/ Newbie trying for SPA

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Lmc - on 14 Sep 2017
Hello,

I am a freelance kayak coach but looking to broaden my skill set to make me more attractive to centres/providers. I have been advised that SPA is beneficial but have literally no experience with any form of climbing.

Anyone able to offer some advice about how long it might take (very roughly) to get from my clueless state to SPA standard?

I am aware this is not something I can rush through and is a long term plan but I want to get started over the Autumn/winter seasons when I have the most free time.

My plan is to initially start intro to climb course at local wall and try and get as much practice/experience as possible as sadly I don't have any climber friends.

Any advice would be hugely appreciated.
Tomtom - on 15 Sep 2017
In reply to Lmc:

SPA, or even CWA is an instructing award, and essentially, how can you instruct well if you dont have any experience?!
To be honest I don't think the standards at CWA level are high enough, or at least thorough enough in assessment. SPA is more thorough from an outdoor experience point of view, but less so on a group management side. Which as an instructor is important.
Anyhow, before I digress, I've witnessed some pretty shocking instructing from those holding NGB awards, as well as those having been trained on the scheme prior to assessment. For the good of your potential clients, please don't rush into these awards.

Why not just start with climbing, and see if you enjoy it?
Find a local wall, and take their beginners course, often grouped with other adults, so you don't need a friend to join at the same time. Then from there you can find partners to climb with. Get clued up and experienced, and if you like it, look to get outside, where you can gain experience there.

For now, forget about SPA, and get into climbing, it's pretty good ;)
alan moore - on 15 Sep 2017
In reply to Lmc:

..or alternatively...
The SPA is a fairly hokey outdoor award and easy to get. The non-climbers I took mine with were far slicker and better instructors than I (an experienced climber with loads of bad habits) could ever be.
Get yourself on a training weekend and give it a shot. Be aware that you need to put in a few months gaining 'experience' between trading and assessment.
9
summo on 15 Sep 2017
In reply to Lmc:
I would follow the advice about gaining some climbing experience first. You wouldn't advise the opposite for a person to just tick the bottom rung of the BCU quals would you?

But you are in an ideal position. Most outdoor workers have a cross over of skills, climbing, paddling, biking, skiing, caving.. find someone who is an MIA/MIC and wants to improve their paddling, you swap skills and experience. Plus you gain contacts and potentially future customers too.
Post edited at 07:48
Wil Treasure - on 15 Sep 2017
In reply to:
Before you think about training, get down the wall, get confident belaying and with general climbing movement, find a few people at the wall to get some mileage outside. Buy a copy of Libby Peters's book to help you out.

Once you feel confident that you can manage your own safety get on a course. The SPA is a supervisory award, the point of it is that your be able to supervise a group safely in a fairly controlled environment. You'd also learn to rig anchors for toproping. The standard that your personal climbing needs to be is very low, it shouldn't be a barrier to anyone moderately fit.

Total time perhaps 12 months.
Post edited at 07:50
2
jezb1 - on 15 Sep 2017
In reply to Lmc:

I run SPA courses and see all sorts of people pass... and defer!

Some people do climbing courses with people like myself to get the skills and some initial mileage, others just find a friend to teach them. Either way can work and like I say I've seen strong and weak candidates from both, and other pathways.

GrahamUney - on 15 Sep 2017
In reply to Lmc:

As many have said here, first become a climber. Either through a climbing friend, a club, or some formal instruction.
LastBoyScout on 15 Sep 2017
In reply to Lmc:

I'll leave the group management to one side - if you're a kayak instructor, you'll already know about that.

SPA covers both indoor and outdoor climbing on single pitch crags that are not tidal and have easy walking access to both the top and bottom. IIRC you're expected to be able to lead to about Severe standard.

If you're using a climbing wall, then there's not much of it you need to know beyond being able to competently and safely put people into a harness (and there are several different styles around), tie onto a rope and belay. In most cases, the rope anchors are done for you, or are a case of threading a rope through a krab/over a bar. The trick is being able to spot and deal with when it's not being done properly. This is what the CWA is for.

The outdoors side is much more complicated (and expensive!) - you'll need to be able to (quickly) rig top-tope anchors in a variety of different types of rock with a variety of different bits of equipment. You'll also need to be able to rig a releaseable abseil with safety rope and be able to rescue a stuck climber.

Apart form the safety side, you'll need to be able to teach a bit of basic technique for both hands and feet.

How long this will take will depend on how quickly you can get the experience. You might be able to manage it in a few months over a summer, but more likely at least a couple of years.

As others have said, find some climbing friends and get some experience - even having that will count as a plus and you can work up from there.

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