Single Pitch Award

The Single Pitch Award offers the opportunity to gain a degree of competence in supervising a group on single pitch crags and climbing walls. The scheme covers such skills as choice of venue, rope management, and correct use of equipment, group management, emergency procedures, crag etiquette, access and conservation.
The SPA is the only nationally recognised award that enables holders to supervise novices and others on single pitch crags and climbing walls. To pass this award you need more than just good personal climbing skills. Our approved Providers will teach you about safe group management, crag etiquette, environmental responsibilities and more. You will learn how to become an effective supervisor, encouraging others to enjoy their climbing safely, whilst also improving your own climbing techniques.
Before undertaking the SPA award you should have been climbing for a minimum of 12 months, have an interest in the supervision of novices climbing and have led at least 15 graded routes outdoors. It is usual for successful candidates to have led a minimum of 40 routes outdoors on leader placed protection before they attend an assessment.


You must be 18 years of age and a member of a Mountaineering Council. Prior to registration you should have a minimum of twelve months rock climbing experience. When you register you will be sent a logbook in which to record your climbing experience.


The SPA training course lasts for a minimum of 20 hours. It will include personal climbing, group supervision and the use of climbing walls. If you have an exceptionally high level of experience you may be granted exemption from the training course and proceed directly to assessment. To do this you must first register and tick the exemption application request box on the registration form. Then you should submit the exemption application form together with a copy of your completed logbook and the appropriate fee.


At the end of your training course you will agree a personal action plan with your training Provider. This usually covers a period of at least six months during which time you will record your climbing and supervising experience in your logbook.


Your assessor will ask to see your logbook when you book on the course to check you have completed the SPA training course (or successfully gained exemption from training), satisfied the consolidation requirements and have a current First Aid certificate. The assessment lasts for a minimum of 20 hours and includes personal climbing, group supervision and the use of climbing walls. After passing the assessment you should keep your logbook up to date and your First Aid certificate valid.

What is a Single Pitch Route?

For the purposes of this scheme a single pitch route is one which:
  • is climbed without intermediate stances
  • is described as single pitch in the guidebook
  • is non-tidal
  • is non-serious and has little objective danger
  • presents no difficulties on approach or retreat, such as route finding, scrambling or navigating
    1. Gain personal climbing experience
    2. Registration and issue of log book
    3. Training course
    4. Consolidation period
    5. Assessment course
    6. Continuing logbook experience and any relevant additional training
    1. Technical Competence
    2. The Climbing Environment
    3. Supervision
    • Meet at the crag
    • Guidebooks and route choice
    • Runner placement, belay construction and leading climbs
    • Belaying and lowering
    • Personal abseiling
    • Meet at the crag
    • Top rope and bottom rope climbing, Abseiling with novices
    • Rigging and supervising the activity
    • Anticipating and minimising problems
    • Bouldering
    • Course review – Logbooks and personal action plans
  • The scheme consists of six stages:
    Course syllabus
    To register, please contact:
    Mountain Leader Training England, Siabod Cottage, Capel Curig, Conwy, LL24 0ET Tel: +44 (0)1690 720314 Fax: +44 (0)1690 720248 e-mail: Website:

    Written by Craig

    Craig is a committed climber and mountaineer holding the Mountain Instructor Certificate (MIC) and is an Accredited Practitioner for the Institute for Outdoor Learning.

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