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Orange Tape

Version 0.3; last reviewed 16-02-2021


In order to safely and without-supervision participate in bouldering at any UQ Mountain Club (UQMC) climbing event, you must obtain your “Orange Tape”.

First and foremost, UQMC promotes a “safety first culture that guides all our activities”. That means that whatever you are doing, you must make sure that your and others safety is the number one priority at any given time.

This document will guide you towards a successful completion of the assessment of your “Orange Tape”. In order to get your “Orange Tape” approved, there are three main steps:

  1. Read and remember the knowledge displayed in this document,

  2. Put all this knowledge in a correct manner into practise,

  3. Get yourself assessed by a member of the executive team who will ask you theoretical questions and will assess your practical skills during one of the UQMC events.

After a successful assessment, you will obtain your “Orange Tape” on your UQMC card, which you will display on your harness together with your “Yellow Tape” and “Blue Tape”.

Please read the following instructions carefully.

NOTE: We do not endorse all the information by the content creators given below. However, we have checked the specific links and believe that they are great learning resources. These links do not replace learning practically from club members, but will be helpful to aid your learning.


The orange competency indicates that a member is a proficient boulderer. They are able to assess a boulder and appropriately protect the place around it with crash pads as well as effectively spot a climber. A member with orange competency should understand common injuries associated with bouldering and how to best avoid them.


You must be a member of UQMC to be tested for the “Orange Tape” competency.

Testable material

The material testable to obtain the “Orange Tape” competency can be broken down into the following categories:


The member being tested must be able to:

  • The member must be able to place crash pad/s effectively.

  • The member must be able to spot effectively.

  • The member must be able to assess a boulder and identify safe ‘down climb’ routes before climbing begins.

Theoretical material

  • The member must be able to place crash pad/s effectively.

  • The member must be able to spot effectively.

  • The member must be able to assess a boulder and identify safe ‘down climb’ routes before climbing begins.

  • The member must understand common causes for injury and how to avoid them.

  • The member must understand safe spotting practices.

  • Crag Ethics

The better you understand all the following material, the safer you will be as a climber and the more likely you are to avoid a climbing accident. Having a “safety first” culture within UQMC is the highest priority when climbing.

Reading for theoretical material

Mat placement

  • Bouldering pads usually have two layers of foam with different densities. The pad should be used with the denser side of the pad facing up. This video explains a bit more about the density of the boulder pads (3 min). Pads should be placed in the anticipated fall zone of the climber, ideally the pads should be placed so that the falling climber will land in the center of a pad.

  • Specific hazards such as rocks or branches should be covered with a pad if they are near the climber’s fall zone. If multiple pads are used, they should be overlapping each other, so that there is no gap between. Where possible, use a thin pad to cover the gap between pads.

  • Pads can be stacked (2 on top of each other) to provide extra protection. However, care needs to be taken to ensure the stack is stable. The edges of the stack should not increase the risk of the climber twisting an ankle if they land near the edge of the pad.

  • The anticipated fall zone of the climber may change during the climb. Therefore, multiple pads can be used to cover a large area or pads may be moved during the climb. For example, when climbing a traverse, pads should be moved during a climb in a manner that ensures that there is always a pad underneath the climber and that, if required, there is a person spotting the climber at all times.

  • Pad movement should be discussed and planned prior to climbing so that all parties are aware of where they want the pads to move to and when during a climb.

  • Pads should be used to protect the climber for the climber’s descent from the boulder.



  • When bouldering, the climber should be spotted by others when there is a risk of injuring their head or spine due to uneven ground, obstacles or difficult climbing moves.

  • The goal of the spotter is not to catch the climber, but to protect the climber's head and spine and to direct the falling climber towards the bouldering pads. This video explains a bit more about how to spot in which type of terrain (2 min). Please note that UQMC does not endorse the spread hand spotting technique displayed in the video.

  • Spotter stance:

  1. Knees bent

  2. Arms extended and bent

  3. Fingers together

  4. Thumbs tucked in close to fingers: “spoons not forks”


  • Spotters should anticipate the direction a climber will fall and position themselves to direct the falling climber safely onto the pad. At the very least, the spotter must prevent the falling climber's head from impacting the ground or other nearby hazards such as rocks or trees.

  • In order to protect the climber, spotters may need to change position while the climber is climbing. Spotters and the climber should plan their movements before the climber starts climbing.

  • If the spotter(s) is unable to continue spotting the climber or is at risk of injury when spotting, the climber should be informed that they are no longer being spotted.

Down climbing

  • Before attempting a climb, the climber should plan how they will descend to the ground. Sometimes climbing down the way they went up, may not be the safest route.

  • The climber should tell the spotter(s) how they are going to descend before they start climbing.

  • Often another part of the boulder might provide an easier descent, but it may be necessary to jump to the ground. If jumping is required, the climber should ensure that sufficient crash pads are available to protect their landing.

  • Spotters may be used to protect the climber when descending, if there is a risk of injury to the head or spine while down climbing.

Crag Ethics

It is UQMC policy (and just common courtesy) to leave no trace whenever you are climbing. Access to crags is something UQMC wants to keep, so we all must be good environmental stewards at all times. Some crag ethics, therefore, are:

  • Avoid making too much noise (music, load conversations, swearing etcetera)

  • Do not leave tones of chalk on the climb or on the ground. Use your brush to brush it off the rocks

  • Pack out rubbish and food scraps

  • If you set up hammocks, be careful not to ring bark trees

  • Try and stick to the existing crag trails

  • Do not leave toilet paper EVER

  • Leave your pets at home whenever they are not allowed at the crag (e.g. National Parks). Otherwise keep them on a lead or at least in eye shot, so you can pick up after them. Also, make sure they are not attacking or hunting local wildlife and are not annoying (or scaring) other climbers or members of the public.


Test questions

During the practical assessment for this level, your assessor will ask you a minimum of two questions from the following to test your understanding of the theoretical material:

  1. What is the spotter stance?

  2. What is a boulder pad made out of?

  3. What does 'stacked boulder pads' mean?

  4. How should you place your pads if there are hazards underneath a climb?

  5. What should you be aware of when you are down climbing?

If you do not understand any of the questions or you are unsure of an answer, discuss it with one of the executives before you do your test for the competency!


Version table


V0.1    Meike Go             27-11-2020        Created Document

V0.2    Nicole Carter    27-11-2020         Checked document for accuracy and completeness, leaving comments and suggestions

V0.3    Meike Go            16-02-2021          Reviewed the document, added links and pictures and edited some text

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