Single Pitch Award Course Details


The number of organised groups enjoying rock climbing and abseiling on outcrops, crags, quarries and climbing walls has multiplied in recent years. Mountain Training is concerned that high standards of supervision are maintained, so that both enjoyment and safety are enhanced, without compromising either the sport of climbing or the participation of other crag or wall users. High standards of supervision and organisation are best achieved through experience, personal qualities, training and validation.

This scheme has been designed to provide a level of basic competence for those who are in a position of responsibility during single pitch rock climbing activities. Whilst the award does include some elements of personal competence it is not designed as a measure of such. It should not be used as either an entry requirement or measure of suitability for individuals who wish to climb on climbing walls or crags.

Experience Requirements

Please consider the advice given below. You should note that the figures given are absolute minimums and that most successful candidates have well in excess of the experience outlined:

  • To be involved in the Single Pitch Award scheme you need to be a rock climber and have an interest in the supervision of novices in the activity. A minimum of 12 months rock climbing experience is required.
  • Before attending a training course you must first register with one of the four Mountain Training Boards. This will provide you with a logbook and your personal details will be entered on the national database.
  • You must have led at least 15 climbs outdoors on routes where the protection is leaderplaced. Without having done at least this amount of leading you are unlikely to play a constructive part on the course or be able to make best use of the training.
  • Between training and assessment you must consolidate new ideas and techniques and gain additional climbing experience. Your trainer will advise you about the amount and nature of the personal climbing and supervising experience you should gain.
Candidates should not present themselves for assessment until they have:
  • led a minimum of 40 climbs, outdoors on leader-placed protection. A substantial number of these must be at least Severe grade and they should be on a variety of rock types.
  • assisted with the supervision of climbing for approximately 20 sessions at a variety of locations, some outside and some indoors (a session is a half day or evening).

Scope of the scheme

The Single Pitch Award scheme is for those who are in a position of responsibility during single pitch rock climbing activities. It is primarily concerned with good practice, leading to the safe and quiet enjoyment of the activity. Completion of a training course alone, without passing the assessment course, is not a qualification in itself, although it may be of considerable personal benefit to the trainee.

It is valid throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland (Mountain Training UK National Guidelines 2004) and is recognised by the Adventure Activities Licensing Scheme.

For the purposes of this Single Pitch Award scheme, a single pitch route is one which:
  • is climbed without intermediate stances.
  • is described as a single pitch in the guidebook.
  • allows climbers to be lowered to the ground at all times.
  • is non-tidal, non-serious and has little objective danger.
  • presents no difficulties on approach or retreat, such as route finding, scrambling or navigating.
It will be the responsibility of the employer or organising authority to develop management strategies for the employment of award holders outwith this remit.

If you are in doubt about a particular venue then the officers of Mountain Training, Mountaineering Instructors or members of the British Association of Mountain Guides are the appropriate people to approach for advice.

It is the duty of the employer or organising authority to decide whether a leader possesses the personal attributes needed to take responsibility for the care of young people and beginners. It is the combination of technical skills, wide experience and personal qualities that forms the basis for effective supervision. This scheme assesses the technical skills and experience; the employer or organising authority must gauge the personal qualities.

The Single Pitch Award scheme does not cover:
  • general mountaineering skills, such as those needed to approach and return from remote mountain and moorland crags.
  • multi-pitch rock climbing skills, the teaching or supervision of leading, (these are covered by the Mountaineering Instructor Scheme).
  • access to tidal sea cliffs or any other location where escape is not easily possible.
  • the gauging of a candidate’s personal qualities.

Stages in the Scheme

The Single Pitch Award scheme consists of six stages:
  • Gain personal rock climbing experience.
  • Register for the award and join a mountaineering council or an affiliated mountaineering or climbing club.
  • Attend a training course (minimum two days and 20 hours contact time with the trainers).
  • Consolidate experience.
  • Attend an assessment course (minimum two days and 20 hours contact time with the assessors).
  • Continue to gain and record experience and any relevant additional training.