Universal Challenge

Making challenge courses accessible and usable for all

bullet Participant
bullet Facilitator
bullet Resources
bullet Site Accessibility
This is a photo of a group of people standing on a wooden beam in the woods‚ as they hold hands to keep their balance.
Activities and Adaptations

> facilitator > activities & adaptations> high–challenge course > Belaying Options


Belaying is the technique used to protect climbers while they are in the air. A rope is attached to the climber’ harness‚ which runs up to a safety cable and then back to the belayer(s) whose main responsibility is to stop the downward movement of the participant if he falls. There are a variety of belay devices that can be utilized. The belay itself can be performed by virtually any individual who understands the system‚ has the appropriate cognitive ability to understand his role‚ and the right technique to accomplish the task.


  • Just Rite Descender: This device is generally made from a telephone pole or piece of treated lumber that is a minimum of 6” X 6 ” in diameter. The post is set into the ground approximately five ft. deep and three holes are drilled in the pole at 45 degree angles. The belay rope is then run through the holes to create the friction necessary to stop a fall and be held by the belayers.

  • Hip Belay: There are a variety of hip belay systems available. With these systems the friction device‚ or belay device‚ is attached to a person’s harness. The rope is then run through the device. A person can perform a hip belay while they are sitting or standing.
  • This is a photo of three facilitators feeding and pulling slack from a rope passed through the just rite descender as a participant climbs the tower.
    Facilitators belay for participants at the climbing tower.

    This is a photo of a professional challenge course facilitator sitting in his wheelchair as he uses a hip belay system to ensure the safety of a program participant.
    A professional facilitator who utilizes a wheelchair‚ uses a hip belay system to ensure the safety of a program participant. (Photo by Bradford Woods)

    This photo shows the hip belay system close up.
    Close-up of hip belay system.

Back to top >>