Norfolk may be flat, but there is a growing demand for rock climbing. Belle Wiley talks to Juliet Scott, rock climbing instructor at Fun Climbing.

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Training

You will need to be competent in rock climbing, in and outdoors and then gain the relevant instructor awards. Basic qualifications include the CWSA (Climbing Wall Supervisors Ward) or the SPA (Single Pitch Award). The CWSA will only allow you to work indoors whereas the SPA allows you to work indoors and outdoors. You will also need to hold an outdoor first aid certificate.

Timescale

The SPA is a two-day course plus a two-day assessment but to learn all the skills and knowledge required will take many months, even years.

Local training

City College Norwich

A full-time Sport (Outdoor Adventure) BTEC Extended Diploma.

Eaton Vale 01603 501228 / www.eatonvale.co.uk

The CWSA award.

Whitlingham Outdoor Pursuits Education Centre 01603 632307/ www.whitlinghamoec.co.uk

The CWSA award and a range of outdoor first aid qualifications.

UEA Sportspark 01603 592398 / http://sportspark.co.uk/

A range of courses to learn rock climbing

For further information check:

The British Mountaineering Council www.thebmc.co.uk

Mountain Leading Training (MLT) www.mltuk.org/

Association of Mountaineering Instructors www.ami.org.uk

Salary range

Employment is usually through sessional and seasonal contracts. Pay rates vary widely are about £12 an hour.

Belle Wiley

Why is it a good profession to get into?

I’ve been working as a climbing instructor for more than three years. I teach climbing to complete beginners, coach more advanced skills, people with height phobias, adult and children’s classes. I regularly take groups outdoors and have classes at indoor walls. I used to be a teacher which has helped me understand people’s motivation and how people learn.

Climbing is the fastest growing extreme sport in the UK and my classes are always full. The amazing thing about the sport is that it gives people confidence in themselves: not only on the rock, but in their lives too. People often say how you climb is a reflection of how you approach life. To challenge some of the fears of falling, of heights, of not taking risks within the sport, can make profound changes in people’s lives.

What does the work involve?

Last night I took a group and coached them in some technical aspects of climbing where I move their hands, feet and bodies to the correct positions. We had a fantastic atmosphere going with everyone clapping and encouraging each other. This afternoon I will be giving a lesson to a father and his daughter where we’ll play some fun climbing games like blindfold climbing. The work is really varied.

To be able to work as an instructor indoors and outside, I had to achieve the Single Pitch Award (SPA). I have also got the Climbing Wall Award, an Outdoor First Aid certificate and have just completed an advanced technical climbing award in London.

I’m self-employed and have set up my own business, Fun Climbing. It’s been more work than I thought it would be, but it’s very satisfying to be in total control of what you are doing and ensure that everything you deliver is of a high quality.

What are the positives/negatives of this profession?

I get a lot out of giving people confidence in themselves. People arrive at class with low expectations of what they’re 
going to be able to do and then they leave with a massive sense 
of achievement and realisation that they can much more than they thought they were going to 
be able to.

My best moment has been a client who initially could only manage to get 4ft off the ground. She was petrified of heights and, I thought she would never give it another go. But she battled through her anxieties and got to the top of the wall – the look of pure joy on her face was a picture, I nearly cried.

It is an extreme sport where the consequences of doing something wrong can be fatal. As an instructor, you can never relax and need to be on a high state of alert at all times – which can be exhausting. The first few lessons are crucial in instilling the technical skills and safety awareness.

Is there much local demand for people trained in this area?

The market for instructors is very competitive. Most of my business comes through word of mouth and I have to continually be on the look-out for opportunities 
and self-promote. There are only a few rock climbing venues in the region so opportunities to instruct indoors are limited.

What would employers look for in someone applying for a vacancy?

I’d say the most important qualities needed for an instructor are understanding and respecting safety, having a passion for 
the sport and being a good climber, being encouraging and, most importantly, making sure people have fun.

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