NICAS - The National Indoor Climbing Achievement Schemeby Sarah Stirling May/2009
This article has been read 7,956 times
In this new series of articles we will explain each mountain qualification available in the UK. We'll also explain how they all fit together, and how you can get qualified.
Each set of articles will be accompanied by a live Question and Answer session in the UKC Forum, so if you have any questions, you can ask an expert.
Here is the first article in the series: NICAS.
What is NICAS?
NICAS is a UK-wide scheme designed to promote climbing development and accredit achievement on artificial climbing structures. Its main purpose is to provide a safe introduction to the sport for young people aged seven and upwards.
What does that mean?
NICAS is a series of certificates achieved through indoor climbing. It is mainly aimed at young people. It is a bit like earning your swimming badges, but for climbing.
Guy Jarvis, who designed the scheme, explains how and why it works.
“The reason NICAS came about is that, unlike most other sports, rock climbing didn't have a national structure of development and accreditation for climbers to work towards. I could see climbers and instructors getting bored and climbing lessons not progressing.
Some instructors and climbing centres were making up their own ad hoc climbing schemes. However, there were plenty of anomalies. We wanted to standardise the system by introducing a nationally recognised scheme.
NICAS is aimed at youth in particular: the majority of participants are in the age bracket 10 to low 20s. There are five levels, and you join at your own level then work your way through a log book at your own pace. It is skills based rather than time or age based. As you progress, your skills are signed off by an instructor and, at the end of each level, you get a certificate.
NICAS has been very popular because it satisfied a need. We created a structure and gave learning climbers something to work towards and something to show for their progression. It's important to state that the scheme doesn't intend to have a knock on effect on the ethos of climbing.
We ran an 18 month trial of the scheme before introducing it, and consulted with the BMC, Plas y Brenin, the Association of British Climbing Walls and mountaineering councils. 2,500 youngsters trialled the scheme across ten major climbing walls and there were lots of debates along the way.”
Teaching the scheme
If you own or run a climbing wall you can apply to become an Awarding Centre for NICAS and run the scheme. If you are a qualified climbing instructor but don't work for a climbing wall you can be inducted to deliver the scheme through an Awarding Centre. You will have to operate through the Awarding Centre so that they can moderate your performance and that of your candidates.
Claudia Heselden, age 13, has completed the NICAS Scheme
“I started NICAS in 2005 and completed the scheme in 2007. I found the scheme really good because it gives you a goal and encourages you to progress your climbing. I started climbing at Bristol Climbing Centre six months before Guy Jarvis asked if I'd like to trial the scheme. I said it sounded like a good idea.
I'm not sure I would have got into climbing so much without NICAS, or progressed so well. It works you through a series of skills, and tests you, so you know that you know things and feel more confident climbing. I just wanted to keep going back to the centre all the time!
There are five levels and the last thing you do is a written test on general knowledge, like climbing injuries, or 'what is a dyno?' You also have to do a project on a climbing topic. I did mine on a deep water solo DVD. You also learn how to tie knots, which has been useful now I'm getting into climbing outdoors. And you have to do 50 boulder problems at different grades. So you get a broader view of what climbing is from NICAS, too.
I climb at Bristol Centre three times a week now. I go straight after school. I do national competitions and I won the BMC Youth Climbing Series two years in a row. The BMCYCS is on at the minute but I'm not competing because I've got inflammation of the tendon through too much climbing! At least I learnt from NICAS how to treat climbing injuries!”
Claudia lives in Yeovil.
In this article, Dave Flanagan gives 10 tips on how to improve at bouldering indoors and also how to use bouldering to improve... Read more
In this trip report we hear about the 2012 summer QUBMC (Queen's University Belfast Mountaineering Club) & Alumni and company... Read more
On Saturday 28th of April 2012 UKC user Scott Titt became BMC President, taking over the reins from Rab Carrington. The position... Read more
A forum post recently cropped up featuring a video of 13 year-old Jacob Hadley cruising up My Halo E7 6b in the Dinorwig Slate... Read more
Morna Middleton interviews some top female UK routesetters and gives an insight into the male-dominated world of the routesetting... Read more
In this series, we feature a variety of vans and their owners and getting into the geeky details of their vehicle and its set-up.... Read more
|BMC Alpine Insurance for missed... 23:22 Tue|
|London indoor partner 22:30 Mon|
|BMC Outdoor survey: what did you... 16:09 Mon|
|Indoor trad wall Sep-15|
|20% BMC discount Sep-15|
|Partner wanted sun 13th.... Sep-15|
|Dolomites. Brilliant new indoor... Sep-15|
|Inaccessible indoor wall,... Sep-15|
|List more discussions...|
Clinging to the farthest tip of Cornwall, West Penwith is a sparsely populated granite Peninsula standing up against the full... Read more