I have just received an email from Mountain Training to say my CWLA (Climbing Wall Leading Award) training is complete. Yesterday I went on the course with Joby Maw Davis – we had two instructors, six attendees and an observer, so it was full house at Redpoint climbing centre.
Strangely, a lot of the exercises we did were on top ropes, but on second thoughts, it makes a lot of sense. Afterall, teaching someone to lead climb doesn’t involve much new in terms of climbing techniques – the biggest step is the huge leap in safety awareness, and getting your head round that. A survey of young lead climbers (which I have been unable to trace online, but is probably reported somewhere by the BMC) looked at the stress on climbers as they ascended and found that the biggest factor affecting their performance was whether they were above or below the clip. It makes a massive difference, whether you have been climbing for years or are new to the sport. No matter how many times you have fallen. So the first thing about teaching lead climbing is building up some confidence and understanding – an activity probably best not carried out by throwing them out there on the sharp end.
Then again, every situation is different, and it depends who you’ve got.