- We are happy to perform a belay check to test you, so that you can start climbing right away. The belay check takes less time and costs less. Please check with our staff for details on this program.
How long is the belay certification good for?
- It is good for the season. If you return your belay certificate to the fieldhouse, we will maintain it on file for the duration of the season. We do require it to be renewed annually to ensure you still understand the safety procedures.
Questions for Groups