NICAS Award scheme

NICAS Sessions (National Indoor Climbing Award Schemes) 7-17 years

NICAS is designed to provide structured progression for climbers wishing to learn the skills associated with indoor climbing. The scheme provides a programme of training and development in the sport that can be followed through a number of levels.

The Scheme aims to promote good practice, deeper knowledge of the sport and provide a structure for personal climbing and bouldering development. The emphasis is on acquiring skills and developing progression rather than graded performance, except at the very highest levels. As such the schemes are open to candidates of abilities from 7 years upwards.

The five award levels assess candidates to nationally agreed standards in performance and are recognised by the Association of British Climbing Walls Training Trust, Mountain Training and the UK Mountaineering Councils.

NICAS Level 1

These entry level sessions, aim to teach participants basic climbing techniques and focus predominantly on the safety skills needed to become a “foundation climber” operating under supervision.

NICAS Level 2

This level is a key stage in a climber’s development. As a “top rope climber” participants will have mastered the basics of indoor climbing and would be expected to operate safely and independently within the climbing environment.

NICAS Level 3

At this level, participants are taught the more advanced techniques of climbing movement and the use of bouldering walls to improve their strength “technical climbers” will be introduced to a wider range of equipment, traditions and etiquette associated with climbing.

NICAS Level 4.1

Lead skills are introduced at this level with the back-up top rope system remaining in place. This allows participants to gain an understanding of “lead climbing” without significantly increasing the risks.

NICAS Level 4.2

More advance skills are introduced at this level to allow participants to become a competent “lead climber”. This level requires a more mature attitude and commitment from participants as it carries higher risks and responsibilities than previous levels.

NICAS Level 5

Advanced Climber: the top-level award that focuses on improving performance, a deeper understanding of climbing systems and the wider world of climbing, as well as experience of local and national competitions.