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      Understanding the IRATA L1 Syllabus: Changeovers

      Switching from ascent to descent mode (and vice versa) is one of the core rope access techniques and involves switching between your descending and ascending devices so that, while you’re in suspension, you can change direction easily at any point. This technique also serves as the basis for other complicated maneuvers such as rope to rope transfers and re-belays. Simply put, it is the foundation of every maneuver you will be asked to demonstrate.

      Changeovers take some practice, and you’ll be closely supervised by your trainers while you’re in the learning stage, but it shouldn’t take very long for you to get the hang of it. That said, this maneuver will always require your full attention no matter how long you’ve been at this. Mistakes happen when we go into autopilot, so stay sharp.

      All levels are required to demonstrate competence while completing this maneuver. During your IRATA assessment, your assessor will be watching to make sure that you:

      1. Load both of your main attachments so that you have an attachment to change into, before committing to leaving the first attachment (it’s a major discrepancy if you ever go down to one point). Basically, do not take anything off before putting something on first.
      2. Complete the maneuver fluidly and without any significant hesitation. This usually comes from spreading your gear too far apart along the rope system. If your hand ascender is too high, or your descending device too low, you're going to have a bad time.
      3. Use caution whenever you’re moving a device between the rope system and your harness. You don’t want to drop it!
      4. Correctly manage your backup device while changing direction.

      And that’s it. This is a pretty basic one, but like we mentioned above, it will inform a whole lot of other maneuvers you do as a rope tech.

      Additional resources to check out

      TACS 6.6.5 for the source material for this blog.


      This is part of an ongoing series, where we’re breaking down IRATA’s syllabus and clarifying exactly what ‘demonstrating competence’ and ‘demonstrating awareness’ means, and what will be expected of you on assessment day. To learn more about the rest of the IRATA L1 Syllabus, click below: 

      Succeed your IRATA L1