NICAS Participants need to buy a logbook per discipline prior to starting the pathway at Reception @ £8.50

Wild Climber logbook @ £15

Logbooks cover Levels 1-3 for Bouldering, Climb, and Clip.

The National Indoor Climbing Award Schemes (NICAS) are an extremely popular UK-wide programme of climbing for young people, starting from age 3.

Designed to promote climbing development, good practice and accredit individual achievement, they’re a fantastic launchpad into the world of climbing with opportunities for progression into competitions, coaching, outdoor climbing, or just safe and competent social climbing with friends and families.

With their own individual logbook in which to record progress and certificates awarded for completion of various levels, NICAS will motivate your child into a prolonged involvement and progression through climbing whilst building both competence and confidence.

Pathways available:

NICAS Wild Climbers offers climbing skills for all, aimed at children aged 3-6 years. It’s a fun, game oriented programme that aims to introduce climbers safely into the indoor climbing environment, developing their awareness of climbing movements, improving confidence and creating a grassroots pathway into additional climbing activities. Wild Climbers is a programme that is designed to be inclusive and accessible for all.

Pre-schoolers – 45 min weekday sessions run in the morning. Coach led sessions to allow parental involvement to facilitate safe supervision of games and activities. 4 Participants: 1 Coach. A parent/carer can supervise a maximum of 2 children at one time.

School-aged children – 45 min weekday sessions run in the afternoon. Parents/carers remain on site to assist with child needs or behavioural issues but are not directly involved with the session delivery. 6 Participants: 1 Coach (no parental/carer involvement required).

Cost: £9.50 p/p

NICAS Clip is a fantastic brand new climbing scheme that launched in Autumn 2022 aimed at children aged 6+. It focuses on the safe use of auto belay facilities and fun experiences within climbing through gamification of sport. NICAS Clip aims to introduce participants safely into the indoor climbing environment, develop their awareness of climbing movements, improve confidence and create a pathway into additional climbing activities.

For NICAS Clip, it is suggested that parents/carers remain on site to assist with child needs or behavioral issues but are not directly involved with the session delivery.

1 Hour, Age 6+, Ratio 8 Participants: 1 Coach (no parental/carer involvement required), Cost: £14.50 p/p

The two core award schemes for age 7+.

The NICAS Bouldering scheme involves “bouldering” – this is a form of climbing usually practiced on small rock boulders, or at indoor walls. Bouldering is carried out at lower heights than roped climbing. The “boulderer” is able to climb down or jump down from the wall (so ropes and harnesses are not required).

The NICAS Climbing scheme also involves some bouldering but mostly climbing with ropes and harnesses. This is usually done with two people, one climbing, and one holding the rope and lowering the climber (the belayer). Belaying techniques are a key part of NICAS.

NICAS Bouldering and NICAS Climbing each have five progressive levels of award for complete novices to expert climbers and have similar aims:

  • to develop climbing movement skills and improve levels of ability
  • to learn how to use equipment appropriately
  • to develop risk assessment and risk management skills in the sport
  • to work as a team, communicate with, and trust other climbers
  • to provide a structure for development, motivation and improved performance
  • to develop an understanding of the sport, its history and future challenges
  • to provide a record of personal achievement
  • to point the way to further disciplines and challenges in climbing beyond the scheme.

Synopses of NICAS Climbing and Bouldering Levels

NICAS Climbing

Sessions run for 1.5 hours on weekdays after school hours and also at weekends. Ratio 6 Participants: 1 Coach (dropping to 4:1 when lead climbing)

Cost: £15.50 p/p

This is the entry-level award for candidates who wish to learn basic climbing skills. This level focuses on a safety-conscious attitude as much as climbing skills. It is designed to be achievable by any climber with aptitude, whilst remaining under the direct supervision of a coach at all times.

This level is a key stage in a climber’s development. It is designed to correspond to most climbing centres’ membership standards. A Level 2 holder should be a potentially independent top rope climber and boulderer. They have mastered the basics of climbing on an artificial climbing structure and should be able to climb and boulder safely and, if appropriate, independently.

This level concentrates on climbing technique and movement with some additional knowledge of equipment. Bouldering is a key component of this level and a wide range of bouldering challenges is essential to deliver both training and assessment. As well as being taught various technique and movement skills, candidates will now to some degree be coached individually in order to motivate them and develop their climbing potential.

This level introduces candidates to lead climbing, where the climber manages the rope themselves as they climb, clipping it into protection as they move up the route. Minimum performance grades are introduced at this level as a certain level of physical ability is beneficial to lead safely on steeper routes that are less likely to result in injury in case of a fall. Lead climbing carries higher risks, and responsibilities but also rewards for both climber and belayer, developing self-motivated climbers with a wide range of skills, a high level of competence, and a desire to progress by identifying and setting goals.

The emphasis of this level is to focus on improved performance as well as gaining knowledge of the wider world of climbing. Although candidates will learn how to train productively and systematically for performance gains, they do not need to become elite climbers. A holder of this level will have achieved a solid level of technique, fitness, knowledge and motivation through considerable effort over many months and should naturally be looking beyond the bounds of indoor facilities to greater challenges in the world of outdoor climbing.

NICAS Bouldering

Sessions run for 1 hour on weekdays after school hours and also at weekends. Ratio 6 Participants: 1 Coach

Cost: £12 p/p

This is an entry-level award for candidates who wish to gain an insight into the physical activity of bouldering and how to use a bouldering wall safely.

The candidate should be able to understand how the bouldering wall works, how problems are set and demonstrate that they can pick problems which are suitable for their ability. They should have an understanding of warming up and warming down and that they have the ability to control their own sessions. This level introduces technique and movement skills with an introduction to equipment.

This level is a key stage in a candidate’s development. It is designed to correspond to most bouldering centres’ “membership” standards. A candidate completing this level will be competent; they will possess the knowledge and skill to boulder safely at any bouldering facility and operate in a responsible and exemplary manner.


A candidate who achieves Level 4 will be a self-motivated Boulderer who has a wide range of skills and has reached a high level of competence. They will be someone who is looking to progress and will be able to identify and set goals to help them improve. They will have an understanding of how to identify weaknesses and how to structure a session to work on them.

A candidate that achieves Level 5 will be a highly competent Boulderer. They will have reached a high level of performance and have advanced skills and knowledge of training and bouldering as well as experience of local and national competitions. This Level will require considerable effort and motivation over a minimum period of 12 months.