Rock Climbing Instructor

This qualification is all about supervising safe climbing and abseiling sessions on single pitch crags and artificial structures. Whether you're a parent, a volunteer or an outdoor centre instructor, the Rock Climbing Instructor qualification trains and assesses experienced rock climbers to instruct climbing.

This qualification used to be called Single Pitch Award which was revised following a review and relaunched under this new name on 2nd April, 2018.

Is it for me?

The prerequisites for registration are as follows:
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You should be an experienced indoor and outdoor rock climber.
  • You should have a genuine interest in climbing and the supervision of 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: Frequently asked questions

Leading in Pembrokeshire cTheClimbingCompany


Before you book onto a Rock Climbing Instructor training course, make sure you have done the following:
  • You must be registered on the scheme.
You must have an up to date logbook (preferably DLOG) with evidence of the following:
  • 15 led routes which must be graded rock climbs with traditional protection.
  • 15 led routes at a climbing wall.
  • 5 led routes which must be outdoor bolt protected sport climbs.
Rock Climbing Instructor training lasts for 3 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

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 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 (below) and the onus is on you to be competent in all of them by the time you come to assessment - use the Skills Checklist to help with this.

Handbook and Skills Checklist

Rock Climbing Instructor Candidate Handbook
Latest version 1.1 uploaded 12/12/2018

Abseiling near Llanberis


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 attend a Rock Climbing Instructor assessment, make sure you have done the following:
  • You must have attended a Rock Climbing Instructor (or Single Pitch Award) training course or been granted exemption from training.
  • You must be familiar with the syllabus.
  • You must be competently leading Severe grade climbs on outdoor crags with leader-placed protection.
  • You must have led 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).
  • You must be proficient in the use of climbing walls and have a minimum of 30 climbing wall leads graded at F4 or above.
  • You must be proficient in outdoor bolt protected sport climbing and have a minimum of 10 sport climb leads graded at F4 or above.*
  • You must have assisted in the supervision of 20 instructed sessions. 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.
  • You must have physically attended and completed (i.e. not online) a first aid course which involved at least two full days or sixteen hours of instruction and included an element of assessment.
*Mountain Training recognises that these changes to the prerequisites may present challenges for those who have already completed their Single Pitch Award training and wish to attend a Rock Climbing Instructor assessment. Therefore there will be leeway given on the outdoor sport climbs requirement for Rock Climbing Instructor assessment for those who have already completed their Single Pitch Award training, until 31st December 2018. The minimum requirement of 10 outdoor sport climbs can be waived for such candidates during this period, provided that they have met the minimum indoor climbing requirement. It should be noted that this does not affect the standard of the assessment and candidates may be asked to complete a lead sport climb on their assessment course. From 1st January 2019 all of the prerequisites of the scheme will have to be met by all Rock Climbing Instructor candidates.

The Rock Climbing Instructor assessment is 2 days long.

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

Rock Climbing Instructor profiles

These individuals gained the Single Pitch Award which was revised and renamed on 2nd April, 2018.

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

A qualified instructor can:
  • Teach climbing skills.
  • Take people climbing, bouldering and abseiling.
  • Manage groups safely in these activities.
It is valid throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland 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
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