An important part of the Rock Climbing Instructor assessment (and a vitally important part of our working day on the crags) is providing a safe environment for ourselves and our groups. Knowing how to problem-solve is obviously a skill we need to have; however, the best way to solve problems is to reduce the chance of problems occurring in the first place. We can achieve this by putting robust procedures in place when we are working with our groups out on the crags.

Choosing a site
When choosing a site for our group climbing we need to consider the Mountain Training description of a single pitch venue. They state that:

‘For the purpose of the Rock Climbing Instructor 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 navigation’

( 2015)

Checks to put in place:
Group management:

  • Group is briefed
  • Safe areas are identified
  • Harnesses and helmets are fitted correctly
  • Long hair is tied back
  • Loose clothing is tucked in


Site and set ups:

  • Ropes and equipment are in good order
  • Anchors are solid
  • Placements are secure
  • Anchors are equalised
  • Knots are tied correctly, and stoppers used where appropriate
  • Karabiners are done up and loaded correctly
  • Belays are in line
  • Rope guards are in place
  • There are no trailing ropes or equipment that could cause a trip hazard
  • Any spare or unused equipment is stored in a safe area


What would happen if…?
Ask yourself this simple question. What would happen if…? E.g. if you left a mess of trailing ropes on top of the crag. (You can answer this yourself!)

Take a look at these photos of various problems and have a go at solving them [solutions at foot of page].

WLA SPA problem solving

Photo solutions:

Abseiler has hair caught in figure of eight.


Bottom rope, rope stuck in crack above and out of reach of climber.


Climber has foot stuck in crack.


Climber has harness leg loop stuck on hold lowering on bottom rope.


Climber on bottom rope climbs diagonally off line and can’t climb back.