Sport Climbing for Instructors CPD

Today I was out teaching a Continuing Professional Development course for AMI members on Sport Climbing. Whilst for many it may seem too narrow a focus and that all a qualified instructor needs to know about Sports Climbing is clip and go.

However over the years I have come to realise that as an instructor working of both skills courses for climbers and single pitch awards, is that it is not so simple. There are several things that sport climbing venues bring up that other venues don’t and there are traps that we can all fall into when it comes to using bolted venues.

First off what can we teach the recreational climber, first off bolts outside are not like those we clip at a climbing wall. The climbing wall checks every bolt about once every month and has paperwork to prove it. Outside those bolt can be placed by anyone and into potentially anything. So check the bolt and check the rock it is place in. Remember the only qualification you need to bolt a route is a cordless drill. With the issue of bolts on Slate this provided an interesting discussion point.

For instructors this is very important and we can be just as guilty as taking fixed gear for granted as climbers. Maybe we can emphasise this when we are teaching people how to sport climb, as well as highlight it more when teaching on SPA courses. As ten years ago there was so few venues that were sporting climbing venues with routes suitable for group use say F3/4. Yet today there are a growing number and I have found myself using sport climbing venues more in the last 10 years.

The using these venues for work, means we should also try and reduce the potential wear on the lower offs. So his we can do this for different type of groups can change. If I am teaching leading then is clipping two quick draws into the lower off fine, it is how I do it when leading with friends. Or should we used screwgates? We discussed this on the course as it is a valid point, and when is it appropriate to insist on screw gates.

Again if we are teach people to be sports climbers how can we introduce modern skills like using a clip stick, lowering off and pulling the rope to leave the first bolt clipped, and introducing the concept of trying harder routes and preparing for the red point. It was interesting to cover all this today and more, as well as getting to practice the skills and do a little climbing ourselves.

The other interesting thing about sport climbing venues for the instructor is there are issue with simple SPA problems that are not so simple with bolted venues. First off walking round the top to abseil in or do a rescue is often not possible sport climbing. Some sports routes are isolate so you can’t use an adjacent route for a rescue. So what if the rope jams in a crack. I had this happen abroad and required belaying yourself up the cliff. Easier with a gri-gri and jumar but not so easy with a  belay device.

Anyway was a great day CPD. If you are interested in a Sport Climbing course based in north wales or dorset then check out the Snowdonia Mountain Guides Sport Climbing Courses. Or if you are an AMI or MTA member check out the Climbing Instructor CPD courses I run.

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