What’s in a name?

A fresh look at our climbing schemes

As part of the climbing awards review we have considered the naming of our schemes. Our qualitative (discussion based) and quantitative (individual and organisation surveys) research revealed a desire for “Greater understanding of the awards, their remit and functions… In particular, this related to the need for a greater public understanding of the scheme via the titles of the awards. Respondents felt that these should reflect the award holders’ role, function and environment of work in a lay-persons’ language.” (UCLan final report.)

The Single Pitch Award in particular was highlighted by one respondent as being “in a private language” as a single pitch could refer to someone throwing a baseball once. Only those with knowledge of outdoor climbing understand what a single pitch is in a climbing context.

After much debate and discussion, a final decision was made which enables us to refer to all individuals with a climbing qualification as ‘instructors’ rather than ‘award holders’ – this is much more in line with the language used by the public to define a person’s role.

Bouldering in a climbing wall cIainMcKenzie

The following names will become the official titles of the qualifications and skills scheme from the point of launch (or re-launch in the case of the existing schemes) – see below for more information.

Indoor Climbing Assistant
Climbing Wall Instructor – Formerly the Climbing Wall Award
Climbing Wall Development Instructor – Formerly the Climbing Wall Leading Award
Rock Climbing Instructor – Formerly the Single Pitch Award
Rock Climbing Development Instructor

The Mountaineering Instructor scheme names will not be considered until the pathway to these qualifications has been concluded i.e. it may or may not change in the not too distant future but that would be a formal decision of MTUK at a subsequent meeting.

In the case of our skills courses, akin to our existing Hill & Mountain Skills schemes we have:

Rock Skills
  • Rock Skills Introduction
  • Rock Skills Intermediate
  • Rock Skills Learning to Lead Sport Climbs
  • Rock Skills Learning to Lead Trad Climbs


The new and existing schemes will be launched in three phases.

Phase one will begin this autumn and continue through the beginning of next year. On 2nd April 2018, the existing qualifications (Climbing Wall Award, Single Pitch Award, Climbing Wall Leading Award, Mountaineering Instructor Award, Foundation Coach and Development Coach) will be relaunched, some under a new name.

Phase two: summer 2018. The three levels of Rock Skills and the Climbing Assistant will be launched.

Phase three: At the start of the autumn 2018, the new qualification for teaching leading on single pitch crags will be launched.

The launch process for new schemes involves recruiting and inducting providers and course directors which can take a few months. As a result the new schemes may not be available to candidates straight away.


See also:
Climbing Awards Review update - Oct 2017
Climbing Awards Review - candidate transition arrangements
Climbing Awards Review FAQs

This article was posted on 23/10/2017.