Single Pitch Award (SPA)

Upcoming Courses

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The number of organised groups enjoying rock climbing and abseiling on outcrops, crags, quarries and climbing walls has multiplied in recent years. Mountain Training is concerned that high standards of supervision are maintained, so that both enjoyment and safety are enhanced, without compromising either the sport of climbing or the participation of other crag or wall users. High standards of supervision and organisation are best achieved through experience, personal qualities, training and validation.

This scheme has been designed to provide a level of basic competence for those who are in a position of responsibility during single pitch rock climbing activities. Whilst the award does include some elements of personal competence it is not designed as a measure of such. It should not be used as either an entry requirement or measure of suitability for individuals who wish to climb on climbing walls or crags.

Experience Requirements

Please consider the advice given below. You should note that the figures given are absolute minimums and that most successful candidates have well in excess of the experience outlined:

  • To be involved in the Single Pitch Award scheme you need to be a rock climber and have an interest in the supervision of novices in the activity. A minimum of 12 months rock climbing experience is required.
  • Before attending a training course you must first register with one of the four Mountain Training Boards. This will provide you with a logbook and your personal details will be entered on the national database.
  • You must have led at least 15 climbs outdoors on routes where the protection is leaderplaced. Without having done at least this amount of leading you are unlikely to play a constructive part on the course or be able to make best use of the training.
  • Between training and assessment you must consolidate new ideas and techniques and gain additional climbing experience. Your trainer will advise you about the amount and nature of the personal climbing and supervising experience you should gain.

Candidates should not present themselves for assessment until they have:

  • led a minimum of 40 climbs, outdoors on leader-placed protection. A substantial number of these must be at least Severe grade and they should be on a variety of rock types.
  • assisted with the supervision of climbing for approximately 20 sessions at a variety of locations, some outside and some indoors (a session is a half day or evening).

Scope of the scheme

The Single Pitch Award scheme is for those who are in a position of responsibility during single pitch rock climbing activities. It is primarily concerned with good practice, leading to the safe and quiet enjoyment of the activity. Completion of a training course alone, without passing the assessment course, is not a qualification in itself, although it may be of considerable personal benefit to the trainee.

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