Unit of competency details

SISOABN304A - Establish ropes for single pitch abseiling on natural surfaces (Release 2)


Usage recommendation:
Is superseded by SISOABS006 - Establish ropes for single pitch abseiling on natural surfacesNot equivalent. Unit recategorised to Abseiling. Significant additions to knowledge evidence. 10/Sep/2019
Supersedes and is equivalent to SROABN004A - Establish ropes for single pitch abseiling on natural surfacesE Updated and equivalent to SROABN004A Establish ropes for single pitch abseiling on natural surfaces 06/Jun/2011

ReleaseRelease date
2 (this release) 28/Nov/2011
(View details for release 1) 07/Jun/2011


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 092101 Sport And Recreation Activities  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 092101 Sport And Recreation Activities  18/Nov/2011 
The content being displayed has been produced by a third party, while all attempts have been made to make this content as accessible as possible it cannot be guaranteed. If you are encountering issues following the content on this page please consider downloading the content in its original form

Modification History

Not Applicable

Unit Descriptor

This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to independently select fixed or natural anchors for the attachment of ropes and equipment for belays, such as tapes and karabiners. These anchors are to be used to establish belay systems and ropes on single-pitch natural abseiling surfaces and must be able to accommodate different belayer and abseiler abilities.

Application of the Unit

This unit applies to those required to establish ropes for abseiling activities.

This unit may also apply to leaders working for outdoor education or adventure providers; volunteer groups; not-for-profit organisations or government agencies.

Licensing/Regulatory Information

No licensing, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of endorsement.



Employability Skills Information

This unit contains employability skills

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements and Performance Criteria



Elements describe the essential outcomes of a unit of competency

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised text is used, further information is detailed in the required skills and knowledge section and the range statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the evidence guide.

1. Select suitable equipment for abseiling and belay system.

1.1. Select an abseiling and belay system  according to contextual issues  and to minimise environmental impact .

1.2. Identify and select equipment  according to relevant . legislation  and organisational policies and procedures 

1.3. Select anchors  that meet the requirements of the abseil and abilities of the participants .

1.4. Assess condition of the anchors , including performance under likely load .

1.5. Choose a belay device  that is suitable to the natural surface conditions and belayer's ability.

1.6. Complete all necessary equipment safety checks , and action unsafe equipment according to organisational policies and procedures.

2. Set up belay system.

2.1. Rig multiple anchors, ensuring equalisation and minimal shock loading.

2.2. Tie knots  and rig ropes suitable for the type of belay system established.

2.3. Establish a belay from which the belayer is able to escape and safely perform a rescue.

2.4. Avoid or remove belay hazards , to maintain safety of belayer .

2.5. Determine the need for, and establish, back up belay systems.

3. Rig rope pitches.

3.1. Identify safe access to and egress from the site.

3.2. Identify ascent and descent route appropriate to context.

3.3. Select and tie knots suitable for the type of system established and for potential retrieval or rescue situations.

Required Skills and Knowledge

This section describes the skills and knowledge required for this unit.

Required skills 

  • language and literacy skills to:
  • implement organisational policies and procedures
  • comply with legislative requirements
  • problem-solving skills to select appropriate anchors and belay systems for the context and conditions of abseiling activity
  • rope handling and knot tying skills to rig ropes and anchors adequately and safely
  • first aid and emergency response skills appropriate to the location to enable initial response to emergencies and personal health care.

Required knowledge 

  • relevant legislation and organisational policies and procedures to enable the safe conduct of all abseiling activities
  • minimal impact codes to enable protection of the environment
  • equipment types, characteristics and technology used to establish belays for abseiling on natural surfaces
  • care and maintenance of equipment to ensure prolonged life span and safety requirements, as advised by the manufacturer's specifications and recommendations for equipment use
  • belay and anchor systems appropriate for single pitch natural surfaces
  • technical abseiling and equipment knowledge to establish top, self belay and bottom brake
  • types of knots, their advantages and disadvantages and their impact on roping activities
  • emergency procedures, potential hazards and obstacles relevant to the location to ensure safety of self and others.

Evidence Guide

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:

  • independently selects appropriate equipment and carries out safety checks to ensure effective working order
  • uses discretion and judgement to determine belay system required for abseiling in single pitch contexts
  • differentiates between the different types of belay systems, anchors and knots and their suitability to different rigging situations
  • determines the need for, and establishes belay systems to ensure safety of self and other participants.

Context of and specific resources for assessment 

Assessment must ensure participation in rigging of equipment for different situations to demonstrate competency and consistency of performance.

Assessment must also ensure access to:

  • resources and information regarding abseiling and belaying equipment
  • single pitch cliff sites suitable for the participants with simple obstacles and features that allow participant to demonstrate rigging skills
  • other abseiling participants, to assist in belaying and rigging
  • equipment such as harnesses, belay systems, descending devices, ropes, karabiners and first aid 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 ensure safe and appropriate use of all abseiling equipment
  • observation of safe participation and demonstration of setting up belay systems suitable to different contexts and participants
  • observation of dealing with contingencies, such as equipment failure
  • third-party reports from a supervisor detailing performance.

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

  • SISOABN303A Apply single pitch abseiling skills on natural surfaces.

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.

Abseiling and belay system  may include:

  • twin rope
  • single rope
  • top belay
  • self belay
  • bottom brake.

Contextual issues  may include:

  • weather conditions, including times
  • season
  • transport
  • location
  • trip distance and duration
  • group objectives
  • group size.

Environmental impact  may include:

  • rock dislodgement
  • compacting of soil
  • damage to flora, fauna, and the environment
  • effect on other users of the site.

Equipment  may include:

  • ropes
  • tape slings
  • karabiners
  • rope protectors
  • belay devices.

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 and maintenance of equipment
  • emergency procedures
  • code of ethics.

Anchors  may include:

  • trees
  • threads
  • bolts
  • chains
  • bollards
  • boulders
  • pitons.

Participants  may include:

  • experienced
  • inexperienced
  • adults
  • children.

Condition of the anchors  may include:

  • age
  • location
  • wear
  • decay
  • corrosion
  • environmental stress
  • insect damage.

Likely load  may include:

  • group size
  • set up
  • abseiler ability
  • technique
  • possible forces generated during a fall
  • type of abseil conducted.

Belay device  may include:

  • plate devices
  • auto-locking devices
  • tubular devices
  • improvised device.

Safety checks  may include:

  • corrosion
  • abrasion
  • impact
  • aging
  • cracks
  • deformities
  • fissures.

Knots  may include:

  • end-of-rope knots
  • mid-rope knots
  • rope joining knots
  • tape knot.

Hazards  may include:

  • temperature extremes
  • slippery or unstable terrain
  • dangerous animals and insects
  • stinging trees and nettles
  • dense vegetation
  • group management hazards.

Safety of belayer  must include:

  • attachment to anchor or alternate safety system
  • positioning out of direct line of rock or equipment fall.

Unit Sector(s)

Outdoor Recreation

Competency Field

Abseiling natural surface