Monday, 13 June 2011

SPA in the Peak

Did my SPA training this weekend in the Peak. Went through the MLTE website to find a last minute provider, and went with Paul Smith from Rock and Water adventures.
He was also recommended to me by a friend for not just focussing on the technical rope and safety aspects of the course (which, although very very relavent, can get a little dry if over practiced on the crag for 2 days solid), he also looked into the coaching and group management issues for SPA. Something that I don't think enough instructors out there concern themselves with overly much.

The first day was spent at Millstone and Lawrencefield. The main emphasis of the day was setting up anchors and belays, creating top and bottom rope systems, and critiquing what each other was doing. Although I have a fairly good knowledge base as a climber and have good confidence in what I do, it was definitely an eye-opener as to what was good practice and bad practice. (note- note Best practice, because every situation is different).

The trial and error nature of the day was good, and showed us what we were doing, and most importantly, how we could make it better. Instead of thinking like climbers- where the maximum amount of time we spend in a stance is about 10- 20 mins, think like an instructor, who may well be there for an hour or more.
Its the little things about the stances that make them better or worse.
Building belays is easy to do.
Building good, comfortable and efficient belays is the challenge.

The weather for the day held fine for the most part, though there were a couple of short sharp showers, my cheapo columbia shimmer jacket held up to it fine.
The day ended at a pub with a discussion about climbing teaching texts, what makes them good/bad/indifferent, and a look through a number of books, some of which I had not seen before.

The amount of information I processed during the day was phenomenal, and as soon as getting home, I put down a load of notes on paper, had some food and collapsed into bed.

The second day was beautiful at the beginning, we were on Burbage North before 9am, recapping the day before and looking at abseils, personal, group, and rescue situations. There were a massive amount of groups there as well, giving us ample opportunity to see good and bad examples of belay stances, and set-ups. However, within about 3 hours, the storm had blown in and we were pretty much the only ones left on the crag. Nasty. It was good, if a little cold, continuing on with set ups and working out how to do things, even in rather worse conditions than we had yesterday.

My columbia coped well enough for a while, but after about 2 hours, it was definitely letting in water- not bad for a £100 jacket that isn't meant to be waterproof.
We headed over to The Foundry in Sheffield for the afternoon, looking at movement coaching and group control, as well as teaching points and general etiquette.
Overall an excellent weekend, and very very educational (as you would expect). Paul doesn't do any advertising, but consider this a word of mouth recommendation for his course.

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