How to Book a Lead Test

To book a lead test, please call or email the front desk (call: 510.903.6722; email: [email protected]) to check when we have testing availability. Here are some tips for scheduling your test:

  • Contact us to schedule your test with as much advance notice as possible. At least 24 hours prior is best.
  • Be prepared with a few different dates and times that work for you.
  • Weekday evenings (5:30pm – 8pm) and weekends are very busy, and it’s difficult for us to schedule tests during those times. Depending on the flow of the desk the day-of, we may be able to work in an impromptu test during peak hours, but due to sudden fluctuations in member and guest arrivals, we’re not able to guarantee unscheduled tests.
  • Remember that things considered standard practice outdoors may not fly when leading in the gym. Please familiarize yourself with Touchstone safety standards and read the guidelines below in preparation for your test, and feel free to reach out to desk staff with any questions.

Qualification Guidelines

Please read the criteria below to assess if you’re qualified to take the lead test. 

You must meet ALL of the following requirements:

  • I have an up-to-date Touchstone waiver on file.
  • I have read and understand the Touchstone Rope Climbing Rules.
  • I have a Touchstone Top Rope Belay card.
  • I have a Dynamic climbing rope of at least 40 meters in length that I will bring to use for the test.
  • I have a climbing partner who has a permanent Touchstone Lead Card OR a partner who meets all the same criteria and would also like to test for their Lead Card.

You must meet ONE of the following requirements:

  • I have taken Both Lead One and Lead Two at a Touchstone Climbing Gym and practiced the skills taught in those clinics or the equivalent.
  • I have similar lead climbing experience at another Climbing Gym and have lead within the last year.
  • I have significant outdoor lead experience and have lead within the last year.

Minimum Requirements for Safe Lead Climbing

All lead climbers and lead belayers must be lead checked by gym staff by climbing a route that we select. The leader will be required to take a fall as part of the test for both the leader and the belayer. Don’t lead climb if you don’t expect to fall. The lead test must be on a 5.10b route (or harder) that is unfamiliar to the climber. The reason for this requirement is that only a 5.10b or harder has no rests. We want to ensure that a climber will make the correct safety choices even when fatigued.


  • Belayers must be confident and appear confident while belaying.
  • Lead belayers must sign into the Lead Check-In Log at the front counter each day.
  • All regular belay rules above must be followed (e.g. harness doubled back, belay hand always on the rope, etc.).
  • Belayers must remain attentive to lead climbers at all times and stand while belaying.
  • Belayers must keep minimal slack—rope must not dip below the knees.
  • Belayer must take the leader fall without losing control and with minimal rope play.
  • Belayer must belay immediately underneath the first clip until climber has clipped at least the 4th quickdraw and even after, must stay within a reasonable distance from the wall.


  • Lead climbers must appear safe and confident while leading.
  • Lead climbers must sign into the Lead Check-In Log at the front counter each day.
  • Lead climbers must bring their own lead rope.
  • Leader must clip all quickdraws, in order.
  • Leader must clip carabiners in correct direction, without trouble.
  • Lead climbers must clip between their waist and head level, or higher if safe and in control.
  • Leader must be willing to take a reasonable fall.

Before Booking a Lead Test:

Our lead test is strictly for climbers and belayers who are prepared to pass the test. It is forbidden to use the lead test as a form of practice and violators may be barred from testing in the future. Though we do offer lead tests during normal business hours, certain constraints make it very challenging to administer tests as it is often busy.

Please be sure to receive no training or practice the day of your test. It is up to the discretion of staff to decide whether you are prepared to take our lead test. Be aware that you may not be permitted to test even with an appointment. Finally, as stated in our “word on safety”: Regarding lead climbing—if climbing is risky, lead climbing is simply dangerous. While Touchstone supports this form of climbing by placing draws on most walls, lead climbing in our gyms should not be practiced by anyone but experts.

Since we do not charge to test, you will be assessed a $10 no-show fee if you do not cancel your appointment within at least 48 hours (to permit another to take your spot). Before signing up for a lead test appointment, read below.

  • Booking an appointment does not guarantee that you will be permitted to take the Lead Test. The staff may decide that you need more practice before administering a test.
  • Do not mock lead same-day
  • Do not toprope the lead test route same-day
  • Please check in with the desk staff at your appointment time and sign the lead log
  • Please bring your own 40m rope, a partner to test with, and both of your Touchstone TR belay cards