Want to find a climbing wall? Visit our interactive map of registered walls.

You might never have climbed, or you may be a regular at the climbing wall or crag. Find out how we can help you move forward on your climbing journey below, and have a look at our success stories and where climbing can lead to.

Can't find what you need? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions. By the way - If you're looking for a video to watch for NICAS Level 3, we recommend "Grit Kids". It's under the "I climb (and I do NICAS or NIBAS)" tab below.
. I'm brand new to climbingYoung boulderer (AdobeStock)Climbing trees... climbing the school gym rope... climbing comes naturally and there is so much you can get from it! You may have heard of climbing as a sport, or maybe even tried it out at a party, at Scouts or on a school trip.

If you want to get involved, read on! You can find out more on our about climbing page, and investigate different types of climbing, for example reading about "climbing" and "bouldering". We think that getting into this sport is a brilliant way to have fun, get fit, makes friends... and lots more.

People sometimes worry that they won't be fit enough, have the right equipment or maybe they are scared of heights. Rest assured, you will soon find out that climbing is for everyone no matter the starting point. You can borrow the equipment. Thinking about heights is natural and healthy. It's then about working with your coach to feel safe, and overcoming any fears with guidance, practise, and more practise!

What are the NIBAS and NICAS courses?

NICAS Participation CertificateWe offer two schemes, NIBAS and NICAS. Take your first climbing steps with NIBAS – the National Indoor Bouldering Award Scheme, which offers all the fun of climbing but no strings attached. Designed to support you from your first moves in a school playground to bouldering competitions and a lifetime of climbing with your mates. The National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme (NICAS) will help you learn all the skills you need to start your climb to lofty heights in the future, using ropes and harnesses.

At your very first NIBAS or NICAS climbing session some climbing centres provide a Participation Certificate showing some of the skills you've mastered. Ask your local centre about these certificates. We feel that these certificates are a great way recognise your achievements, and to guide you (and your parent/carer) towards the next steps. When you start a formal NICAS or NIBAS course your centre will provide you with a logbook - contact them direct for details.

What should I do if I'm interested in giving it a go?

Find out where you can go climbing with this handy Climbing Wall finder. All the places that run our courses are listed. If you're ready to sign up, read more about how to register as a candidate here.

More about our climbing schemes

Are schemes are run by the charitable ABC Training Trust. We are here to provide the structure, coaching and resources to help everyone enjoy the best start in climbing. You can also read more about the background of NICAS, and about the team behind the name.

Signing up to a NICAS or NIBAS course at your local climbing wall gives you a head start into the climbing world. With a nationally recognised syllabus to follow, certificates for achievement, and a pathway to follow (from new to super good), you can keep on progressing through our NICAS or NIBAS scheme whilst having a great time on the way.

"NICAS is an excellent scheme which has greatly improved my confidence when climbing as well as my climbing ability. It is fun, challenging and extremely rewarding and has encouraged me to take part in the sport on a regular basis." (Source: NICAS survey 2016)
I climb (and I do NICAS or NIBAS)As someone who is already doing NICAS or NIBAS, you will be getting a lot of what you need from your coach (also referred to as instructors or teachers). If you are trying to get hold of a logbook then please ask your centre. If you feel you need anything from us at the ABC Training Trust, the people who look after NICAS and NIBAS, you can contact us.

As you progress you might want to think about where your climbing can take you in the future. We have some success stories of people who have gone on to great things and ideas of the paths you can take too.

We also have some great videos for you to watch and links to interesting information that will help you with your climbing knowledge. This one, Grit Kids, is suitable for your NICAS L3.

Technique videos

We are grateful to Mile End Climbing Wall for letting us share their Video Learning Centre, and to Iain McKenzie for allowing access to his technique videos too.

Further reading

- we have linked to these through Amazon however other sellers are available so it's worth checking out all the options before you hit "buy".

If you're new to climbing; or want to inspire a friend, buy a copy of To look at improving technique and movement:
I climb (and I'm not doing NICAS or NIBAS) You already climb and this may be indoor or outdoor. Maybe you have never heard of us and are keen to find out more? If so take a look at our schemes and see if they are of interest.

You can find out here about registering as a candidate, and also find your nearest centre.

If you can demonstrate you already have some of the skills you might be a Direct Entry into a higher level of the Scheme.

If we can't offer you what you need, then to let you know that we are currently looking at developing our schemes further to cover younger climbers (under 7s) as well as developing our resources for an adult audience. At the moment our schemes are used by some adults however we know that the artwork and wording of our logbooks are youth focussed. Keep an eye on our website to find out what we might be able to offer you in future.

NICAS and NIBAS presentation and topic ideas As you progress through the schemes and reach the higher levels you will need to give a presentation. Here is a list of presentations other candidates have used, to give you some ideas:
  • Belaying techniques
  • Rope manufacture and fall factors
  • Climbing injuries and prevention
  • Sport climbing equipment and hardware
  • Introducing technique to a new climber (video)
  • The Story of La Dura Dura, Oliana
  • The History of Strawberries at Bwlch y Moch, Tremadog
  • The Seven Summits Mountaineering Challenge
  • Shauna Coxsey
  • The Changes in Sport and Trad climbing in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s
  • Progressing from indoor to outdoor climbing
  • RockeeZ Lead Safety for Parents (video)
  • Deep Water soloing

To inspire you further, here's the video that Scott gave for his Level 5 at Glasgow Climbing Centre, on "An Introduction to Climbing."
How long do NICAS or NIBAS take? There are no set time limits or number of attempts for either NICAS or NIBAS: you can have as many goes as you want or need for each level. Climbing's a life-long skill though: it takes time to learn, and (as they always say!) practice makes perfect.

These are the absolute minimums you'll spend on each level:
Level NICAS - roped climbing NIBAS - bouldering
1 4 hours with a coach 3 hours with a coach, and 3 hours on your own (some centres may run this as a minimum of 6 hours with a coach instead, over 6+ weeks)
2 12 hours (usually at least 12 weeks of lessons) 6 hours with a coach, and 6 hours on your own (some centres may run this as a minimum of 12 hours with a coach instead)
3 16 hours with a coach, plus 12 hours more hours of climbing 6 hours with a coach, plus 14 more hours of climbing
4 20 hours with a coach, plus 16 more hours of climbing 12 hours with a coach, plus 18 more hours of climbing
5 One year of regular climbing 20 hours with a coach, plus 100 extra hours over a period of a year
How can your parent/carer get involved with your climbing?Here are a few ways you could ask your parent/carer to support you to get the best from your climbing and bouldering:

  • Get to the wall on time: it seems simple but if you turn up late and flustered you are not in the right mind-set.
  • Practise tying knots: in the early stages of NICAS, knot tying is the biggest hurdle and takes the longest to learn. The main knot is the figure of eight - learn how to tie it and ask your parents/carers to help you. Most walls will hand out old lengths of rope for candidates to practice at home. Sophie Mitchell's book includes a piece of cord so knots can be practised.
  • You have a logbook so go through it with them to show them how you are progressing.
  • Most walls will offer some form of ‘Learn to Belay’ or ‘Introduction to Bouldering’ course. Your parent/carer might think about taking a course themselves. If they learn the basics it means that they can bring you to the centre outside of your NICAS or NIBAS sessions, allowing you to practise and improve your skills.

NICAS from NICAS on Vimeo.

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