Alison Parker - Rock Climbing Instructor

Alison Parker seconding a trad climb

What do you do for work?

I'm a university lecturer


What do you do in your spare time?

I climb, kayak and mountain bike, and have some volunteering roles, including with Girlguiding.


When did you start climbing?

I started climbing during a multi-activity course at Glenmore Lodge as a teenager. But back then there weren't many opportunities to learn more until I got to university and joined the mountaineering club.


Have you always been active/sporty?

I always wanted to do sport but I am not very good at team ball sports which dominate school PE. So when I found climbing it was a revelation as it uses a very different skill set, both in terms of physically moving over the rock but also working as a team with your climbing partner to reach the top.


If you could go anywhere for a day’s climbing, where would it be?

My best ever trip was to the Bugaboos in Canada and I'd love to go back and complete Snowpatch Spire there.


When and why did you decide to gain the Rock Climbing Instructor qualification?

I wanted to give other girls the opportunities that I've had to learn to climb. I gained the qualification in 2006.


What were the best and most challenging things about the scheme?

The best thing is having the freedom to run sessions at the crag, when you can decide where and how your group will climb, setting them challenges that will stretch them but still give them a sense of achievement. The most challenging thing is learning how to run a group abseil session. In my personal climbing, abseiling tends to mean something has gone wrong! So it is hard to get into the mindset of abseiling for fun, and also the rope setups are very different to anything you use personally as well. But eventually I learnt how to do it and I do enjoy helping people overcome their fears and step over the edge!


What advice would you give to anyone else considering the scheme?

Try to get as much varied experience as possible between your training and assessment - working with different instructors in different locations, as well as doing your own personal climbing! Ask them why they chose to run the session in the way that they have.


What opportunities exist for Rock Climbing Instructors?

I don’t have any experience as a professional instructor; most of my instructing is with Girlguiding. There are opportunities all over the country to instruct groups of girls so get involved!


What adventures have you got planned for the future?

As an instructor, I've been involved in taking groups of Guides from Bedfordshire for their first experience of climbing outdoors. I'd love to expand that opportunity to more girls all over the country. On a personal level, I'd love to combine my climbing with my new found love of sea kayaking and go and climb some hard to access crags in Norway or the Hebrides.