First Visit FAQ

Do I have to complete a waiver form?

Earth Treks Waiver

Yes, All climbers, course participants, and individuals operating a safety system, must sign Earth Treks’ Waiver with Bouldering and Facility Orientation and watch a Bouldering Orientation Video. You'll also Climbers under 18 years of age must have the waiver form and orientations signed by their parent or court appointed guardian. 

I’m new to climbing, can I just drop in and start climbing?

With the exception of the waiver form and bouldering orientation video, there is no restriction for someone to just come in and climb. Climbing is a thrilling and rewarding sport that can be enjoyed by all ages and experience levels. But to climb the tall walls with ropes, someone who has passed our Belay Safety Check must belay for you… and of course it’s easier to find a partner if you can belay for them as well. By taking an introductory lesson first, you’ll build the necessary skills to pass our Belay Safety Check and start climbing in the gym whenever you want! If you want to get started without a class, check out our weekend Open Climb service.

What is belaying?

ET_2015_Page Banner_MD_ColumbiaBelaying is the act of managing a rope to protect a climber. The belayer is there to control the slack in the safety system, catch a climber if they fall, and lower them down when they’re finished climbing. It’s a crucial skill to learn and refine, and one of the first skills we teach in our Introduction to Climbing class.

How do I pass the Belay Safety Check?

Earth Treks Q and As
The Belay Safety Check is necessary for your safety and the safety of the Earth Treks community at large. While you must demonstrate the required skills competently with minimal guidance to pass, we encourage you to ask questions and practice briefly at our belay safety check station before starting . Climbers are encouraged to repeat the safety check if needed, but must wait a minimum of one day between attempts. If you do not pass the safety check you can still climb, but you won’t be able to belay or tie knots that day. The minimum age for belaying is 13 .  You can learn all of the required skills in the Introduction to Climbing course.

As part of your Belay Safety Check, you will be asked to…

  1. Put on a harness and tie into the harness using a Figure Eight Retrace knot with a backup. A Double Bowline is also acceptable.
  2. Put the rope “on belay”.
  3. Demonstrate pre-climbing checks and commands.
  4. Belay (manage the rope) such that a brake hand is maintained on the rope at all times. Catch simulated falls and demonstrate proper lowering technique.

What is bouldering? Do I need experience to try that?

ET_2015_Page Banner_MD_BoulderingAll Earth Treks Climbing Centers have extensive bouldering areas. Bouldering is unroped climbing on shorter walls ranging from 14 to 17 feet high. While you don’t need any previous climbing experience to boulder, to reduce the chance of injury we strongly encourage new climbers to experience roped climbing first. Bouldering involves increased risks because YOU WILL FALL, and all falls are ground falls that could result in serious injury. Check out the Waiver Form and Bouldering Orientation Video for more info.  Fundamentals of Bouldering is also a great class to get started.

How much does it cost?

There are lots of entrance fee options depending on how often you're climbing.  We offer memberships, day passes, 7 visit passes, and monthly passes.  Learn more about entrance and gear rental fees at Columbia Pricing and HoursTimonium Pricing and Hours, Rockville Pricing and Hours, and Crystal City Pricing and Hours.  For pricing on introductory classes start here.