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Elements and Performance Criteria

  1. Plan for vertical caving activity.
  2. Free climb in a cave.
  3. Apply advanced climbing techniques.
  4. Evaluate activity.

Required Skills

Required skills

problemsolving skills to

identify and negotiate pitch hazards and obstacles while free climbing

determine when to use climbing aids

planning and organising skills to

identify a suitable vertical caving pitch

select equipment for the activity

communication skills to inform progress with spotter or belayer throughout free climbing

first aid and emergency response skills appropriate to the location to enable initial response to emergencies and personal health care

Required knowledge

legislation and organisational policies and procedures to enable safe conduct of all activities

advanced techniques used for exploration in vertical caves

hazards obstacles and risks that may be experienced while free climbing on a vertical caving pitch

climbing aids and equipment used for spotting and belaying a free climber on a vertical caving pitch and methods of protecting a free climber to enable safe conduct of activities

communication systems used between free climbers and spotters or belayers

use care and maintenance of equipment to ensure prolonged life span and safety requirements

basic weather information to ascertain possible conditions and their affect on the activity

safety and emergency procedures relevant to the location and activity to ensure safety of self and others

Evidence Required

The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria required skills and knowledge range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package

Overview of assessment

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit

Evidence of the following is essential

applies relevant process to plan equipment requirements appropriate for the conditions and duration of the caving activity and arranges suitable communication systems with spotters or belayers

negotiates obstacles and hazards while free climbing a vertical caving pitch and adapts to problems or issues that may arise

applies advanced techniques used for exploration in vertical caving including the use of climbing aids to assist climb

evaluates and reflects on own performance to identify strengths weaknesses and areas that need improvement

Context of and specific resources for assessment

Assessment must ensure participation in vertical caving activities in caving environments that reflect local conditions and are of sufficient breadth and duration to demonstrate competency and consistency of performance

Assessment must also ensure access to

a suitable natural cave site for the conduct of vertical caving

vertical caving safety and rescue and communication equipment

Method of assessment

A range of assessment methods should be used to assess practical skills and knowledge The following examples are appropriate for this unit

oral or written questioning to assess knowledge of relevant legislation and organisational policies and procedures to enable safe conduct of all vertical caving activities

observation of safe participation and demonstration of free climbing skills

observation of dealing with vertical caving hazards and obstacles

thirdparty reports from a supervisor detailing performance

Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector workplace and job role is recommended

Range Statement

The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

Contextual issues may include:


group size

other users

pitch height

environmental impact

soundness of surface

access and egress

weather conditions

Relevant legislation may include:

occupational health and safety

permits or permission for access

environmental regulations.

Organisational policies and procedures may include:

occupational health and safety

use, maintenance and storage of equipment

risk management

communication protocols

minimal impact environmental and caving codes

Australian Speleological Federation Codes and Guidelines

code of ethics.

Relevant sources may include:

bureau of meteorology


national parks and wildlife centres


Weather information may include:

satellite images

daily and weekly forecasts

maximum and minimum temperatures

rainfall and flooding

weather warnings.

Equipment may include:

vertical caving equipment

safety, first aid and rescue equipment

communication equipment.

Hazards may include:

rock fall

flowing water

abrasion points

tangled rope

loose clothing and hair


strong cave breezes.

Safety may include:

personal safety checks

spotting by other party members

top rope belay for longer and exposed pitches.

Techniques may include:

climbing cracks



the use of layback moves

mantle shelving.

Climbing aids may include:

handlines or etriers

traverse lines

short lengths of caving ladder.

Advanced techniques may include:

lead climbing

aid climbing

scaling poles

rope traverses.

Relevant aspects may include:

hazard and risk identification

free climbing skills and advanced techniques

use of climbing aids.