Our Learn to Lead rock climbing course is for climbers who want to get out on the crags under their own steam, and lead their first ‘trad’ routes with natural protection. The course focuses on how to safely lead single pitch rock climbs (those of 1 rope length), and the skills you will require whilst outcrop climbing in the UK on well known crags such as Stanage Edge, Almscliff and other single pitch climbing venues.
Please visit our Covid-19 Climb Information page for Covid FAQs, details of our new participation requirements, travel advice and what to expect on your trip.Download factsheet (PDF)
If you want to start leading uk rock climbs using leader placed protection, then this is the course for you! The course involves 2 days of climbing training and coaching, where we teach you all the skills required for trad leading, as well as a range of topics including movement skills, trad climbing grades and crag etiquette etc.
We run these courses in the Peak District National Park, where generations of climbers have cut their teeth. The ‘Peak’ is home to several lifetimes worth of climbing, condensed into a small area with amazing variety and easy access. We will focus on the skills and techniques for safely leading single pitch climbs (those of 1 rope length), which is the first logical step towards being an independent trad leader. We can also be offer this trip in the Yorkshire Dales, which has a similar wealth of good climbing – please get in touch to discuss.
To take part you should be at Fitness Level 2 and minimum Tech Level 2 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines below). You need to be able to tie on and belay safely and must have some previous climbing experience before the course.
By the end of this course, you will be able to turn up at your local crag, choose an appropriate route to climb, then select the equipment needed and lead it safely from the ground upwards. You will be able to solve some common problems encountered whilst climbing single pitch routes, and have a solid understanding of all the skills required for single pitch climbing.
Any items of specialist climbing equipment that you need are also included (eg helmet, harness, rock climbing shoes etc)
You can book one of the advertised course dates as an individual, and we will team you up with another climber of similar standard. Or, if you are a ready made team of 2 people and would like to choose your own course dates, please get in touch and we do our best to help.
One IFMGA guide working with 2 clients.
All our UK guides are fully qualified IFMGA guides and members of British Association of Mountain Guides, the professional association for mountain guides in the UK – meet some of our team here.
In terms of added value, climbing with an IFMGA guide is a great option if you want to learn from someone with the widest possible range of experience, or you aspire to/are already obsessed with winter or Alpine climbing! IFMGA guides work worldwide on rock, ice, glaciers and ski – so we can offer training, advice and recommendations for all your future plans, whatever and wherever they may be.
Included in price
- 2 days of guiding and instruction
- All guides expenses
- Local transport in guides vehicle to complete the itinerary
- Use of communal technical equipment eg ropes and climbing hardware
- Hire of personal equipment including harness, helmet, belay equipment and rock shoes
Excluded from price
- Travel to venue
- Food and accommodation
We price this course on a guiding & instruction only basis. Food and accommodation must be paid for separately. Hotel/BnB/camping ideas can be found on our Accommodation page.
Meet in morning for Course Briefing.
Your guide will run through kit checks and safety routines, as well as hand out any rental equipment, before going on to discuss the itinerary for the course, together with the current weather and hill conditions and how these affect our planning. We’ll then head to the crag!
Topics covered include:
- Belaying review, crag safety and communication
- Knots refresher
- How to choose and carry a rack on your harness
- Introduction to placing protection
- Constructing belay anchors
- Setting up top rope/bottom rope systems
- Leading your first climbs
- Lots of varied climbing – getting used to the rock, using trad gear and ropework techniques
On day 2 we focus on developing your leading skills, by selecting and climbing some classic local routes.
Topics covered along the way:
- Grades – how to read between the lines and choose appropriate climbs
- How to read a route, plan your resting points, plan your gear placements, how to pace yourself
- Consolidation of protection placing skills and anchor building
PM Q+A session, course debrief and advice for the future.
Location and Travel
The trip is based around Hathersage in the Peak District. From here we have easy access to all the main climbing venues around the National Park. You need to arrange accommodation in or near to Hathersage, so that you can make daily meet ups and reach the various climbing venues.
- Road – Hathersage can easily be reached by car via the M6 and Manchester to the West, or the M1 and Sheffield to the East.
- Train – Trains are available directly to Hathersage from either Manchester or Sheffield.
- Bus – Bus services are available as above – the closest being from Sheffield which takes around 30 mins.
Fitness and Experience
To enjoy this trip you should be comfortable operating at Fitness Level 2, and Tech Level 2 (as appropriate for the style of climbing on this trip ie Alpine, rock climbing or ice climbing).
Fitness Level 2
You do 2-3 hours CV training/sport per week. At this level you should be happy doing either a 3-4 hour hillwalk, cycling 30-40 miles or mountain biking 2-3 hours without being exhausted. Eg: you should be able to walk from Ogwen Cottage in North Wales up Glyder Fach – Glyder Fawr – Y Garn – Ogwen in ~5hrs. Or in the Lake District Langdale – Bowfell – Esk Pike – Angle Tarn – Langdale in ~ 6hrs.
Tech Level 2
Novice climber. Indoor or outdoor sport climbing experience / seconding traditionally protected climbs at V Diff – Severe standard / winter hillwalking or mountaineering using an ice axe and crampons / alpine glacier treks or alpine peaks to F standard.
To view all climbing Technical and Fitness Levels, and for advice on trip preparation and training, please visit our training advice page.
UK Rock Climbing Kit List
Above all, your kit needs to do the job but be as light as possible. Lightweight breathable fabrics are ideal for waterproofs, which are carried as often as worn (hopefully!).
- Waterproof jacket – lightweight breathable model
- Overtrousers – with long side zips
- Socks – warm ‘Smartwool’ type, plus thin liner socks and spares
- Wicking thermal tops/t-shirts
- Softshell jacket – or equivalent light insulating layer
- Mountain trousers – light/mid-weight windproof softshell model
- Thin gloves – windproof ‘hardfleece’ model is good
- Warm hat – must fit under a helmet
- Spare warm layer – fleece or lightweight synthetic belay jacket
- Water Container – at least 1 litre
- Headtorch and batteries
- Map, compass and whistle (optional, but a good idea)
- Personal medications and blister kit – zinc oxide tape, compeed, painkillers etc
- Sun Glasses – CE rated 3 or 4
- Sun and lip cream – factor 30+
- Sun hat
- Shorts and t-shirt
- Rucsac 35/45l is perfect for general use
- Approach shoes or trainers – sticky rubber models are excellent
- Rock climbing shoes – must be comfortable enough to wear for several hours
- Climbing Harness – with locking karabiner and belay device
- 120cm sling and locking karabiner
- Climbing helmet
- *Semi rigid B2 mountaineering boots – Axe, Boot and Crampon advice
Depending on the trip, these may be ‘nice to have’ or ‘required’ items – see individual joining instructions.
- Superlight rucsac – superlight 15/20l model, for taking on long multi-pitch rock routes
- 2 prussik loops and karabiner – if in doubt, bring 3m of 6mm climbing cord!
- Trekking poles
- Camping gear if you choose to camp in the valley
Your guide will have ropes, climbing rack, first aid and survival equipment.
*On trips where boots are required, these should be reasonably stiff 3/4 season mountaineering models. They will be needed if we decide to go ‘big boots’ climbing on easy rock climbs or scrambling terrain. Soft bendy walking boots are not very good for technical scrambling/climbing (you may be better off in a pair of ‘sticky rubber’ approach shoes). See below for advice.
Recommendations and Advice
Visit the Knowledge Base section of our website or our blog for equipment advice. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch!
Backcountry UK in Otley offer an excellent walking boot fitting service and general equipment advice.
It’s best to have your own rock climbing shoes so you can get a proper fit, but if you need to hire some please get in touch. Other safety equipment can also be hired from us (subject to availability) – please see our Equipment Hire page for details.
For UK residents – we strongly recommend that you purchase cancellation cover, in case you’re unable to attend your trip due to personal circumstances or injury.
For non UK residents – search and rescue is currently free in the UK, but you may be charged by the NHS for certain treatments, and you should also consider the need for emergency repatriation in the event of a serious illness/accident. We also strongly recommend that you purchase cancellation cover, in case you’re unable to attend your trip due to personal circumstances or injury.
Please arrange your insurance as soon as your trip is confirmed to run.
Please find further details on our insurance info page.