I have just come back from being sat in the famous climbing pilgrimage site of Pete’s Eat, you’ll be glad to know I didn’t eat the food (I am in training!). Now whilst there I observed two things the first was that only one person I know seems to have been brave enough to climb outside today, and on a north facing Dinas Mot, in the wind tunnel known as Llanberis Pass. He looked cold, very very cold in fact. 

Other than this outrageous behaviour, I also noticed that for the first time since pete’s eats was extended that notice board appears to have been cleared up. Meaning that there is now lots of space to put up a few flyers for you guiding business. So looking to get ahead of the pack I have done a little market research, on many of the advertisers on this wall. The majority of which proclaim to be be local, yet I have never heard of, that are selling themselves as the ‘Best outdoor activity provider in North Wales’, I still haven’t finished laughing at that one.
Who in there right mind looks at a advert blatantly knock together on a PC, and thinks that this must be the premiere provider of outdoor activities in North Wales. A bold statement for any centre or business to make given the volume of the industry in North Wales. By the adverts on the wall in Petes there are at least three companies claiming to be the best something in North Wales, me thinks it might be “Bull@£$%ter’s”.
So it got me thinking that I might design a poster on my PC, with the most outrageous slogans on so here is what I came up with, I do warn you I got a little silly towards the end.
“The best provider of Outdoor Activities on Earth”
“The most recommended courses on in Wales”
“I’d recommend his courses to anyone (If he paid me too!)”
“Amazing he’s still alive”
“Only killed four clients … but negligence was never proved!”
“Shit climber, rubbish businessman and annoying to be with”
“Misadventure for everyone!”
“A least we are Cheap”
Whilst I might be a little facetious there, the fact still remains that not everyone with a piece of paper are equally qualified to instruct. Sure they have the same qualification, but looking at the Mountain Instructor Award which simply assesses a persons ability to climb to VS in standard, rescue someone from that terrain, provide a safe and structured day of teaching rock climbing, take people up grade II/III scrambles and navigate above the level of an ML.
Beyond that there are various level of both competence and experience. For instance if you want to be guided up a VS and your instructor has an MIA there is no reason to say that they can still climb that grade. Or if they can whether they are going to spend all day on one route. I have worked at Plas Y Brenin, where all the staff pretty much have a grade or four in hand on VS, so you’ll easily get the mileage in. However other than by asking fairly probing questions you aren’t going to find out what grade you guide claims to climb!
The second major variable is that of coaching, very little time is spent covering this on the MIA training/assessment. Even then the assessor might only have his own experience to call on rather than a formal theoretical background. In climbing there are only just moves a foot to develop a coaching structure in addition to teaching of the more traditional rope work and safety. Whilst forms of coaching do exist, none have been formally taught.
To equip myself better I went back to university and studied applied sport science and effective coaching at Master’s Level, but there is very little I can do to help stand out from a very large crowd of MIA holders. Similarly people like Katherine Schumacher have a strong background in coaching, and worked backwards to get her MIA, one of the only ‘celebrity’ climbing coaches to do so.
It doesn’t mean that the other celebrity coaches aren’t safe, they have truck loads of experience, that they use to keep there clients safe. Many of them work to very high levels of best practice, however there is no ‘official’ rubber stamping for them, so whilst you might think they are keeping your safety as a priority no body has given their actions a once over to check that they actually are!
My point is that often what stands us apart is the market that we attach to our brochures, websites and flyers and even that is often a bunch of lies. As small independent instructor dot coms pop up everywhere how do clients truly know what they are getting without relying on word of mouth?
If you’d like to visit then please do, I offer the best courses in north wales, llanberis, goodman street or none of the above?

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