/ Learning Trad
I have been climbing indoors for over 12 months now and have followed twice outdoors.
I want to learn how to place gear correctly, top anchors etc and generally develop my outdoor climbing skills.
Does anybody know of any courses, climbing clubs I could join, I live close to Ilkley. Or would anybody fancy a day teaching the basics.
Hi, I have seen a couple of posts from MIA candidates looking for clients to practice on this week, you could get in touch with them. Or look for your local BMC affiliated club on their website.
You might get more response if you fill in your profile a bit
I'd help if I was closer.
This previous post from me has club list and MLT links in: http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=506686&v=1#x6885086
Leeds Mountaineering Club is on your doorstep, climbing outside every decent Wednesday evening, usually north of Leeds (Ilkley Rocky Valley last Wed). They're great at bringing on beginners (I learnt almost from scratch with them) and often arrange intro to leading courses
Have a look - http://leedsmc.org/ - you'll get a good feel from their bulletin boards
The most basic is the Single Pitch Award and being a basic qualification SPA holders vary considerably in experience. However, the key point is that SPA holders are NOT taught or assessed on their ability to teach, instruct or supervise lead climbing.
The main qualification for rock climbing instruction in the UK is the Mountain Instructor Award. The standard of knowledge and ability required of MIA holders is much, much higher and covers all aspects of lead climbing. All the MIA holders I know would be perfectly capable of deliver excellent instruction in everything you need.
The best way to find a fully qualified MIA holder is to look for members of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors. See http://www.ami.org.uk/db/public/instructor_search.php to find instrucotrs in your area. The use of the AMI logo is strictly policed so any individuals or companies which displaying it will be fully qualified and also adhere to a professional code of conduct.
You may also find individuals who are British Mountain Guides. The Guide qualification is even higher. It is an internationally recognized professional qualification. Any chance to spend time with a Guide will be time well spent but hiring one to teach basic lead climbing might be overkill.
Finally, there are a number of essentially 'pro climbers' who offer coaching. The vast majority will be more than capable of teaching you the skills you need but their normal work is probably at a more advanced level.
Whatever you do, good luck.
You post seems to imply that people who haven't got the MIA (minimum) don't make for good people to learn the basics off?
They are asking for a basic introduction to outdoor / trad, which an SPA holder should be more than capable of providing. Any practicing SPA holder will be able to demonstrate how to place a wide variety of gear in different settings, different rock, etc, and they are trained and assessed in these areas.
Also, whilst SPA holders may vary in experience, so indeed will MIA holders, we all have varying levels of experience and varying skill sets. I'd further your comment to add, all MIA & SPA holders I know would be perfectly capable of delivering excellent instruction in the areas required.
Hope you do find a suitable club / course and enjoy climbing for many years
That would be because lots of them would not be, despite what they may think about their own abilities.
I had probably best admit I am an MIA, so you can no doubt argue that I have a vested interest in saying that.
However, unlike 99% of climbers I have actually worked on SPA assessment courses so can actually passed inform comment on the qualification and the standard of candidates. I have also worked with several hundred instructors over the years and quite frankly I would not recommend anyone take the risk of gambling that a particular SPA holder is better than average, not when there are dozens of fully qualified MIAs around the country actively looking for work.
The outdoor industry is fairly unique in that it is so popular that there is no shortage of extremely talented and very highly qualified people in it working for rather meagre wages. As such, it would seem crazy for individual climbers not to take full advantage of the situation to get instruction from those people.
I have to say that I have had the pleasure of meeting some extremely competent SPA holders over the years, however a pertinent point is that almost all of them are now even better MIA holders. [It also happens that perhaps 1/3 of the MIA/MICs whom I most respect are now Guides or Aspirnat Guides.] Quite frankly if any SPA holder is not rapidly progressing towards MIA, my main conclusion is that they are showing very little interest in or commitment to teaching climbing professionally. As such, are they really best people to ensure you a novice is heading in the right direction at the very start of their climbing career?
A particular award or otherwise is all very well and indeed useful, but experience and learning from it is also a highly useful tool and can be gained without following a paper / qualifications trail.
Only last weekend I was chatting with an old friend, a prominent climber from years gone by, with not a qualification to his name let alone an MIA. Used to operate as a climbing guide in Wales, and had many happy, satisfied and most importantly, safe customers.
It seems a little short sighted to say if we are not working towards our next qualification, we are not committed. It maybe means we have a better work / life balance!
I have no formal climbing qualifications and I am very capable at instructing thanks. I have taught upwards of 25 people to lead climb in the last four or five years and have no [known] accidents of my instructed to report.
I can't see that that follows. I offer instruction for free. Surely, there are times that paid instruction is appropriate but it does kind of depend upon what the aim of the individual is in seeking instruction.
You strike me as a very well intentioned individual and I am certain that your advice is coming from a good place but I can hear in your posts exactly the 'company line' that I have heard on many threads coming from qualified instructors that is exclusively advocating qualified instruction. I am sure that there is a varied range of opinion on the subject among the qualified community but the only one that I hear vocalised seems to be the one that says "pay for instruction or get a lemon".
I find this opinion rather institutional. Qualifications are a modern invention that are certainly not a necessity for a novice to seek out for instruction. I am certain that the techniques I use could be scrutinised by qualifying institutions and not be found at fault (obviously I am always open to advice). I used to but now have no care in training for SPA, ML or MIA in most part because of the exact same attitude that you are presenting. What a shame for you, me and the industry. Fortunately I can still give instruction and do and I feel quite successful at it.
The whole point is that they are most categorical NOT assessed in their ability to demonstrate or teach anything relating to gear placement.
The only instruction that SPA holders are assessed on is the instruction of belaying/abseiling and basic movement on rock. If you read the SPA syllabus properly you will clearly see that the only time the word 'instruct' is used is in para 3.3b:
3.3 Supervising the Session
Candidates must demonstrate competence in the following areas. They should be able to:
b. deliver technical instruction to individuals and the group including:
i. choice and fitting of suitable harnesses
ii. attaching the rope to the harness
iii. advice, demonstration and coaching on climbing movement
iv. demonstration of effective use of chosen belay device
v. safe use of friction device for abseiling
When it comes to 'gear' placement, it is NOT something that features heavily in the SPA syllabus. Only 5 out of 67 heading in the syllabus relate to anchors and only 2 relate to 'gear' in the normally accepted definition of nuts and cams.
select suitable, sound anchors in a variety of situations including:
a. spikes and blocks
b. nuts and camming devices
c. threads, chockstones and trees
d. fixed equipment
1.5 Personal Climbing Skills
d. place runners suitable for lead protection.
The main focus is on maximizing the use of the most solid anchors when it comes to belays with 'nuts and cams' only comprising one out of the four types listed. In that regard, the best SPA candidates generally place the fewest wires and cams and their use does not feature at all heavily during that element of assessment. When it comes to leading on SPA courses, you need to bear in mind that the routes MUST be no more than Severe and will have relatively straight-forward gear placements in order for the assessment to be both fair and completely SAFE for candidates. This reflects the fact that when instructing, SPA holders would be assumed to always pick the most straight-forward routes with which they are familiar to have clients/students second them on.
The upshot of this is that, it does mean that only a very low level of gear placement skills are actually required to meet the standard. It is also worth noting that the requirements for SPA are so low that the UIAA will not recognize it as qualification.
I have assessed AND PASSED several SPA holders who would delivery barely adequate and pretty poor instruction in, as the OP specified, 'how to place gear correctly'.
The reasons for that, I have hopefully explained. The SPA syllabus is not in any way, shape or form rigorous enough to ensure that holders are equipped to teach gear placement and the key point is that it should not be, as that is not and never was the role intended for holders of the award.
As an aspirant MIA I find the above post from Mr 'I'm an MIA, don't you know' a little institutionalised and a little bit condescending.
I know for a fact that most people who climb, myself included, make excellent climbing instructors. I don't need a piece of paper with a stamp on it to say so but I am doing so because the industry requires it.
I would happily take anybody wanting to progress onto real rock and show them how to climb safely for themselves and I am confident that I could do it to a standard equal to, and probably better in some instances, than many MIA out there.
The reason is that there are a number of MIA holders that have an attitude not becoming of a professional service provider i.e. full of themselves!
I told you I was havin difficulty holding on to that tongue!
An SPA holder should be able to place suitable protection both during a climb and to set up anchors at the top of a crag, if they cannot, or can 'barely' do this, why pass them? I'm yet to come across anything like this.
You say an SPA is not assessed in their ability to teach the placing of protection, but they are assessed in placing protection. Doesn't teaching by example count? Surely the best way of teaching practical skills is by demonstrating them. Therefore, by being able to place suitable protection, an SPA can absolutely teach this this.
The lead routes on SPA courses should be no harder than Severe, then the BMG who ran the assessment course i was on was sending us up routes more difficult than he should have? And in the wet! Also, how can any lead climb be completely safe? How could an MIA possibly think such nonsense? Do please explain how you arrive at this conclusion.
You seem to simply wish to be derogatory towards the SPA award, what a shame as most of us work hard to give our clients an excellent experience.
It has been a good 3 years since I stopped believing that sort of complete and utter egotistical nonsense about myself.
Unfortunately it took a climber to end up on hospital before I stopped making EXACTLY the same stupid statements about MICs that you are currently making about MIAs.
The ONLY person who is full of themselves tonight is you!
I am being FACTUAL about the SPA award and what is actually assessed and what is not directly assessed.
If you CHOOSE to see that as being derogatory that is your choice.
Let's all calm down.
I think the point is that there is a commonly perceived attitude (there are three of us here who perceive it) of 'holier than thou' that comes from the qualified climbing community. Now it may be that the few individuals who display that mentality are the rare occasion among the qualified community and happen to be the most vocal. It may be that it is a very common attitude among the qualified community and those who proclaim it are a representative voice. Who could say. Any attempt at a fair and balanced poll or survey to find out would unlikely reveal anything as people who have spent so long gaining their qualifications and generally have so much invested in it are bound to defend themselves resulting in an unrepresentative result. There will never be an answer to this I am sure.
For my two penneth, I honestly thought until March last year, when I was on the receiving end of this very problem on a thread that went on for 540 posts with about 10,000 views, that I would aim to be and work toward becoming an MIA and my experience in the snake pit that can be these forums at the hands of many opinionated (as I am, I appreciate - this isn't about pointing fingers) qualified instructors who all came out with the same attitude (rightly or wrongly) put me right off and I know I don't want to become the people who gave the impression of being the representative voice of the industry.
You, I think it is fair to point out (and I'm sorry if you feel defensive because of that), present yourself in a similar manner. The line 'get paid qualified instruction or suffer the consequences' is neither endearing or reasonable. It is bound to bring you argument.
These threads seem to always turn into an instructor bashing
As I see it, it is quite simple
If you want instruction of a good standard then you need to go to someone who you know gives good instruction. The issue is how do you know this, as you don't know what is good because you are new to the sport.
The answer is that you get someone who is recommended by a person who has knowledge about such things.
This means (IMHO) one of either
1) A person who is recommended by their own performance and status in the climbing community - ie I would happily take climbing coaching (and have done) from Dave Macleod based on the fact that he must have some level of ability to be doing what he is doing.
2) A person who is recommended by someone else who has experience of the sport, be cautious of recomendations from beginners who have just learnt as they may not have had the time/experience to reflect on what they were taught to test its validity. - This could include a long standing member of a club etc etc
3) A person who is recommended by the Governing Body for the sport. These recomendations often come in the form of a qualification ie a certain level has been acheived and this is where searching for an qualified instructor comes in - it is after all a national recomendation of their ability.
If you chose to go with someone other than the 3 above, this does not mean they are bad just that you don't really know what you are getting. It could work out either way
Hope all this sound reasonable so far....
As to the SPA / MIA option again I see it quite simply.
A MIA has been assessed to a higher level than an SPA, this is not in dispute. If I was paying for instruction I would want the best person for the job and therefore would probably choose the higher award - view it as a stronger recomendation if you will.
Some SPA's are capable of working above the award, some are not but again this links back to point 2 above.
To be fully open (it is on my profile anyway) I do hold the MIA and learnt alot from going through the scheme, it has made me a better instructor all round.
The reason I have changed my mind has nothing to do with self interest and has everything to do with the fact that I now understand exactly how much I have learnt and therefore exactly how much I previously didn't know.
That is exactly the same situation pretty much EVERY professional instructor I know is in.
At one stage we were all supremely confident and keen amateur climbers who felt that they had nothing left to learn about climbing. But having committed to it professionally what we always find is that there is loads to learn. In fact, the only thing that has happened since I got my MIA has been that I have realised how much more there is to learn about a whole manner of things.
The only thing I can suggest is that you consider what is the more likely of two alternatives
- vastly enthusiastic and passionate climbers suddenly en masse change their complete personalities overnight by being brain-washed at the Brenin or The Lodge.
- vastly enthusiastic and passionate climbers find that they develop massively in skills and ability by going through a rigorous training and assessment process and through completing ongoing Continual Professional Development along with other professionals.
I would say it is nonsensical to dismiss consistent views held by numerous individuals across a professional just because you feel they are commenting negatively about you specifically, rather than making general statements.
But the dilemma here is that you can never 'know what you don't know'. Unless you complete your MIA/MIC you will never be in a position to comment and if you did, the odds are that you would end up arguing with someone exactly like you are now who will accuse you of being 'opinionated' and 'holier than thou'.
Professional commitment means committing to make money from it so that you can support yourself. I understand what you mean but maybe I would say that taking instruction in the arts of mountaineering from accomplished practitioners results in the trainee being almost astonishingly better informed about mountaineering as a subject both by academic study and physical experience (over woolly words as I am trying not to offend). Does that cover it? If so then I totally agree.
What doesn't seem to be accepted by a few/some/many instructors (delete as appropriate as per your knowledge of instructors voicing opinion suggests to you - From my own personal experience I would delete a few and some) who voice their opinions on here is that these extra skills are necessary in order to be able to go out and do the climbing/mountaineering discipline that you want to and I don't see that. I get by, as do many many people, without these extra learned skills and have very full and accomplished climbing careers. Those people can not be presumed to be less able than those who are qualified, to give instruction to novices based, upon their lack of qualifications. In a way paying for a guide or instructor is a little bit like taking out insurance against getting a duffer (which admittedly could be serious in the sport that we are instructing in, so I am not suggesting that this is an insignificant thing to consider). You also, of course, get the added convenience of having times and places arranged to suit yourself by contracting your instructor's time.
So yes there are benefits, but to suggest that the only way to correctly go about learning climbing is with a qualified professional is unfair to those who are offering what the recipient is looking for and who doesn't charge.
I imagine that it is a persistent thorn in the sense that someone else is offering what you sell cheaper and in part because they are free of the financial costs and taxes of being in business. What you are really doing is offering a sales pitch and that would probably be taken up by more people if it were presented based upon the positives. Saying you can't think about this other way of getting what you are looking for will only ever make them at least consider it and doesn't strengthen your business outlook in the end.
I have seen from you that you have a helpful tone, so really I am not calling you names or trying to upset you. I am describing what I see as a natural reaction to being undercut in a market place that you depend upon.
I think ultimately there is a real risk that the qualified professionals in the industry will eventually be the cause of health and safety constraints being made legal on the individual to practice the activity of climbing without supervision or qualification. A bit like needing a driving licence. It'll be a shame if that ever does happen.
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Interesting discussion. I don't think ex engineer is being condescending or anything like that he is just giving Parkinaj some good, safe guidelines. If you buy an MIA or MIC in to teach...you will receive tuition that is tried and tested over many years and pretty much reflected in all people who deliver...whereas if you access a club it might be left slightly to chance. I have an example where two friends who are climbing novices went out with a club very recently and they joined a member who was showing them how to place RP's...something I wouldn't consider until a long way into leading. With regards the SPA...if you pay for somebody to teach you, you are signing a contract. Even if you are a great climber the SPA doesn't qualify you to teach leading so would be breaching the contract. I think it's a bit frustrating. If you want to learn to paddle on the sea do you hire a sea kayaker or inland kayaker!
forgot to add my name Graeme Hill
The agreement you have (signed or otherwise) most likely will be based on the premise that the provider has appropriate knowledge, skills and experience to teach you. The SPA and other formal qualifications are one common way to demonstrate this competence but they are certainly not the only recognised way, unless the client insists on it (as may be the case with more formal bodies such as local authorities and those working with minors.)
It is perfectly legal for me to teach adults how to lead climb in the UK despite my SPA ticket not covering leading and I can easily get insurance to do so. If ever there was a claim against me as a result I would easily be able to demonstrate to a court my appropriateness for the role, which is in effect what is required of any provider.
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