SPA Assessment…

James and I after topping out on “Grooved Arete” (HVD***) on the east face of Tryfan

A friend of mine asked me to introduce him to trad climbing, before moving out to Japan to study for his masters. Naturally, a whistle-stop tour of the UK’s finest climbing was needed, from the gritstone edges of the Peak, through to the classic multipitch mountain routes of the Ogwen Valley. In 3 months he progressed from learning how to faff with a nutkey whilst seconding short routes, to swapping leads with me in the mountains, climbing as an equal. That’s why hopefully, I can be forgiven for not updating this blog very often!

During this time, I think we both had a steep learning curve. We climbed in the rain and in the dark. We abseiled off in retreat and topped out after some fantastic experiences. He quickly notched up lots of routes and shot up the grades. Although far from experienced, we’d  both be happy to call ourselves “climbers” now.

As someone that’s preparing for their SPA assessment shortly, I think this is important. The 3 big national governing body awards for the outdoor industry in the UK (Single Pitch Award, Mountain Leader and UKCC L2 in paddle sports) are based around experience. All 3 of these qualifications have a consolidation period, where the candidate is required to go away and log their experience, before assessment. This means going out and experiencing different weather, working with varied groups and problem solving for real. One of the instructors on my ML training told me to “go out and have some epics” – although I don’t completely agree with his advice, I now understand what he meant. You really can’t fast track experience!

Which brings me to this useful link:

How To Pass Your SPA Assessment

I can’t guarantee that you, or I will pass after reading the article, but it’s a great resource to use whilst preparing. Just remember, climbing experience is only part of the assessment. The group work, set-ups and rescues also need to be slick to make the grade.

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