Program Climbs 

Program Climbs - Double Rope

DRT Program Climb Guidelines

This guideline is a living document subject to periodic revision as determined by the GOTC community.

Note:  These are minimum guidelines. Individual groves (tree climbing schools, organizations, businesses, communities, etc) may exceed these guidelines as they wish. 


Program Climb
A Program Climb is a facilitated, group or open climb led by a qualified facilitator or instructor. The program climb leader is responsible for informing the participants of the rules of the climb and is responsible for the safety of the participating climbers. DRT
DRT (or DdRT) is an acronym for "Doubled Rope Technique" (see the 
Glossary for more detail).

The Site

  • Facilitated climbs shall be conducted in trees that are known to the facilitators. The tree or trees will be known to be tame and not wild - the former meaning climbed, cleaned, deadwooded, etc. and ready for sanctioned climbs. A wild tree is one that has not been readied for climbing.
  • The climbing site including the tree (ground, trunk, crown), and the area surrounding the tree, shall be inspected for hazards before being rigged and prior to the beginning of the climb.
  • All branches used as anchors or rope placement will have been pre-checked and known to hold the weight of the facilitator prior to being climbed on by a client.
  • Cambium protection, such as rope sleeves or false crotches, will be used for all dynamic DRT rope placements.

Facilitator responsibilities prior to climbing

  • All program climbs shall be administered by facilitators who have received training as facilitators and/or instructors from a recognized trainer or training entity, as well as training in basic recreational/technical tree climbing.
  • All group climbs will have at least one setting for the facilitator for rescue. This facilitator shall have equipment on or at the ready should a climber require aerial assistance.
  • All facilitators administering a programmed climb shall have First Aid/CPR training via Red Cross or other recognized agency.
  • All facilitators shall have received instruction in rescue techniques applicable for the type of climb to be conducted and be familiar with all rescue gear provided at the climbing site.
  • An appropriate-sized first aid kit shall be available at every climb. The first aid kit will be inspected and re-stocked following all climbs.
  • Drinking water shall be available.
  • A telephone (or mobile phone) shall be available, or the whereabouts of the nearest phone known, with a list of emergency numbers.
  • Any and all health concerns need to be discussed prior to climber proceeding with climb.
  • Climbs will be preceded by a class/orientation that will cover safety, communication, equipment, facilitator identification, spectator, parent or other non-climber responsibilities during climb, climber ascent and descent procedures.
  • Climbers will be suited up by a facilitator and checked again prior to climber's first or subsequent climbs.
  • All knots will be tied by one facilitator. Each sequence of knots will undergo being tied, dressed, seated, and bounce tested prior to climb.

During the climb

  • The on-rope climber-to-facilitator ratio shall not exceed 6:1.
  • Only those climbing and/or facilitating shall be allowed in the climbing area, and only when wearing approved climbing helmets.
  • Parents or guardians of underage participants shall remain in the vicinity of the climb and be available if needed.
  • All loose items shall be secured to the climber before the climber leaves the ground.
  • All climbing shall occur "on rope". Free climbing, or "off rope" climbing, is not permitted, and will result in immediate cessation of that climber's participation in the event.
  • As climbers advance, facilitators shall make sure that safety knots are placed in climber's ropes at appropriate intervals.
  • All descents shall be monitored by facilitators with a hand on the climber's rope.


  • All equipment used in "life-support" applications shall be equipment manufactured specifically for use in accepted rope-assisted climbing activities by reputable, well-known manufacturers, and shall be used only in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Equipment shall be inspected before and after each climbing event and maintained or replaced, as needed, in accordance with manufacturers' recommendations.
  • Only arborist ropes are to be used. Only saddles approved for tree climbing are to be used.
  • All climbers should wear a helmet for head protection. Helmets should be properly fitted and secured with a chin strap. Helmets used for tree climbing should be resistant to impact as stated by the CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission), the European Community (CE EN 12492), UIAA (106), or other recognized governmental safety standard setting agency.


The facilitator or facilitators organization shall hold public liability insurance for recreational tree climbing to an amount that is suitable for their geographical location.  © Copyright Global Organization of Tree Climbers 2007 - present    Join Us/Donate