Challenge Course Inspections
It is important to inspect all challenge course elements (high ropes, low ropes, climbing towers, etc.) prior to use. This should be done at the start of the season, after the abuse of winter, rather than at the end of the season. The inspections should be done by a qualified contractor, e.g., an ACCT (Association of Challenge Course Technology) Level 4 professional vendor member or someone with similar credentials.
Some things to consider regarding these annual inspections:
- All parts of all elements should be inspected. This includes the:
- Support structures, i.e., the trees, poles, or buildings that are a part of the element or to which the element is attached.
- Cable systems, i.e., bolt connections, wire rope (cable), cable terminations, or guys.
- Equipment, i.e., harnesses, helmets, carabiners, pulleys, and access ladders.
- Ropes (including review of the ropes log)
- Written reports should be required from the entity conducting these inspections. They should include comments regarding all aspects of each element. The documentation should be as detailed as the inspection, and should include statements that the elements are safe as found, safe with specified corrections, or unsafe even with corrections. Corrections should be detailed, with any options thoroughly explained. All documentation should be permanently maintained on file.
- A ropes log should be maintained on all ropes, even if ropes are retired after each year. Ropes should be properly cleaned (with a mild detergent), air dried (never using a dryer or application of heat), and properly stored (in a dry, cool, well ventilated space). All ropes that are used at the facility should be included in the log and all aspects of their care and maintenance should be recorded.
- All high ropes elements, towers, etc. should have their access points secured as much as practical to prevent unauthorized use of the devices. Signs should be posted stating that the course must be used only with qualified staff and that any other use is trespassing and will be prosecuted.
- In case of any significant storm (high winds, etc.), the course should be closed until its safety is verified by the inspection of a qualified contractor.
- Make certain any licensing required (e.g., for zip lines, climbing towers, or other elements) by local jurisdictions is obtained or renewed.