Joe Harris – Rock Climbing Development Instructor

What do you do for work?

I work as the centre manager at The Barn Climbing Centre in Devon and have been at the centre for the last 11 years. I currently hold the Rock Climbing Instructor, Climbing Wall Instructor, Climbing Wall Development Instructor and now Rock Climbing Development Instructor quals, as well as completing the Mountain Leader training and Foundation Coach training. I have also completed all four modules of Neil Gresham’s MCA academy.

Why were you interested in becoming a Rock Climbing Development Instructor?

My decision to take the Rock Climbing Development Instructor assessment was to enable me to take regular coaching clients outside beyond the remit of my Rock Climbing Instructor qual. I have worked with many of these people for a number of years, often having started with intro to belay courses, so to be able to continue their development from the very start to leading outside on sport or trad was massively appealing. Obviously this would have been already possible if I had gone down the route of Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor, however, I am based in west Devon, many miles away from the nearest mountain, so to pursue that avenue would’ve been extremely costly and inevitably meant that I decided not to do the training or assessment. I do have an interest in mountaineering but this is by no means my passion. My real drive over the last 12 years of climbing has been leading and bouldering outside. We have a rich variety of rock types and crags in the south west and this is really where my experience has been developed. With that in mind the Rock Climbing Development Instructor has enabled me to draw on all my years of climbing and use that to inspire and develop clients beyond the climbing wall and Rock Climbing Instructor type sessions.

What did you enjoy most about the training and assessment process?

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the pilot training at the end of last summer with Mark Garland. At the time I was really psyched to work on a new qualification having passed my Rock Climbing Instructor and Climbing Wall Development Instructor eight years prior to that, and feeling like my professional development had stalled somewhat due to the void between Rock Climbing Instructor and Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor. The pilot however felt more like a “work in progress” but gave me confidence to apply for assessment as soon as it was launched, as I felt I already had the necessary experience from my years of climbing and instructing/coaching. The assessment itself was probably as relaxed as I’ve been on an assessment as it was all very current for me and I felt like this is what I have been doing for years. I was confident that I already had the skills and knowledge and if I was to defer it would be very useful to know where the gaps in my knowledge were. The assessment thankfully went well as I was really pleased to have got myself on the first one to be run.

What worked well for you in preparation for assessment?

Preparation wise as I stated above I felt pretty current with what I was already doing daily at the wall, and out climbing at the weekends. I did however spend some time with a friend who is a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor in order to sharpen up on the problem solving and rescue elements as that was thankfully something that I wasn’t practising regularly.

How do you plan to use the qualification?

I intend to now use the qualification to further develop the large number of clients that I already have through the climbing wall, as well as broadening the remit of what I can offer to new customers.

What advice would you give to any Rock Climbing Instructors thinking about pursuing the next level of qualification?

My advice to Rock Climbing Instructors considering going down this route would be to first complete the Climbing Wall Development Instructor and FUNdamentals/Coaching quals as this will add considerably to the skills and knowledge required for the Rock Climbing Development Instructor.

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