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.

Rock Climbing Instructor

Is the Rock Climbing Instructor qualification 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)

You also need to:

  • Have an account with the Mountain Training Candidate Management System
  • Be registered on the Rock Climbing Instructor scheme (this costs £45)


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

Single Pitch Award training lasts for 2 days.

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, etiquette and ethics)

Detailed information on each of the above topics can be found in the Rock Climbing Instructor handbook 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.


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, up to 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.