Single Pitch Award

This qualification was revised and renamed the Rock Climbing Instructor qualification in April 2018. The information on this page is out of date and will soon be unavailable.

This award is all about supervising safe climbing and abseiling sessions on single pitch crags. Whether you're a parent, a volunteer or an outdoor centre instructor, the Single Pitch Award has been designed to maintain high standards of supervision so that people can enjoy safe sessions in this increasingly popular sport.

Is it for me?

The prerequisites for registration are as follows:
  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You should have at least 12 months of rock climbing experience
  • You should have an interest in supervising novice climbing groups
  • You must be a member of a mountaineering council: BMC, Mountaineering Scotland or Mountaineering Ireland (you can join one when you register if you're not already a member) - find out why
If you can tick all of the above boxes, here's what to do next:
  • Create an account on our Candidate Management System or log in if you already have one.
  • Register for the Single Pitch Award scheme (this costs £45)

Register for Award

Top RopingFind a Course


Before you book onto a Single Pitch Award training course, make sure you have done the following:
  • You must be registered on the scheme
  • You must have led 15 routes on single pitch crags using leader-placed protection
Single Pitch Award training lasts for 2 days and will be run by one of our approved Providers in the UK or Ireland. 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.

Find a course

The Syllabus

Single Pitch 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 equipment, anchors, belaying, abseiling, personal climbing skills, background knowledge
  • The Climbing Environment (including access, conservation, etiquitte)
  • Supervision (including organisation, group management, supervising the session, personal safety and children and vulnerable persons)
Detailed information on each of the above topics can be found in the Single Pitch 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


Single Pitch Award FAQsSupervising a group


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. So go climbing and use your enthusiasm to hone your skills for as long as you like.


Before you book onto a Single Pitch Award assessment, make sure you have done the following:
  • You must have attended a Single Pitch Award training course or been granted exemption
  • You must have logged a minimum of 40 lead climbs, outdoors on leader-placed protection (a substantial number of these must be at least Severe grade at on a variety of rock types)
  • You must be proficient in the use of climbing walls
  • You must have assisted in the supervision of approximately 20 instructed sessions at a variety of locations, some outside and some inside (a session is a half day or evening)
  • You must hold a current first aid certificate, minimum 16 hours and relevant to your work as a Single Pitch Award holder
The Single Pitch Award assessment is 2 days long (approx. 20 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

Single Pitch Award holder profiles

Jen Crook
Jen Crook - Film-maker
Alison Parker 2
Alison Parker - Lecturer and Girlguiding volunteer

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

The 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 (MLTUK National Guidelines 2004) and is recognised by the Adventure Activities Licensing Scheme.

For the purposes of this 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
The majority of these routes must be in the UK and Ireland.

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 Mountain Guides association 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 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

OfQual Regulation and Mountain Training England