Rock Climbing CompanyAssociation of Mountaineering Instructors

Learn to Climb Courses
in North Wales & Snowdonia

 

Llanberis Pass Hanging BelayH

 

Gogarth Main Cliff Hustler

 

Climbing above Conwy

 

 

Learn to Rock Climb in Snowdonia -

Climbing Courses for Beginners

 

Learn to climb snowdonia north wales

 

A Learn to Climb course is ideal for those with little or no climbing experience who want to learn the key skills needed to start climbing safely.

 

We can run the course at various locations throughout the lovely Snowdonia National Park as well as on the crags that line the North Wales coast.

 

This is an information packed course of climbing instruction where you will learn and practice core climbing skills so that you have a solid base of climbing techniques and experience to build on after the course has finished. The aim of the course is to get you climbing independently either at the climbing wall or outside on single pitch crags.

The climbing course will be tailored to give you both a taste of rock climbing and also the chance to learn all of the crucial climbing techniques and rope skills whilst in an exciting, yet safe environment.

We like to try and teach these skills whilst out climbing so that the information is as authentic as possible. Thus you will do plenty of climbing throughout the course - from the first day you can expect to be climbing routes whilst getting expert tuition on climbing movement techniques and learning the ropework and skills needed to stay safe when climbing.

Throughout the course we will help you appreciate and understand the wider issues involved in climbing; the grading system, climbing ethics, access, the environment, potential objective dangers and the correct use of your climbing equipment - in this way you will not only learn how to climb safely right from the start, but become a more rounded climber.

A course lasting 1-2 days will give you the chance to do a lot of rock climbing whilst learning how to use the core equipment (climbing harness, rope controllers / belay devices, ropes, carabiners, protection and sling), how to tie the crucial knots, how to set up belays (anchor points), how to keep your partners safe when belaying (controlling the rope) from both above and below and how to abseil or retreat from a route.

Time allowing we also like to look at how climbers protect the climbs with various devices (wires / nuts, cams / friends).

If you want to look at multi-pitch climbing or spend more time looking at belays and protection so that the skills become engrained and fluid then it is very likely that you will need more time. In general a 3 - 4 day course will let you progress from not having climbed before to being a safe and competent partner for multi pitch routes and being capable of setting up solid belays. Plus we should be able to see some great crags and do some fantastic and atmospheric climbs

We try to build our courses around your needs and experience so every aspect of our courses is totally customisable - the dates, venues and duration - everything. Simply call or email and we'll try to put together a climbing course that works for you.

There is an overview of our courses and answers to common questions on the General Information page.

We also try to use this website to give advice on climbing equipment and there is also a Climbing Equipment Advice + Tips page.

A more complete outline of the course is in the tabs below together with the prices for privately arranged courses. A lot of our courses are arranged privately, but we also run open Learn to Rock Climb courses on set dates and the details on these courses are set out on the Booking Calendar page.

 

 

Learn to Rock Climb Course - Outline

 

Learn to rock climb courses - indoor climbingThe Learn to Climb course content and duration can vary enormously and there are many possible agendas, but one of the most popular is to start with a session to run through the core skills at a local crag.

Snowdonia is a beautiful area so ideally we try to use an outdoor crag because this gives a real taste of climbing. We often use Clogwyn Cyrau near Betws-y-Coed, Lion Rock on the outskirts of Llanberis or Tryfan Bach in the Ogwen Valley - these are all great crags with brilliant views into the mountains.

There are also some great crags for learning how to climb on near Holyhead on Anglesey, Conwy and at the Tremadog cliffs near Porthmadog. These crags are very useful because they often have dry weather when it is looking dodgy in the mountains.

Once at the climbing venue we will warm-up and run through the techniques that climbers use to move up the rock - good footwork and body control combined with forward thinking are just as important as physical strength. We'll then set up the ropes systems and look at the core climbing equipment - harness, boots, ropes and belay devices - whilst climbing some routes with a top rope.

We can instruct you on all the key issues involved in climbing safely: rope work, knots, belays, placing protection and descending.

and the topics often include:

  • Movement and technique on the rock - how climbers use the holds to move efficiently up the rock. We will look at body position, footwork and specific climbing moves such as rockover's, laybacking and jamming.
  • Rock Climbing Equipment - selection and use of harnesses, belay plates, knots and ropes. We can provide advice on building your rack and have good relations with local shops if you need any equipment.
  • Crag Awareness - safe places to rack up, reading the routes and objective dangers.
  • Rope Work and Belaying Techniques - how two climbers use the rope and work as a team to ensure each others safety.
  • Top-roping, seconding and leading
  • Advanced Equipment- selection and use of nuts, wires, cams and slings.
  • Protecting a climb - how the equipment works together to form a safety system
  • Belays - constructing safe belay stances, equalising anchors and thinking ahead.
  • Abseiling and the choice of safe descents from climbs
  • Route descriptions, guidebooks, climbing terminology and grading systems
  • Climbing in North Wales - access to crags, the environment and the history of climbing in Snowdonia.

We teach these topics whilst climbing and you can be sure that we will try to cram as much climbing into the course as possible because this is not only more realistic, but it makes the whole course more fun and memorable.

On a climbing course that lasts one day you will cover all of the essential climbing skills and by the end of the session should be able to use the main items of climbing equipment safely, second climbs competently, abseil and belay safely. A two day course will let us reinforce these skills and also look at using climbing equipment to build belays and protect climbs.

On a two day course we will often try to go to a larger, mountain crag with multi-pitch climbing on the second day - this adds real exposure to the experience plus the views and situations are often brilliant. We can concentrate building your skills and confidence whilst enjoying the climbing and reaching a summit.

If you want to consolidate your skills so that building belays, belaying and climbing becomes totally safe and fluid plus look at using double rope systems and simulate placing climbing protection then it is most likely that you will need a longer period of instruction - a 3 or 4 day course will give us enough time to work together so that you become totally fluid in setting up your own belays, constructing top rope systems and belaying safely in a lot of different situations. The naturally talented and confident can look at multi-pitch climbing in more detail and can progress to the simulated leading of their own climbs in a controlled, safe and confident manner by the end of the course

Rock Climbing Essentials - Background Information

lf you want an theoretical understanding of climbing before starting the course then we can recommend the following books:

Rock Climbing BookLibby Peter's Rock Climbing - Essential Skills and Techniques is currently the best instructional book on rock climbing. It does a great job of covering both basic and advanced techniques in a clear an interesting way.

The old heavyweight is Mountaincraft and Leadership, it covers more ground than Libby's book but is not as easy to read. The other good, all round book on both climbing and general Mountain Skills is The Mountain Skills Handbook (ISBN 0715310917) by Pete Hill and Stuart Johnston - good, concise information.

Nigel Shepherds Complete Guide to Rope Techniques is a great book for looking at ropework skills in depth.

If you prefer watching rather than reading then the following is probably the best of the climbing instruction DVD's:Get Out On Rock by Libby Peter and Neil Gresham (ISBN 13: 9781904207498)

Neil has also done a couple of Masterclass DVD's, but these are more aimed at those with some experience of climbing who want to improve their technique.

The British Mountaineering Council is the representative body for climbers in the UK and they provide a lot of information for people learning to climb including some useful downloads that were originally published in Summit magazine:Climbing Outside and Climbing Indoors

 

 

 

Choosing and Building a Rack of Climbing Equipment.

 

DMM Offset in a perfect flareLearning to climb outside means gaining many new skills; one of these is building an understanding of the extra climbing equipment that is needed when climbing outdoors. We are often asked what equipment is required in different situations, how climbing equipment should be chosen and how to build a climbing rack.
A climbing rack is the collection of hardware, slings and rope control devices that a climber carries to protect a route, set up belays and control the rope.

Inevitably when you start out climbing then your rack will have gaps in it and this will limit some of the routes that you can attempt, but building a rack around the kit that your climbing partners have and then sharing racks is good way around this problem.

In general the rack you will need will depend on the length of the route you are attempting, its difficulty, the rock that the route is made from and the specific features in the rock formation.

The longer the route then the bigger rack of equipment that you will need to protect it; harder climbs often involve less featured, blanker sections that need more small, specialist gear to protect them and different rock types favour differing types of protection.

The first trick is to build up a rack that consists of the right amount of the right equipment so that you can protect a wide spectrum of climbs and the second is knowing what to carry in different situations – carrying enough kit to safely protect the climb and yet not carrying superfluous gear that will just weigh you down. Common sense, checking out the route from the ground and versatile gear together with a big dollop of experience all play their part here.
A summer rock climbing rack comprises the following items:

  • Carabiners and Quickdraws
  • Passive Protection
  • Active Protection – Camming devices
  • Slings
  • Rope Controllers
  • Emergency Equipment

These are our suggestions for different situations:

Carabiners and Quickdraws

Carabiners and their associated quickdraws will make up a significant proportion of the weight of your rack so try to go as light as possible, but never compromise on safety or function. On long trad routes you will be carrying 40 to 50 carabiners and choosing lightweight carabiners can save you over a kilo.

Wiregate quickdraws with the carabiners slung on skinny (8-12mm) dyneema are pretty much mandatory for traditional climbing and winter climbing, but for sports routes burly keylock solid gate quickdraws on wide (16-20mm) nylon tape are still best.

The reasons for this are exemplified by a couple of the best carabiners on the market at the moment the DMM Phantom and the DMM Shadow. The Phantom is a superlight wiregate and the Shadow is a tough, solid gate:

  • Wiregates can be built to be lighter than solid gates. Thus the Phantom comes in at 26g and the Shadow 42g….and the Shadow is really light for its class.
  • Resistance to upward progress comes from both the weight of your rack and the drag of your rope(s). Lightweight wiregates slung on long skinny dyneema draws both weigh less and create less drag.
  • Wiregates also tend to have less gate flutter and freeze shut less easily than solid gates. Bear in mind that superlight biners such as the Phantom may not be ideal for winter climbing because with their light weigh comes a smaller size and in winter handling small biners with gloves can be a pain.
  • Lightweight wiregate carabiners can be used for sport climbing, but the protection bolts on sports routes are made from steel and chew up aluminium carabiners too easily – badly made, badly positioned and badly placed bolts can cause biners to become scored, levered and generally abused. Durability, good handling and keylock noses are the prime characteristics to look for here – weight is still important i.e., the Shadow weighs 42g compared to the previous class leader the Petzl Spirit (49g) especially on on-sight attempts. The quickdraws are often wider nylon because this is easier to grab when dogging/working routes and drag is less of an issue because most sports routes are straight lines.

Badly designed Carabiners

In terms of strength the key strength is the gate open strength – don’t go for anything less than 8kN. Also ignore any carabiner with a large notch in the nose that can catch / hang up on wires or tapes. When loaded in this position most carabiners will break at 3-4kN and most falls will generate this amount of force.

Don’t bother with accessory biners for racking nut keys or chalk bags – get something useful that could get you out of trouble one day – put the nut key on a full strength, light wire gate carabiner and put your chalk bag on a length of 5/6mm cord that can double as a prusik loop.

Screwgates are relatively heavy - often at least as twice as much as a lightweight wire gate – so choose carefully. You will need a HMS/Oval for your belay device, a nice HMS (or two) with plenty of internal space to act as central connectors and some smaller, offset D screwgates to link critical pieces of the safety system together.

It used to be suggested that you use doubled-up, back to back snap gates instead of screwgates because this is lighter, but that is no longer the case i.e. DMM Phantom SG at 41g.

Passive Protection - Wires and Nuts.

Nuts are your core protection so don’t skimp – go for a versatile rack of nuts that offer you the maximum amount of placement options. The best mainstream nuts are:

  • DMM Wallnuts
  • (Anodised) Wild Country Rocks (not the Classic Rocks)
  • Metolius Superlight Curve Nuts
  • DMM/HB Alloy Offsets

These all have complex shapes that allow a multitude of placements – not only do these allow main axis and sideways placements, but they fit flares better, cam into marginal placements and keyhole into pockets.

Basic square shapes such as used on the Zero G, Black Diamond, Camp and Kong nuts are just not as good. Always also check the weight of the nuts you are looking at because there can be a significant difference between solid wires and those that have cut away sections i.e. WC Anodised Rocks v WC Classic Rocks. Also check that the larger sizes can be placed overhead easily i.e. the wire is stiff enough to support the weight of the head with the wire bending and flopping around.

Mix brands and hence shapes – so if you have a core set of Wallnuts then next time choose Rocks or Curve nuts – this gives you different shapes and hence more options.

IGood hexcentric placementt is easy these days to grab a cam and plug it in, but wires tend to be more reliable than cams because once placed there is less risk of them walking or rotating out of position. Thus wires are great for main runners and belays plus competency in placing nuts allows you to save your cams for higher up the route - a critical skill on very long pitches.
Alongside the mainstream wires there are also micro wires and large nuts.

Large nuts usually have a hexcentric shape and are best slung on dyneema. The better models - WC Rockcentrics and DMM Torques – have complex offset shapes that allow them to cam into a crack and offer the climber large protection at a fraction of the weight and cost of cams. In many situations these units can even be stronger and more dependable than cams.

It is commonplace to dismiss ‘hexes’ as being just for beginners, but knowing how to place the hexes well is a really useful skill that allows you to maximise your options and perhaps save your cams for when you really need them.

Don’t go for hexes on wire as they are far less versatile despite being easier to place overhead.

Micro wires come in many different forms and, once again, variety is the key. You won’t need these when starting out, but any extreme leader worth the name has a decent selection of micro nuts. Black Diamond Swedges and DMM IMPs are the best mainstream micro wires.

Camming Devices – Active Protection

Cams have changed climbing and the routes that can be climbed because in certain placements nothing else will fit – however they are expensive and heavy – so choose your first cams carefully.  The usefulness of cams also depends a lot on the type of route and rock being climbed; parallel Grit cracks and Gogarth flares can often only be protected by cams, but mountain routes are often better protected by carrying more wires and dumping some cams.

The key sizes when forming a rack are 20-30mm, 30-45mm, 45-70mm – this equates to a DMM/Wild Country 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 or BD Camalot 0.5, 1 and 2.
Once you have these cams you can fill in the half sizes WC/DMM 1.5 and 2.5.
The choice then is to go smaller or larger and that will largely depend on where and what you climb. However, don’t be afraid to mix brands.

If you go larger then the BD 3 is a good choice, if smaller then go for a specific micro cam – until recently I would have recommended CCH Aliens, but ongoing QA problems at CCH and the introduction of the great Metolius Mastercams means that the Mastercams are the new class leader.  These micro cams are more flexible and work well in shallow cracks/pockets.

Slings

Climbers have generally migrated to dyneema slings for personal use and the best lengths are 60cm (4ft) and 120cm (8ft). A 240cm (16ft) sling can be useful for constructing belays.

Really skinny (8-10mm) 60cm dyneema slings can also be used as extendable quickdraws.

Keep each different length of sling a different colour to make it easier to identify them and most of all get a good system that avoids tangles.

Belay Device and Belay Carabiner

Your belay device should be safe to use with the ropes/rope diameters that you use – that is it should feed rope easily and yet be able to catch a fall easily and safely.

The belay device should be matched up with a suitable locking carabiner – belay carabiners are most commonly HMS shaped, but the new DMM Ultra O SG also makes an awesome belay carabiner that just does not cross load.

As always it's worth getting the most out of your belay device, meaning it should either be as light as possible i.e. the DMM Bugette (26g) or are as functional as possible i.e. the Petzl Reverso 3 (81g) which although more than three times the weight of the Bugette, allows the belayer far more options and can also be used for ascending the rope.

Nut Key

One per team – put it on a proper carabiner and a piece of cord.
Attaching the nut key directly to the harness with its integral wire gate or a single carabiner is a good way of embedding it in your thigh.

Prusik Loops

Although on many one-pitch climbs prusics aren't needed, it's worth just getting into the habit of always carrying them. Most climbers will carry two loops clipped to a karabiner at the rear of their harness - either two 1.3 – 1.5m lengths of 5mm cord, or one 1.5m and one 2.5m lengths.

5mm cord works well on most ropes, but some people prefer 6mm - again ensure that you know which knot to use and how many turns to apply to the ropes you are using.

 

 

We ran out of space on the main testimonials page and didn't want to lose these messages of thanks - so we moved some of the older testimonials here. The main testimonials page is on the home page below the main text.

The following was received after a Learn to Climb course held in May 2009:

Hi Silvia, Would just like to say thanks again for running such a most enjoyable course this weekend. Had so much fun and your teaching and encouragement along with your experience will go a long way in improving my confidence all round.

David

The following testimonials were received from members of recent Learn to Climb and Learn to Lead Climb courses:

Hi Silvi, I bought all my gear yesterday so i'm all set to take on the crags of the world, thanks to you! UK this year, Spain next year :-)Me and Jamie are meeting tomorrow night and climbing at Black Rocks in the Peak District on Wednesday. So excited!

Hope you had a good Easter, albeit working. :-(  and we'll see you soon for some more EXTENDABLE! shouts. (i'll be using them a lot on Tuesday i promise!).all the best,

Richard - April 2009 

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Dear Silvia,

Thank you for a wonderful 2 days - I really enjoyed myself and also definitely benefited from what I learnt. ………Again many thanks for a great 2 days and enjoy your own climbing!
  
Regards Jamie – April 2009

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"Hi Silvia,

I hope you are well. Are you back in Spain now?

I just wanted to say hello and also a big thank you for the weekend climbing in Wales. Liam and I both learnt so much and we had a really great time. We are also going to try and come over to Spain next year for some climbing with you.

We haven't been to the Castle or Craggy Island yet as we have both been in Japan but we plan to go in the next few weeks. We can't wait to do some lead climbing on some of the walls we have only been looking at till now! ..."

Helen -  October 2008

 

 

 

Prices: A list of all prices for privately arranged courses are found below - all prices include VAT. Simply contact us with details of the type of course that you want, your climbing experience and your preferred timescale and we will get straight back to you with an itinerary.

Type of Course
Length of Course
Instructor - Climber Ratio
Cost per group
Cost per person
Learn to Climb in Snowdonia
1 Day Learn to Climb Course
1:1
£170
£170
1:2
£180
£90
1:3
£210
£70
2 Day Learn to Climb Course
1:1
£330
£330
1:2
£350
£175
1:3
£390
£130
3 Day Learn to Climb Course
1:1
£490
£490
1:2
£520
£260
1:3
£570
£190
4 Day Learn to Climb Course
1:1
£640
£640
1:2
£660
£330
1:3
£750
£250

 

Booking Form

Booking Details + Conditions

The Rock Climbing Company provides: All the technical equipment needed for a Learn to Rock Climb Course. This includes climbing ropes, climbing hardware and a helmet and harness for each client.

We have lots of equipment that you can use so that you can decide for yourself what kit you like - thus you can try different carabiners, quickdraws, belay devices, cams and nuts.

Please feel free to bring along any personal equipment that you want yo use i.e. your own helmet and harness, but we will need to quickly check that it is all in good condition.

What you need to provide: The weather in the mountains can be extremely fickle, even in summer, and so you should bring suitable synthetic, warm clothing and a full set of waterproofs (top and trousers). Don't forget your hat and gloves either.

Ideally you will need your own rock shoes as well, although we can arrange hire rock shoes if required. You will also need a rucksack (30 - 40 litre capacity) and food and drink for the day.

There is a more complete equipment list on the Equipment for Snowdonia Courses pages.

What is not included: Prices do not include, transport, accommodation, meals or insurance. The prices above do not include climbing wall entry fees if we go to a climbing wall.

There is information on where to stay on the Accommodation - North Wales page.

Ratios and course sizes: Learning to Climb can be taught at a ratio of between 1 to 4 clients per instructor.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information

 

 

 

 

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