Vertical Leader Core Skills Day Assessment

To pass your core skills assessment I’d expect to see efficient safe user friendly rigging, ensuring you look after yourself appropriately, check any fixed aids before use and looking after your ropes. During your assessment you’ll be asked to rig and manage an abseil for group, ladder for group and a traverse as well as problem solve some realistic scenarios with each of these.

Note: SRT for leader is not mandatory however if you wish to complete this module please let me know and we can include it in the assessment.

Up to 2 candidates can be assessed for this module at the same time.

Before your assessment

Make sure you’ve read and understand the syllabus:


Please double check the pre-requisites outlined in the Course Description as I cannot add you to the Qualification Management System (QMS) unless you satisfy these.

Before committing to an assessment I’ll need to see evidence that you have the pre-requsite experience: logged an additional 30 vertical trips and have clearly nominated 5 of those trips as “quality days” as defined in the BCA course description (see below).

Click here for the BCAs definition of a quality day

Quality Day

A quality day should satisfy at least 4 of the following criteria:

  • Exploration of a new route or cave (new to the candidate that is)
  • Incorporates at least 4 to 5 hours of underground exploration
  • An experience that develops an individuals caving knowledge, skills and awareness
  • Incorporates caving skills above the level of the candidate’s qualification
  • Of the candidates own making i.e. the candidate is to lead the trip, or it is one done with peers 
and not led by an external source
  • For Vertical Leaders an extension of vertical skills, digging or exploration
  • Exploration of caves with a streamway that responds to rainfall

Candidates are to nominate 5 of their logged trips as quality days and justify this selection to the 
Trainer/Assessor using the above criteria.

If you attended a training course prior to the 7th of September 2020 I’ll need to see your S4B training page from your Level 2 training and if you have it your Cave or Mine Leader certificate. If you attended a Vertical Leader training course after that date your derails will be on the QMS so there’s no need to send me anything other than your log book evidence.

Please note that I cannot assess you if you completed your training with me.

Before the assessment I’ll send you a question paper which I’ll need returned at least 5 days before the assessment. If you would rather answer the paper verbally we can arrange a telephone call prior to the assessment.

Around 3 days before the assessment I’ll let you know where we’re going. I’ll normally provide a plan/survey for the mine/cave we are using together with a rigging topo.

During your assessment


Bring your logbook, I’ll need to see your original certificates and log book before the assessment so please have it with you.

Make sure you’ve packed the appropriate kit for yourself, suitable for heading out with a group of capable peers. You’ll need to justify your kit choice so don’t just rely on using “the same kit as every other instructor” if you’re working at a Centre. For most assessments 2 x 30m ropes, 1 x ladder, plus 12 krabs should be appropriate for the session. You’ll also need any any personal rigging and rescue equipment.

Expect to be underground for at least 5 hours, probably more. You’ll be asked to rig a variety of pitches for group use, including a ladder pitch which you’ll be asked to both ascend and descend appropriately, abseil for group, and traverse.

You’ll also be asked to solve some realistic scenarios throughout the assessment.

Following your assessment

Once we’ve completed the trip I’ll let you know how you got on as soon as possible. The outcomes of the day may be a Pass, Fail or Defer. Following a verbal de-brief the result from the day together with some brief notes (which may include an action plan) will be added to the QMS. You’ll get an email to confirm this and if successful the Vertical Core Skills credential added to your profile, you’ll then have 12 months to complete your group day. If unsuccessful we’ll draw up an action plan to get you up to the right level and planning a way forward for you.