Climbing Wall Leading Award

This award trains and assesses candidates in the skills required to teach lead climbing skills on indoor or outdoor artificial climbing walls and structures with fixed protection. It builds on the skills gained through either the Climbing Wall Award or Single Pitch Award, one of which candidates must hold to access the Climbing Wall Leading Award scheme.

On 2nd April, 2018 the Climbing Wall Leading Award will be revised and renamed Climbing Wall Development Instructor as a result of our Climbing Review.

Lead Climbing cLukaszWarzechaFind a Course

Is it for me?

Registration for the Climbing Wall Leading Award is an application process, during which your experience of logged sessions as a Climbing Wall Award holder or Single Pitch Award holder, along with your personal indoor climbing experience, is taken into account.

The prerequisites for registration are as follows:
  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must hold either the Climbing Wall Award or the Single Pitch Award
  • You must have an up to date logbook (ideally DLOG) with evidence of the following...
  • 50 led routes
  • Climbed at 3 different major climbing walls
  • Belayed a lead climber 50 times
  • 25 lead routes at grade F6a on indoor climbing walls
  • 20 supervising sessions after passing either Climbing Wall Award or Single Pitch Award
If you can tick all of the above boxes, here's what to do next:
  • Log in to the Candidate Management System
  • Register for the Climbing Wall Leading Award scheme (this costs £45)
Climbing Wall Leading Award FAQsLeading on an artificial wall


Training typically lasts for one day (minimum 8 hours contact time).

The Syllabus

Climbing Wall Leading Award holders should be competent in the following key areas, all of which will be covered, to a greater or lesser extent, during your training course.
  • Technical Competence (including personal climbing)
  • The Climbing Wall Environment
  • Supervision (including planning, managing and movement skills)
Detailed information on each of the above topics can be found in the Climbing Wall Award Handbook and the onus is on you to be competent in all of them by the time you come to assessment - use the Skills Checklist below to help with this.

Handbook and Skills Checklist



The period between training and assessment varies in length for each person and is an opportunity to develop your skills, paying particular attention to any weaknesses identified during the training course. You can use the excuse 'I'm preparing for assessment' to visit the wall as much as you like!

If you would like some more experience belaying lead climbers, why not volunteer to belay at the Youth Climbing Series in England and Wales, Scotland or Ireland.


Before you book onto a Climbing Wall Leading Award assessment, make sure you have done the following:
  • You must have attended a Climbing Wall Leading Award training course (or have been granted exemption)
  • You must be familiar with the syllabus
  • You must have logged a minimum of 100 different lead climbs, at least half of which must be a grade of French 6a or above
  • You must have assisted or observed at least 5 teaching leading sessions delivered by a suitably qualified person
  • You must hold a current first aid certificate, minimum 8 hours and relevant to your work as a Climbing Wall Award holder
The Climbing Wall Leading Award assessment is a minimum of 6 hours.

Assessments are run by one of our approved Providers and a variety of cost packages are available, depending on what's included; food, accommodation etc. so you can choose one that's right for you.

Support and Development

Join the Mountain Training Association and be part of a community of like-minded people on our schemes. The Association offers a range of workshops for trainee and qualified leaders and coaches across the disciplines, as well as a quarterly magazine, gear deals/discounts, a monthly newsletter and an insurance deal. You can join the Association at any point after you have registered on one of Mountain Training's leadership/coaching schemes.
MTA logo

Climbing Wall Leading Award holder profiles

Graham Little
Graham Little
Nicole Reeve
Nicole Reeve
Zoe Spriggins
Zoe Spriggins

The Scope of the Scheme

The Climbing Wall Leading Award has been designed to train and assess those who wish to teach lead climbing skills on indoor or outdoor artificial climbing walls and structures with fixed protection. This includes a wide range of structures (including, for example towers and mobile climbing walls) which will be referred to throughout as ‘walls’. These structures are deemed to have safety equipment, such as top anchors, in place and are maintained through a management regime. The award is concerned with ensuring good practice when developing leading skills. It covers the introduction, coaching and on-going development of the technical and movement skills required to lead routes. Completion of a training course, without passing the assessment, should not be considered as a qualification in itself, although it may be of benefit to the trainee.

The award includes a measure of personal competence. However, it is not a personal proficiency programme and should not be used as either an entry requirement, or a measure of suitability for climbing on artificial walls. The award is valid throughout the UK and wherever UK qualifications are recognised.

For the purposes of the Climbing Wall Leading Award, a climbing wall is:
  • An artificial structure, designed for the purpose of being used for climbing activities (this includes towers and mobile climbing walls), with fixed protection e.g. bolts
  • Indoors or outdoors
  • A structure which has safety equipment such as top anchors in place and is maintained through a management regime
  • The employer or organising authority must have appropriate management structures in place if they wish to employ CWLA holders for duties beyond the remit of the award.
The CWLA does not cover
  • the skills needed to climb and/or supervise others on natural crags and former quarries
  • multi-pitch rock climbing skills
  • the teaching or supervision of leading on outdoor crags
  • the placing of non-fixed protection
  • the use of high or low ropes courses
  • the use of ice climbing walls including dry tooling
  • the assessment of candidates’ personal qualities
  • a Criminal Records Bureau check
If you are in doubt about a particular venue, consult a qualified Mountaineering Instructor (MIA or MIC) or British Mountain Guide (UIAGM). Mountain Training officers may also be consulted.

The Book - Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing has been written for people working their way through the climbing schemes and it's packed with colourful diagrams, photographs and simple language. It covers the full spectrum of modern climbing practice including movement skills, knots, bouldering, sport, trad and indoor climbing as well as risk management and problem solving.

Rock Climbing

Get Book

OfQual Regulation of Mountain Training England