Our multipitch rock climbing course is for climbers who have some basic leading experience, and would now like to start leading longer multipitch rock climbs using leader placed protection. The UK is the home of traditional rock climbing in Europe, with a huge diversity of rock types and venues around the country, many of which are long and committing mountain crags or sea cliffs. So learning how to deal safely with this terrain is an essential part of the learning curve for UK climbers, opening up a lifetime of adventures both at home and abroad.
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 multipitch rock climbs using leader placed protection, then this is the course for you! The course involves 5 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, crag etiquette, belay stance organisation, abseil retreats and self rescue etc.
Courses take place in North Wales (or can also be run in the Lake District – please get in touch to discuss) and will focus on routes that are a comfortable grade, so you can learn the common systems involved in climbing longer routes, whilst enjoying the movement and situations. Typical grades climbed during the week are Diff to VS, depending on client ability and preference, but mixed ability teams can be differentiated by splitting leads accordingly. There is an abundance of quality mountain and sea cliff routes in North Wales, both in the Snowdonia National Park and the surrounding areas such as the Anglesey sea cliffs on Gogarth, including some of the best and most famous routes in the UK!
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 leading experience before the course, preferably outdoors, but those with plenty of indoor leading under their belt, and some prior knowledge of gear placement will also enjoy this course.
Learning is structured and progressive throughout the week, starting with a single pitch lead coaching refresher day, to consolidate your skills and gain confidence. On multi pitch climbs, the extra elements of stance organisation, more complex route finding and emergency retreat will then be introduced and practiced. The ethos for the week is learning by doing, so expect to tick at least one big classic route per day!
By the end of the week you will know how to choose a crag to suit the current weather and conditions, and select a suitable route for your personal climbing comfort zone. You will know how to choose the equipment required, including emergency items required should you need to descend in an emergency. You will be able to lead the route safely, with efficient changeovers at each belay, to follow the route using the guidebook and route finding skills, and to deal with common scenarios along the way, such as common crag problems ( eg dropped equipment, or a second becoming ‘stuck’) and how to make a safe abseil retreat.
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
- 5 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
This course is 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 mountain conditions and how these affect our planning. We’ll then head to the crag for our first days activities.
On day 1 the focus is on reviewing your current knowledge and laying solid foundations for the rest of the week, by reviewing all the basics of trad climbing, and becoming familiar with the ropework and equipment. Topics covered include:
- Review of outdoor climbing equipment
- How to select and carry a rack on your harness
- Belaying review, crag safety and communication
- Knots used in outdoor climbing
- Introduction to placing protection
- Seconding climbs and removing gear
- Lots of varied climbing – getting used to the rock, using trad gear and new ropework techniques
On day 2 we focus on developing your skills at placing natural rock protection, such as nuts and cams etc and using them to build anchors, rig top ropes and start leading once you are ready. As always, we mix skills sessions with plenty of climbing:
- Placing natural rock protection
- Constructing belay anchors
- Setting up top rope/bottom rope systems
- Grades – how to read between the lines and choose appropriate climbs
- Trad lead coaching (eg simulated leading, leading on pre placed gear, leading easier climbs – as appropriate to your preferred pace of learning).
Day 3 focusses on further developing you leading skills and introducing the added challenges of stance management and changeovers on multipitch climbs:
- How to read a climb, plan your resting points, plan your gear placements, how to pace yourself
- Placing natural protection whilst leading
- Mental and physical leading strategies
- Multipitch leading – how to organise your belay stance and swap leads efficiently
On day 4 we continue building experience on multipitch climbs and look at dealing with common problems, as well as how to safely retreat from a multi pitch climb.
- Rope management and belays on multipitch climbs
- Consolidation of lead climbing skills
- Introduction to self rescue – ascending ropes and multipitch abseil retreats/descents
This is a tailored day to either step up a level on a bigger mountain route, or look at some more advanced skills. It could include:
- a big multi pitch mountain rock route to finish the week on a high
or if you want to cover further skills, we can look at some of the following:
- Climbing and retreating using double ropes
- Retrieving jammed abseil ropes
- Further techniques for ascending ropes
- Introduction to alpine rope work – taking coils and moving together
- Crag rescue skills inc. escaping the system
PM Q+A session, course debrief and advice for the future.
Location and Travel
Your initial meeting point is the village of Llanberis in the heart of this historic rock climbing region, on the Northern edge of the Snowdonia National park.
You should arrange outward travel in order to meet your guide in Llanberis at 9am on the first day of guiding. We usually meet in the famous climbers cafe ‘Petes Eats’ on Llanberis high street – a great place to plan the day ahead over a cup of tea! Return travel should be arranged after 5pm on the last day of guiding.
Llanberis is just 25 mins drive from Bangor, off the main A55 which runs along the North coast of Wales – use the RAC or AA online route planners online for your best route by car. Llanberis can also be reached by train to Bangor, then a connecting bus service – use the Travel Line website to plan your journey.
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.