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Introduction to Mountain Training UK Awards

Introduction to Mountain Training UK Awards

If you’ve ever looked for a climbing instructor or looked into getting qualified yourself, you might have heard of Mountain Training UK. They’re best known in the climbing community as the Awarding Body for an extensive array of climbing and hillwalking instructor awards, covering everything from indoor climbing wall awards to ice climbing. 

This year they’ve opened their doors to non-professionals with a new range of skill-based courses. They’ve also revamped all of their existing qualifications. We took a look at some of the qualifications and courses on offer and what they involve:

Rock Skills (skills-based courses)

These are short courses designed to be of use to novice climbers and upwards. If you’ve never climbed on real-rock, or never climbed at all before, Rock Skills Introduction is the course for you. There are actually four courses under this banner. All are 1 or 2 days in length and currently running all over the UK from Avon Gorge to Llanberis. If you’ve done some climbing but not much, you can choose the right course according to your experience:

Hill Skills (skills-based courses)

Like the Rock Skills courses, these courses are intended for novice hill-walkers and hill-walkers who have some experience but have never ventured into mountainous territory before. The courses cover safety, navigation, route-planning and steep-terrain. There are two courses under this banner:

Mountain Walking Qualifications

Mountain Leader – Winter


The Winter Mountain Leader qualification is only open to those who already hold their Summer Mountain Leader. It covers taking groups out in the UK’s mountainous regions in winter conditions, including snow and avalanches, weather risks, ice axe and crampon skills. The Winter ML consists of a 6-day training course and 5-day assessment.

Mountain Leader – Summer


If you already have hill and mountain walking experience and want to take groups out in hill and mountain environments as a guide or instructor, this is the qualification for you. No climbing is included in the syllabus though protecting groups on steep ground and the emergency use of a rope are; so the Mountain Leader award does not cover you to take groups out scrambling or climbing. Navigation, group management and environmental knowledge/awareness are all important parts of the ML syllabus. The ML consists of an intensive 6-day training course and a 5-day assessment. In between training and assessment, trainees usually take some time to build on their existing skills.

Rock Climbing Qualifications

Rock Climbing Instructor


Previously known as the Single Pitch Award, the now much more aptly named Rock Climbing Instructor award covers instructing on single-pitch climbs and abseils, protected by a top rope. It revolves around building safe and secure top rope anchors using traditional protection and teaching basic climbing and belaying techniques; it does not qualify you to take people out lead climbing. The RCI consists of a 3-day training course and a 2-day assessment.

Rock Climbing Development Instructor


Rock Climbing Development Instructor is a new qualification which was released last year. It builds upon the Rock Climbing Instructor award and applicants must have already gained this. It covers climbing progression and teaching novices to lead climb (both sport and trad) on single-pitch crags.

Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor


Previously known as the Mountaineering Instructor Award, the Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor award covers the instruction of mountaineering in summer conditions, scrambling and multi-pitch lead climbing (trad and sport). Candidates must already hold the Mountain Leader award. It is a serious undertaking requiring lots of existing experience – the training course alone is 9-days and the assessment is 5-days in length.

Indoor climbing qualifications

Indoor Climbing Assistant


This award is for people who wish to assistant instructors in facilitating sessions at indoor/artificial climbing walls – usually top-roping or bouldering. This award does not qualify people to lead groups themselves.

Climbing Wall Instructor


The CWI is intended for indoor/artificial wall instructors who intend to lead top-roping and bouldering sessions teaching belaying, climbing-wall safety, tying-in and movement skills on the wall.

Climbing Wall Development Instructor


Leading on from the Climbing Wall Instructor award, the CWDI certifies candidates to teach lead climbing on indoor/artificial walls and is only open to holders of the Climbing Wall Instructor or Rock Climbing Instructor.

Coaching Qualifications

Foundation Coach


This qualification teaches participants to coach climbing movement skills to individuals or groups from novices upwards.

Development Coach


Building on the Foundation Coach award, this award covers coaching climbing movement and skills at a more in-depth level both indoors and outdoors (depending on other qualifications).

Find out more

This doesn’t cover all of the Mountain Training UK awards and qualifications, you can find them all detailed on their website.

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