Rock Climbing Instructor Courses in the Lake District

Setting up a belay on a rock climbing Instructor course - chris ensoll mountain guide

Following a review of all the climbing awards by Mountain Training, the Single Pitch Award was replaced by the Rock Climbing Instructor on 2nd April 2018. The Rock Climbing Instructor is a national qualification which provides a level of basic competence for those who are in a position of responsibility on single pitch crags and artificial structures. It focuses on good practice which allows safe and quiet enjoyment of the sport, and it is valid throughout the UK and Ireland. Chris is approved by Mountain Training as a course provider for the Rock Climbing Instructor award. You can read more about it below, and you can check out the Rock Climbing Instructor page on the Mountain Training website.

Why book with us?

There are a huge number of Rock Climbing Instructor course providers throughout Britain, so why should you book with us? 

  1. We present the course syllabus in a relaxed, fun atmosphere, with the emphasis on interactive learning to encourage you to ask questions and get the most out of your time with us.

  2. We view the assessment course as an opportunity for extending your learning and competence.

  3. We offer discounts to returning clients: 5% off to any candidate who has previously done a Mountain Training qualification course with us.

  4. Our clients think we do a great job! Check out some of their comments towards the bottom of the page.

What are the pre-requisites for the Rock Climbing Instructor?

Before you book onto a Rock Climbing Instructor training course, you need to:

  • be at least 18 years old

  • be an experienced indoor and outdoor rock climber

  • have a genuine interest in climbing and the supervision of groups

  • register on the scheme at Mountain Training and have an account on Mountain Training’s Candidate Management System, which includes a digital logbook (DLOG)

  • join a Mountaineering Council (the British Mountaineering Council, Mountaineering Council of Scotland or Mountaineering Ireland)

  • have led at least 15 graded rock climbs with traditional protection

  • have led at least 15 climbing wall routes

  • have led at least 5 outdoor bolt protected sport climbs

  • enter your climbing experience in your DLOG

The consolidation period:

The period between training and assessment varies in length for each person. It is an opportunity to develop your skills, paying particular attention to any weaknesses identified during the training course. All but the most experienced candidates should allow a minimum of six months between training and assessment, but there is no time limit. 

You need to:

  • climb at a wide range of venues and on a variety of rock types, both as an individual and when assisting with the supervision of others.

  • assist in the supervision of approximately 20 instructed sessions post training. These sessions should be at a variety of different venues with 10 being on indoor climbing walls and the other 10 on outdoor crags. A session is a half day or evening. At least five of these sessions must have personal reflective comments recorded on DLOG.

Before you book onto a Rock Climbing Instructor assessment course, you need to:

  • attend a Rock Climbing Instructor or Single Pitch Award training course or been granted exemption from training.

  • be competently leading Severe grade climbs on outdoor crags with leader-placed protection.

  • have led and logged a minimum of 40 graded rock climbs with traditional protection at a variety of venues (of which at least 20 MUST be at Severe grade or above).

  • be proficient in the use of climbing walls and have a minimum of 30 climbing wall leads graded at F4 or above.

  • be proficient in outdoor bolt protected sport climbing and have a minimum of 10 sport climb leads graded at F4 or above.

  • have assisted in the supervision of 20 instructed sessions post training. These sessions should be at a variety of different venues with 10 being on indoor climbing walls and the other 10 on outdoor crags. A session is a half day or evening.

  • hold a valid first aid certificate, minimum 16 hours and relevant to your work as a Rock Climbing Instructor holder

  • update your climbing and supervising experience in your DLOG

belaying at the top of a route on a rock climbing instructor course - chris ensoll mountain guide

What do the courses cover?

Rock Climbing Instructors should be competent in the following key areas, all of which will be covered, to a greater or lesser extent, during your training and assessment course.

  • Technical Competence (including equipment, anchors, belaying, personal skills, abseiling, background knowledge)

  • Management and Decision Making (including planning, organising, managing other staff, managing participants, knowledge and demonstration of techniques)

  • Teaching Skills

  • The Climbing Environment (including access, conservation, etiquitte and ethics)

Detailed information on each of the above topics can be found in the Rock Climbing Instructor handbook (download it from the Rock Climbing Instructor page on the Mountain Training website) and the onus is on you to be competent in all of them by the time you come to assessment.

Rock Climbing Instructor training courses are two days or three days. Anyone who has completed the Climbing Wall Award training or Climbing Wall Instructor training can do the two-day course, whilst everyone else does the three-day course which includes a full day at a climbing wall. The Rock Climbing Instructor assessment course is two days for everyone.

Where are the courses based?

All our scheduled courses are based in the southern and central Lake District. We use single pitch crags in the Langdale Valley, Little Langdale, Tilberthwaite, Lower Eskdale. Our choice of crag varies with each course, depending on the weather conditions and the participants. We occasionally have to travel to North Yorkshire and Lancashire to escape the Lake District weather. The climbing wall day is done at Kendal Climbing Wall. We can also provide courses in other parts of the country on request.

If you need to book accommodation, Ambleside is a good base. Info and ideas for accommodation can be downloaded here: Lake District travel and accommodation

What equipment will I need?

You can download a full kit list here

What about transport?

You may be asked to use your car during the course to travel to the training venues each day. If you would like to travel to the Lakes by train, we may be able to pick you up from Windermere railway station.

How much will it cost?

All the following course fees are non-residential
Training: three-day course including the climbing wall day: £240
Training: two-day course without the climbing wall day: £160 (£170 in 2020)
Assessment: two-day course: £160 (£170 in 2020)
5% off to any returning client.
Entry to the climbing wall is included. 

When are the courses?

Rock Climbing Instructor training two-day course
September 21st-22nd 2020

Rock Climbing Instructor training three-day course
September 26th-28th 2019
April 20th-22nd 2020

Rock Climbing Instructor assessment
October 7th-8th 2019
March 18th-19th 2020
October 1st-2nd 2020

If you have a group of two or more, we can put on a bespoke training or assessment course on a date to suit you.

Useful blog posts

SPA assessment day one, 9th February 2015
Cow's Tails: Dynamic Rope or Sling?
How To Build Good Belays Part 1: Selecting Your Anchors
Build your first climbing rack
How To Use Prusiks
How To Build Good Belays Part 2: Tying In To Your Anchors
Confused? You’re Not Alone
7 Ways To Make Your Goals More Achievable in 2017
What Should You Expect On Your Single Pitch Award Training Course?
Do You Know The Ropes?
7 Top Tips For Rock Climbers & Mountaineers
7 Ways To Make Your Goals More Achievable In 2018 (And How We Did In 2017)
So What's The New Rock Climbing Instructor Qualification All About?
How To Stay Dry Whatever The Weather #2: Boots
Managing Risk in the Mountains #1: The Three Variables
Managing Risk in the Mountains #2: Heuristics & Mind Sets
So What Do I Carry In My First Aid Kit?
My Top Three Favourite Rucksacks and Why I Like Them

practising belays on a rock climbing instructor course - chris ensoll mountain guide

Useful resources

Mountain Training
Rock Climbing Essential Skills and Techniques by Libby Peter
Mountain Training climbing awards downloads
The British Mountaineering Council
Mountaineering Scotland
Mountaineering Ireland
Mountain Training Association

What do our clients say about us?

A big thank you for the SPA training. I will certainly come to you for an assessment - you can bank on excellent recommendations from me! 
Kevin White, Single Pitch Award training, May 2009

Thanks again for an unforgettable couple of days - taken in so much, learned loads and had fun to boot. 
Sean Turner, Single Pitch Award training, May 2009

More than I could possibly have anticipated. I came away learning so much and realising I knew so little. Fantastic instruction over a wealth of topics not just specifically related to the SPA. Chris gave his time and experience very generously and freely, far more than I feel was required by the assessment. A fantastic two days which feels like a weeks worth of activity. That has to be good value. Chris's knowledge and experience was exceptional and his generosity with it was inspiring. The assessment was far beyond any expectation I had. Brilliant.
John Deakin, Single Pitch Award assessment, November 2014

I didn't just go through assessment, I almost feel I learnt more bonus material on assessment then I did on training with a different provider. This was the only course that fit in with my work schedule, I knew nothing of Chris before this course, it was a lucky chance and I will recommend to others.
Oli Martin, Single Pitch Award assessment, April 2016

Although the course was initially booked up, I received an email saying the course had been extended to 8 people. All emailing back and forth was very friendly and professional, payment was very easy and other information was received in plenty of time. All aspects of the syllabus was covered in a very comfortable and relaxing way. I have known Chris for a little while now and despite knowing other providers, Chris seemed the best choice by far.
Ashlea Bennett, Single Pitch Award assessment, April 2016

I thought Chris was great. He was an inspiring person to spend 2 days with. He was clear about what he wanted, extremely friendly and encouraging. For me, he made the assessment a really enjoyable 2 days, I learnt a lot and felt like Chris really cared about what he was doing. I was recommended to do my assessment with Chris from several people, all saying that he was the best instructor that they had either worked with or been trained/assessed by. Thank you for being inspiring, positive and encouraging. You have changed how I view assessments and I am now really excited to take the next steps.
Alice Kerr, Single Pitch Award assessment, October 2016

While it definitely felt like an assessment, it also didn't  - there were times where it felt like a group of climbers at the crag for a day's climbing, and at the same time there was lots of learning as well, not just from Chris but from each other as well. Chris was brilliant, couldn't fault him at all, really relaxed but at the same time on it as well, always got lots of suggestions on how to improve things that were really useful. I look forward to doing some other things with him. I had lots of recommendations from other previous clients who recommended you, really wish I had known sooner than I did as I would have done other courses with you.
Nathan Hughes, Single Pitch Award assessment, April 2017

Chris's laid back approach takes away the feeling of being assessed, creating a constant learning environment. What a great course, I have come from a military background where in some cases the adventure training instruction is very prescriptive and there at times can be very much a “right or wrong” attitude. As soon as I met Chris he put me at ease, even though you are being assessed it felt just as if I was spending a weekend with some friends climbing. If you did something differently, providing it was safe and you could justify it, Chris would give you a thumbs up. The whole course was a learning experience not only in the many new things we taught each other but constant thought provoking observations from Chris.
Lee Payne, Single Pitch Award assessment, June 2017

Chris and Colin were amazing during the assessment, they showed encouragement and even when things didn't go to plan they were supportive and understanding and at no point made me feel under pressure. I was still able to learn so much on my assessment and have the opportunity to put what I had learnt into practice over the 2 days that I feel I have come away from my assessment with a lot more than just my qualification, and look forward to implementing what I have learnt into my future climbing and working adventures. Thank you again to Colin for being so supportive towards me when it seemed everything had gone wrong and reminding me that not everything will go to plan when you're an instructor - its how you deal with it that counts.
Serena Neale,
 Single Pitch Award assessment, March 2018

I booked with Chris because I had heard a lot of good things about him, I also have done the majority of my qualifications with the same provider and wanted to experience a different view point. This was also very helpful as Chris is the first British Mountain Guide I have worked with and this perspective really made me look at what I do and why I do it that way.
Richard Collingwood, Rock Climbing Instructor assessment, May 2018

Chris was absolutely fantastic! With him sharing his incredible knowledge and experience throughout the whole course, it felt more like a training course than an assessment as I learnt so much from it! I cannot praise Chris any higher, superb!
Ian Doctor, Rock Climbing Instructor assessment, May 2018

Chris is an extremely knowledgeable instructor with a wealth of real experience in the subjects. His feedback was positive and useful and made the assessment process feel really relaxed. I feel I came out of the assessment knowing more than when I began.
Dan Horsfield, Rock Climbing Instructor assessment, May 2018

Best instructor I've ever had. Approachable and infectiously enthusiastic. Encouraged questions and explained reasoning behind the answers. Absolutely excellent. I came away feeling very positive and looking forward to putting what I learned into practice and then progressing to my assesment.
Anna Studholme, Rock Climbing Instructor training, April 2019

Great communication from Anne, and very detailed and helpful information on what equipment was needed, what the course would entail etc. Chris was an excellent instructor, obviously very knowledgeable and experienced but what stood out for me most was his way of teaching. He put me at ease immediately and made the three days a relaxed and enjoyable experience.
Charlie Starley, Rock Climbing Instructor training, April 2019